Even the most talented softball teams would find it hard to win games when their pitchers give up five earned runs, their fielders make five errors and several starters are benched with food poisoning. So the fact that the struggling Yale softball team could win under those conditions might be a sign of the long-awaited turnaround in the Bulldogs’ season.
The Elis (13-23, 2-6 Ivy) split their doubleheader with Hartford (9-13) yesterday, their eighth split twin bill in 12 tries. The Bulldogs hung on to win the early game, 6-5, despite a late charge from the Hawks. But game two saw the teams’ roles reversed, with the Elis mounting an 11th-hour rally that ended with an Aracelis Torres ’08 strikeout with the tying run on third. The Bulldogs out-hit Hartford in both games, eight to seven in the early game and seven to five in the late game.
“It was a pretty good day,” captain Chelsea Kanyer ’06 said. “The pitchers did well, we played pretty relaxed, and the bats started to come alive.”
In the early game, the usually slow-starting offense did just the opposite with a two-run first inning. After Christina Guerland ’07 and Kanyer singled, and Torres walked to load the bases, Kate Meserve ’07 hit a single to right field to plate Guerland. In the next at-bat, Niki Haab ’07 drew a bases-loaded walk to bring Kanyer home.
The Bulldogs added two more runs each in the fourth and fifth innings. All but one Eli starter notched a hit, with Guerland and center fielder Libby Peters ’05 leading the way with a pair of base knocks each.
This put Jessica Meyer ’07 in an unusual position for a Yale hurler — getting to pitch with run support. The offensive outburst would prove crucial, since the sophomore — who had not started since April 13 — had a shaky outing, allowing five earned runs on seven hits, including a three-run home run in the sixth inning.
Peggy Hunt ’06 came on in relief after Meyer allowed a single to start the seventh and retired all three batters she faced to end the game. Meyer picked up her second win of the year while Hunt was credited with her first save.
The Bulldogs said that the offensive production they showed yesterday is something they are always capable of.
“I think that our team always has it in us to fight,” center fielder Courtney Blachford ’08 said. “I felt extremely good to fight and generate runs to win today.”
The second game saw nearly as much offense, and the Bulldogs managed to start fast again with a three-hit first inning, but strong Hartford defense — especially from shortstop Liz Borawski — stifled several Eli charges.
The Bulldogs would make their biggest push in the bottom of the seventh inning, when left fielder Emily Lederer ’06, third baseman Meredith Parks ’07 and catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 all reached safely to start the inning, bringing the heart of the Eli order to the plate with no outs recorded.
Guerland hit a sac fly to left to bring Lederer home and narrow the margin to one. Kanyer then grounded out to second on the next play, advancing Parks, the tying run, to third before Torres’ strikeout closed the book.
Despite the loss, Hunt pitched extremely well, rebounding from a poor showing the previous weekend against Cornell and Columbia. The junior ace scattered five hits and struck out nine in seven innings of work, allowing only one earned run.
“It was great for her confidence level, and for the team’s confidence in her to see she was back in the game,” Parks said. “At one point she had six strikeouts in a row — that’s good for both her and the team.”
While the offense came alive yesterday, they also produced more than their fair share of mental mistakes. The Elis made three errors in the late game, and despite winning the early game, they made five errors in that contest.
The Elis said the errors can be attributed to the fact that several normal starters — including pitcher Ashley Linnenbank ’06, Torres and usual clean-up hitter Parks — were either out of today’s line up or saw scarce playing time, due to what is suspected to be food poisoning. Five of the eight errors committed were by Elis not playing in their normal position.
A more pressing issue is the alarming number of runners left on base — 10 in the first game and eight in the second game, double the Hawks’ numbers both times. Kanyer said this is the biggest issue that must be addressed before this weekend’s contests against Princeton and Penn.
“We left a lot of runners on base,” she said. “We need to get better at executing with runners in scoring position. That’s the biggest thing to take from today — we have to hit the ball in important positions.”
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