SOFTBALL | Bulldogs smash losing streak

Meg Johnson ’12 achieved her 119th career hit for the Elis.
Meg Johnson ’12 achieved her 119th career hit for the Elis. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

After 15 straight losses, the softball team turned the tide and broke its losing streak with a 3–0 shutout against Sacred Heart in the nightcap of the teams’ doubleheader Wednesday.

While the Pioneers (17–26) won the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Bulldogs (8–28, 1–11 Ivy) said their first victory this month caused a significant momentum shift — just in time for more Ivy League play this weekend.

“The team I saw on the field today was the Yale softball team I know and love,” Meg Johnson ’12 said.

Johnson earned the 155th hit of her career in the nightcap and is now tied for seventh in career hits in Yale softball history.

Sacred Heart did not just have home field advantage: Wednesday marked their first game in the newly renovated Pioneer Park in Fairfield, Conn.

In the first game, the Elis took an early 2–1 lead in the top of the second after Kelsey Warkentine ’13, Riley Hughes ’15 and Chelsea Janes ’12 each singled, driving in two runs. But Yale’s advantage ended after Sacred Heart scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth. A Pioneer grand slam in the bottom of the fifth, made possible by three walks and a wild pitch, gave the home team a 7–2 lead.

Yale responded when Tori Balta ’14 started the sixth inning with a single down the left field line. Captain Christy Nelson ’13 then hit a home run, her first of the season, to bring the score to 7–4. But the Bulldogs retired leaving runners on first and third that inning, and even a double by Jen Ong ’13 was not enough for them to secure the win.

“We kept our heads on the ball, made adjustments and kept up high energy in the second game,” Johnson said.

The Bulldogs were ready from the top of the first inning. Ong and Johnson singled, and Kylie Williamson ’15 drove them home with a two-RBI triple. Williamson’s hit was even more impressive considering she pitched five innings in the first game.

“I didn’t have my best day on the mound, but it felt good to turn around and help out offensively,” Williamson said.

Both teams were held scoreless for the next five innings. Sarah Onorato ’15 scored at the top of the seventh, bringing the score to 3–0, and the Pioneers were unable to respond.

Chelsey Dunham ’14, who took her sixth season win, pitched her best game in several weeks. Securing her first shutout of the season, Dunham struck out three batters and gave up only three hits.

“The win today was a complete team win,” Dunham said. “We had great hitting and solid defense throughout the game.”

Team members said the Bulldogs proved more successful at bat and on the field. Yale outhit Sacred Heart in both games, 9–8 in the first and 6–3 in the second, and hits often translated to runs, though Johnson said the Bulldogs still have to work on pitch selection. The team hopes to maintain this level of play for the rest of the season, she added.

“In the next two days we just need to have two focused practices and carry the energy from today into the weekend,” Dunham said. “We know we can win this weekend, and it’s our time to do it together.”

The Bulldogs next face Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. for four games this weekend — Saturday and Sunday at 12:30. Last year they won one of the three games, but team members said they are confident that the recent momentum shift may lead to their first Ivy victory.

Currently, the team has only won one of 12 games against Ivy League opponents.

“We need to take this passion and adrenaline into Dartmouth and remember how it feels to win again,” Johnson said. “Remember that sense of pride and accomplishment and go out and do what it takes to feel that again. We’re ready.”

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