SOFTBALL: Bulldogs ready to step up to the plate

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Photo by Brianna Loo.

After finishing second to last in the Ivy League last year with a 10–37 overall record, the Yale softball team will be looking for redemption in the 2014 season, which begins this weekend.

While the Bulldogs graduated three players from last season’s starting lineup, the team will look to improve with the addition of seven freshmen to the roster. Yale also returns power-hitting catcher Sarah Onorato ’15, as well as its entire pitching staff.

“There’s a huge difference [between this year and last year],” said pitcher Rhydian Glass ’16. “There’s been so much more motivation, and I’ve felt a lot more enthusiasm.”

Onorato was Yale’s primary contributor on offense last season and will again be a key batter for the Bulldogs in her junior year.

She was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2013 after breaking three school records and leading the Ancient Eight in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, doubles, home runs and runs scored. Her .430 batting average was 21st in the nation.

First basemen Lauren Delgadillo ’16 and infielder Brittany Labbadia ’16 also established themselves as leaders at the plate in their first seasons. Delgadillo batted .373 in 18 games before missing much of the season due to injury, and Labbadia was fourth on the team with a .257 average.

Yale returns all five pitchers from last season, including aces Chelsey Dunham ’14 and Glass, who combined to start 41 of the team’s 47 games last year. Glass led the team with a 4.92 ERA in 2013.

“We have a solid number of pitchers, so injuries will hopefully not be too much of an issue,” Glass said. “The more pitchers we have, the better. It just creates a more diverse pitching body that we can use to our advantage in doubleheaders.”

Pitcher Lindsay Efflandt ’17 will give the Bulldogs another arm to use throughout the season.

Captain and outfielder Tori Balta ’14 said that Efflandt, along with the other six freshmen on the team, will be able to make immediate contributions to the Bulldogs.

“This group of freshmen is really diverse in the skills they bring, so I think all of them really have a chance to impact the team greatly,” Balta said.

The Elis have already gotten a chance to play competitively in the City Series against three other local colleges last fall. Yale beat the University of New Haven 4–3 in the semifinal game and then handled Southern Connecticut 12–6 to take the title.

Balta said that the team has set the bar high heading into this season.

“Our primary goal is to win [the Ivy League], that’s definitely our primary goal,” Balta said. “And to beat Harvard, of course, and to have a winning record.”

Yale will head to Virginia Beach this weekend to play in the Norfolk State Tournament, its first games of 2014.

During the first week of spring break, the team will play spring training games at the USF Under Armour Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.

“We’re just putting all the pieces together at this point, because we’ve been working so hard throughout the offseason on fundamentals and the basics,” Glass said. “Now it’s getting into the game mode.”

The Bulldogs’ Ivy League season will get underway March 28, against Penn.

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