SOFTBALL | Yale triumphs in first Ivy weekend

Third baseman Christy Nelson ’13 went a perfect three-for-three in Yale’s 3–2 win over Princeton on Sunday. The senior also leads the Elis with 12 walks this season.
Third baseman Christy Nelson ’13 went a perfect three-for-three in Yale’s 3–2 win over Princeton on Sunday. The senior also leads the Elis with 12 walks this season. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

In its opening weekend of Ivy League play, the Yale softball team showed a flair for the dramatic, sweeping Cornell for the first time since 1996 and splitting a doubleheader with Princeton on the strength of three extra-inning wins.

The Bulldogs (7-15, 3-1 Ivy) started off the weekend with a two-for-one of sorts, beating Cornell 7–2 in 13 innings, nearly twice the normal game length. Starting pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 went the distance, throwing the complete game — a 178-pitch masterpiece.

“Chelsey really did a fantastic job of keeping us in the game,” catcher Sarah Onorato ’15 said. “[She] made adjustments when [she] needed to and our defense made plays.”

Onorato herself came up strong in the victory. After Cornell scored two in the first inning, she singled in the top of the fifth, setting up first baseman Kelsey Warkentine’s ’13 two-run shot to tie it up. Later in the top of the 13th inning, Onorato blasted a three-run home run to break the tie and deliver the Elis’ first win over the Big Red since 2004.

In the nightcap, the Bulldogs again needed extra innings to put away the Big Red, escaping with a 7–5 victory in nine innings. Right-hander Rhydian Glass ’16 started, throwing five solid innings before being relieved by Kristen Leung ’14, who cruised through the final four innings to record the victory.

“Kristen was key in relief against Cornell,” Onorato said.

However, without some late-game heroics by the offense, Leung would never have had the chance to prove herself. Heading into the seventh inning, the Bulldogs trailed by two. Kylie Williamson ’15 led off the inning with a single, followed by an infield hit from Allie Souza ’16. After an RBI single from Jennifer Ong ’13 cut the deficit to one, Souza raced home on a wild pitch to tie the game at five.

Onorato was once again the heroine, smacking a one-out opposite field home run in the ninth to make the game 7-5. It was Onorato’s ninth dinger of the year, one short of the Yale single-season record and her fourth consecutive game with a long ball.

“I’ve certainly never done something like what I did in extras at Cornell,” Onorato said. “I was just happy to be able to break through for my teammates.”

Sunday’s games against Princeton also featured their fair share of suspense. The Tigers dominated Game 1 of the doubleheader, scoring three runs in the first inning and cruising to a 6-1 win.

The series finale was a hard-fought pitcher’s duel. The Elis kicked off the scoring with a first-and-third double steal that scored Onorato, but Princeton answered with a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Each squad tacked on another run in the fifth, and it took until the eighth for the Bulldogs to pounce, when Riley Hughes ’15 hit an RBI groundout to score Tori Balta ’14.

“Completing the game and getting the win felt unreal,” said Glass, who threw a complete game to collect her second win of the season. “On the mound it is so reassuring knowing that my team is there behind me, ready to attack and defend anything that comes their way.”

After the team’s 3–1 start, Yale sits in the lead of the North Division, on top of Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown.

“Beating [Cornell and Princeton] proved that Yale softball is an aggressive team with a lot of resilience, and I have total confidence that we will carry this [forward],” Glass said.

The Bulldogs take on Bryant today at 3:00 p.m. at Dewitt Family Field.

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