Wasted scoring opportunities gave two slumping softball teams early conference wins in New Haven last weekend.
In the wake of a promising start to the season, Yale (13-7, 0-4 Ivy) lost four games in the first weekend of Ivy League competition to a skilled Cornell squad (21-8, 3-1) and the recently struggling Princeton Tigers (13-18, 4-0). Mistakes in the first game each day cost the Elis close games and preceded blowouts in the second half of each set.
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Taking the field against the Big Red on Saturday, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead only eventually to fall, 2-1. Cornell’s go-ahead run came off a double steal in which a Big Red baserunner got catcher Katie Edwards ’09 to throw to second late and the runner on third stole home on the throw back to Edwards, leaving all runners safe.
This pitcher’s duel heartbreaker opened up an entire weekend of missed opportunities for the Elis, who left a total of 29 runners on the basepaths.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score and we didn’t take advantage of them,” Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda said. “We can’t wait and expect someone to hit a home run. We have a couple of key people who aren’t hitting right now and we left a lot of players on base.”
Despite a late inning homer by shortstop Aracelis Torres ’08, the Bulldogs threw away more chances to score in the second contest against the Big Red by stranding seven players. Cornell crushed the Elis, 13-3, with two home runs and one long, first-inning grand slam that not only cleared the fence in left-center but hit the stands of the lacrosse stadium some 40 yards away.
After losing two to the Big Red, Yale came out with renewed energy Sunday to face the Tigers, who had been on a nine-game losing streak before opening conference play with four wins over Brown and the Elis.
Saturday’s first game starter, Bulldog ace Rebecca Wojciak ’09, was inside the circle yesterday to throw nine of her combined 14 innings. She only allowed one run off Princeton’s capable small ball hitters — the squad favored the bunt in most situations — and exhibited remarkable control as she was able to hit both the inside and outside corners of the plate for strikes. But an extra-inning rally gave the Tigers the three runs they would need to cement their first win of the day.
“When she’s on, she’s on,” Reinalda said about her workhorse, who now registers 42 IP. “She only gave up one run and we tied it up, but they took advantage of a couple of mistakes.”
Despite pitching 14 innings over two days, Wojciak said, she was not drained by the final innings of the 4-1 loss to Princeton.
“I don’t think it was fatigue,” she said. “I think [Princeton was] finally hitting pitches that they weren’t hitting earlier.”
The back-and-forth game that followed saw rookie pitcher Kayla Kuretich ’10 finish up a 12-inning weekend of her own after throwing five innings in relief in the second loss to the Big Red. She confined the Tigers’ hits to inside the fences, but two Bulldog errors and a few well-placed bloop hits won the game, 6-3, for Princeton.
But again, the Elis’ bats were anything but silenced as they racked up seven hits, a triple from first baseman Megan Enyeart ’09 and a home run from outfielder Allie Canulli ’10 — the second of her career.
Canulli said the Bulldogs never stopped working this weekend, even though losses in the first games may have contributed to the second defeats each day.
“I think we put up a fight as best as we could,” she said. “You have to treat every game like it’s the first. We’re just going to keep our heads up and keep working through.”
Though this weekend’s sweep leaves the Elis knotted with Brown at the bottom of the North Division in the Ancient Eight, the new Ivy format will work to the Bulldogs’ benefit by giving the squad 16 conference games left to play. Yale will take the field against St. John’s in a double header at home starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.