The Yale softball team dealt the Bears some bad news this weekend as it held on to third place in the North Division to close out the year.
The Elis (21-21, 6-14 Ivy) took three of four from Brown (9-32, 2-18) in a home-and-home series in the final games of the 2007 season. The Bulldogs grabbed two from the Bears, 9-1 and 3-2, on Saturday in Rhode Island before a split, with a 4-0 loss and an 8-0 victory, on Senior Day in New Haven.
The series showed the Elis at their best and worst, with their best coming in the first and final games of the weekend. Though Yale hits dropped all over the field in three of the games — the squad racked up 33 through the four-game set — the team did succumb to its season-long weakness of poor clutch hitting in the third matchup.
With their batting finally on track, the Elis blew Brown pitcher Kristen Schindler away in her pair of bookend outings. Schindler threw just 1.2 innings in the opening game of the series, conceding four earned runs, then coughed up eight more runs in the final contest the following day.
Right fielder Kyli Hanson ’09 ripped her first career grand slam in the top of the seventh to secure Yale’s 9-1 victory in the series opener.
“I was super excited,” Hanson said. “It was a tight inning and getting four more RBI gave our pitchers a lot more room going into the last inning.”
Pitchers Rebecca Wojciak ’09 and Holly Gutterud ’10 combined to shut down the Bears, with the former concluding her successful sophomore season with a 1.86 ERA.
K.R. Ling ’10 pitched a gem in the second game of the day to top the Bears, 3-2. Though the Elis fell behind early, they knocked in three late runs to beat the home team in the nightcap.
But a loss in the first game on Sunday spoiled the Elis’ perfect weekend and gave Brown just its second Ivy League victory of the year. A three-run fifth off Gutterud, pitching for the second straight day, proved too much for the Elis to recover from, and they fell, 4-0.
Hanson said the loss was exemplary of the Bulldogs’ entire season because the squad got six runners on base but was unable to knock a single player home.
“Unfortunately, that’s kind of how we’ve been all season,” she said. “But we just put it behind us. You can’t change what happens in the season but we wanted to give the seniors a win in their last game.”
The Elis rounded out the 2007 season with perhaps their most fundamentally sound outing of the year. The team committed no errors, the pitching was stellar and they drove in plenty of runs.
Pitcher Kayla Kuretich ’10 threw her most dominant game of the year, striking out three and conceding no runs in a six-inning game that ended with the mercy rule. The Bulldogs had a run in every inning but the third, finally reaching the eight required for a “mercy rule” win when first baseman Megan Enyeart ’09 drove in a run off a walk-off single in the sixth.
Hanson notched another three RBI to bring her weekend total to eight, making her total of 24 the second highest of the Bulldogs in 2007.
But the Elis’ third-place divisional and seventh overall finish in the conference made the recent wins bittersweet at best.
“I think we had high hopes for the season and it didn’t fall that way,” Guerland said. “But it’s my senior year and I’m really glad we were able to end on a win. That’s really important.”
Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda said the team will miss the contributions of the graduating class of Guerland, third baseman Meredith Parks ’07 and designated hitter Jessica Meyer ’07.
“This was a very good class,” she said. “[Parks and Guerland] played just about every game since they have been here. Those are some big shoes to be filled.”
Despite the lackluster Ancient Eight results, the Bulldogs racked up a resounding 20 overall wins or more for the ninth time in 11 years, and both hitters and pitchers contributed to this achievement — Yale checked in a steady 2.64 team ERA and a combined .280 batting average on the season.