The softball team went into the weekend hoping to break a three-game losing streak and a win their first home game. The Bulldogs both broke the streak and emerged with a six-game winning streak of their own.
Yale (13–15, 5–3 Ivy) swept all three of its doubleheaders, defeating Penn (10–16–1, 2–6), Columbia (9–22, 1–7) and Rhode Island (3–32). The two Ivy League sweeps vaulted the Elis up to a second-place tie with Brown in the North Division.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”4375″ ]
“We’re back in the swing of coming out and winning games consistently, and we’re putting our hits together and actually playing softball,” captain and catcher McKynlee Westman ’11 said. “We get down, we fight back. I feel like we’re on a really good streak right now.”
Yale batted .357 as a team this weekend and outscored their opponents by a 47–28 margin.
The busy weekend began on Friday when the Bulldogs hosted Penn. Just two days after losing a doubleheader to Providence on two walk-off hits, the Elis rebounded with a pair of wins — one of which came on a walk-off hit.
In the opener, center fielder Tori Balta’s ’14 single in the bottom of the ninth to drive in third baseman Christy Nelson ’13 gave the Elis a 2–1 victory over the Quakers.
Chelsey Dunham ’14 pitched a complete game for Yale and allowed just one run on three hits with three strikeouts.
The Quakers took an early 1–0 lead in the second inning after Kayla Dahlerbruch walked and scored on an RBI double from Justine Payne.
The Bulldogs knotted the contest in the third on an RBI single from second baseman Katie Yanagisawa ’11.
The game remained deadlocked until the Elis broke through in the bottom of the ninth. Nelson opened the inning with a double and advanced to third on sacrifice bunt from Westman. Balta then singled to drive in Nelson and give Yale the walk-off win.
“It was really awesome,” Balta said. “It’s exactly what the team needed.”
The Bulldogs also defeated the Quakers in the nightcap, 10–6.
Though Penn struck first with two runs in the first, the Bulldogs took the lead by scoring three times in the second. Yale got its first run after Balta singled to drive in Nelson from second. Designated player Kelsey Warkentine ’12 and right fielder Jennifer Ong ’13 then hit RBI doubles to put the Elis ahead, 3–2.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 7–2 with four runs in the third.
Still, the Quakers got back in the game in the fourth. Penn scored twice on a bases-loaded double to cut the deficit to 7–4 and then pulled within two runs on a sacrifice fly.
But the Elis got two runs back in the fourth on RBI singles by Johnson and Balta and added an insurance run in the fifth.
Penn scored in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit, allowing the Elis to complete the sweep of their Ancient Eight rival.
“It’s a big deal, especially with Ivies and being at home,” Dunham said. “It was nice to take these two wins. The momentum is totally ours now.”
The Bulldogs took that momentum into their doubleheader against Columbia on Saturday and came out with two more wins. Yale defeated the Lions 7–0 in the opener and 12–7 in the nightcap.
Dunham was dominant in the first game, tossing seven shutout innings and allowing just three hits while striking out seven.
The Elis were strong on the offensive end as well. Yale first got on the board in the second after Nelson went deep to left field to give the home team a 1–0 lead.
The Bulldogs got two more runs in the fourth on an RBI single from Westman and an RBI double from Warkentine. Warkentine knocked in two more runs in the sixth with another RBI double, and first baseman Mariclaire Rebman ’11 singled to drive in a pair of runs and secure the Elis’ win.
The Bulldogs’ bats also carried them through the second game. Though the Lions opened up an early 4–0 lead through the first two innings, the Elis responded with three runs in the bottom of the second. Nelson and Westman started the rally with back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Balta then reached on a throwing error that scored Nelson and moved Westman to third. A squeeze play cut the deficit to 3–2 after Chelsey Locarno ’12 laid down a bunt single to bring in Westman.
“Our coach called the squeeze play,” Westman said. “All of my teammates were kind of surprised because I’m not the speediest person on our team, but [Locarno] had a perfect bunt [and] held it up in the air a little bit, so I had time to get there.”
The Elis pulled within one on a Columbia error that allowed Balta to reach home.
They then erupted for four runs in the third to take the lead. After Nelson doubled to start the frame, Westman drove her in with an RBI single to tie the game at 4¬–4. The Elis then loaded the bases for Ong, who singled to knock in two runs and give Yale the lead. Yale took a 7–4 edge on Yanagisawa’s RBI single.
Still, the Lions battled back and scored three runs in the fifth to tie the contest. Columbia threatened to retake the lead when it got the bases loaded with no outs, but Dunham came into the game and retired three straight batters to get out of the jam and keep the game tied.
But the game didn’t stay tied for long. In the bottom of the fifth, Warkentine launched a ball to center field that hit the top of the fence and bounced over for a two-run homer to give the Bulldogs a 9–7 lead.
“I knew she’d been pitching me to the inside all day, so I just stepped up there and I was ready for it,” Warkentine said. “I had hit a couple off the fence and I was just ready for one of them to tip over.”
The Elis got two more runs before the end of the inning on RBI singles off the bats of Rebman and Nelson. Yale added an insurance run in the sixth, and Dunham pitched two more scoreless innings to complete the sweep of the Lions.
Yale completed its third sweep on Sunday against Rhode Island with a pair of walk-off wins, defeating the Rams 4–3 in the opener and 12–11 in the nightcap.
The Bulldogs won the first game in the bottom of the eighth after a grounder by Ong allowed Balta to beat the throw home and score the game-winning run.
Dunham was once against strong for the Elis in the circle, going the full eight innings and allowing just three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and five walks.
Trailing 3–0 going into the fifth, the Elis got on the board after Yanagisawa scored on a sacrifice fly from Nelson. Yale tied it at 3–3 in the next frame when Ong singled to drive in two runs.
The game stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth when Balta walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Warkentine. A Rhode Island error then allowed left fielder Virgina Waldrop ’12 to reach and moved Balta to third. Balta then scored on a grounder by Ong that let her beat the throw home and give the Bulldogs the victory.
In the nightcap, the Bulldogs rallied from an 8–0 deficit to come back and win in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI double from Nelson.
After the Rams opened up an eight run lead after erupting for seven runs in the second inning, Yale battled back and scored three runs in the second, third and fourth innings to seize a 9–8 edge.
That lead was short-lived, however, as Rhode Island added three runs in the fifth to go up 11–9.
A triple from Yanagisawa followed by a single from Rebman cut the Rams’ lead to one run in the fifth, and the Bulldogs tied it at 11–11 in the sixth when shortstop Meg Johnson ’12 scored on a throwing error.
Yale completed the comeback in the bottom of the seventh after Rebman doubled to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI double from Nelson.
The Elis are off until Wednesday when they host a doubleheader against Sacred Heart. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at Dewitt Family Field.