Softball falls hard in division openers

In its first North Division match-up of the season, Yale (13-21, 2-10 Ivy) was swept in two doubleheaders against Harvard (18-15, 9-3) this weekend. The Bulldogs lost 7-0 and 4-1 on Saturday, and the Crimson picked up two more wins yesterday against the Elis: 6-3 and 7-3.

Both teams were able to get players on base, but while the Bulldogs had trouble bringing players home, the Crimson put together strings of hits and clutch homers.

“They’re good hitters — they made adjustments, which is how they got their hits and runs,” pitcher Deanna DiBernardi ’09 explained. “If we got them the first time up, they came back the second time looking for that pitch — it was hard to get them out the same way twice.”

In Saturday’s first game, the score was tied 0-0 until Harvard’s Jennifer Francis homered and batted in two runs in the fourth inning. Yale showed signs of an immediate comeback in the bottom of the inning when they successfully loaded the bases, but struck out before any players could score a run.

Then the Crimson pulled away in the last two innings. With a series of solid hitting, Harvard scored three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

“Harvard was very good at getting clutch hits at the right moments,” Lauren Huddleston ’10 said. “When they got hitters on base, they scored runs, but we would leave our runners on base.”

The second game on Saturday told a similar story. Harvard scored two runs in the fourth, including a homer, but Yale came back in the fifth with a big triple from second baseman Katie Yanagisawa ’11 that helped outfielder Courtney Blachford ’08 score the Elis’ run.

Yale defense and pitching held throughout the game up until the end. The Bulldogs stopped the Crimson from scoring when the visitors had bases loaded in the sixth inning. But when Francis came through with a clutch homer again, the Crimson scored two more runs, taking the close score of 2-1 to a winning one of 4-1.

The Bulldog’s hitting improved on Sunday, but it was still not enough to beat the Crimson. The Bulldogs’ improved bunting strategy allowed them to get players in scoring position and score some runs. Yale matched its division rival’s eight hits, but did not have the advantage of the eight walks that Harvard had.

“We were able to get those bunts down well today,” Huddleston explained, “We improved on our hitting and on getting runners in, and we played better games than before.”

The Crimson was leading 4-0 going into the fifth inning, but the Elis rallied in the bottom of the fifth with three runs that brought them closer at 4-3. The Bulldogs came through with a string of successful hits and took advantage of Harvard’s fielding errors. Huddleston, Ashley Sloan ’10 and Blachford all scored runs with the help of hits from teammates like Yanagisawa, who had two RBI.

But like the day before, Harvard sealed its win by pulling away in the last inning. The Crimson scored two more runs that ended the game 6-3, making it impossible for the Elis to come up with enough runs to tie the score.

In the second game, the Crimson started out with two runs in the top of the first, but the Bulldogs quickly challenged the visitors with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first. After several players walked onto base and scored with the help of smart Bulldog offense, Nicole Wolfe ’11 hit a big double that allowed Tracy Timm ’10 to score Yale’s third run of the inning.

“My biggest priority was just getting Tracy [Timm] to score,” Wolfe explained. “I knew I need to hit it down hard and through a gap because our the team really needed the run.”

The Elis held the early lead for another inning in the game, but Harvard scored another homer that earned the Crimson two runs in the third, making the score 4-3 in the visitors’ favor. The Crimson then pulled away in the following inning with three more runs. Without any more runs from either side, the game ended 7-3.

“No one wants to drop four games to Harvard, but we’ve learned what we need to overcome,” Wolfe said. “We’ve seen improvement in our hitting and we’re working better together offensively, so we definitely have that potential.”

After hosting a doubleheader against Providence on Wednesday, the Bulldogs will hit the road and face Dartmouth in two doubleheaders this weekend.

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