The softball team will host Harvard, which remains undefeated in Ivy League play, for a four-game series this weekend at the DeWitt Family Field.
Yale (5–28, 1–11 Ivy) will look to hand the Crimson (23–11, 9–0–1) its first loss in conference play this year. The Bulldogs hope to improve on last year’s results when the Elis were swept 7–4, 4–2, 12–3 in five innings, and 5–3 in Cambridge, Mass.
“Against Harvard, we need to bear down and really get our jobs done at the plate with runners in scoring position to either move them over or hit them in,” catcher Sarah Onorato ’15 said. “Pitchers and defense will need to continue playing strong, and hopefully the runs will come.”
Last season, Harvard finished second to Dartmouth in the North Division of the Ancient Eight and tied with Princeton for third place overall. The Crimson ended its season with a record of 12–8 in the Ivy League and 22–22 overall.
This season, the Crimson has gotten off to a hot start in conference play with a 9–0 record. Harvard opened Ivy play with a series against Princeton, which was suspended midway through the teams’ first game due to inclement weather. The games were replayed this past Thursday, April 17, and Harvard swept Princeton. The Crimson took the first game against Penn 8–3, but the two teams battled it out to a draw in the second game. The coaches decided that it was too dark to begin another inning and the second game was suspended at 8–8 after six innings. Harvard has also swept Columbia in a doubleheader and Brown in a four-game series.
In 34 games, Harvard has scored 150 runs while batting 0.280 with an on-base percentage of 0.353. The team has three players in its starting lineup batting higher than 0.300, led by third baseman Kasey Lange who is hitting 0.375 on the season. Lange also leads the Crimson with six home runs, good for 40 percent of the team’s home runs this season.
Harvard boasts a strong pitching staff that currently has an earned run average of 2.00. The Bulldogs are likely to face pitcher Laura Ricciardone, who is the staff workhorse with 114.1 innings pitched. Ricciardone leads the Crimson with 17 games started and 13 wins, as well as an earned run average of 1.71. Over the course of the series, the Elis will also take swings against pitcher Taylor Cabe, who has started 11 games and has seven wins on the season. In 81.2 innings pitched, Cabe has an earned run average of 2.31.
Yale has hit well in recent games, improving its team’s batting average to 0.216. But the team still struggles to score runs, with 67 runs scored over the course of the season.
“To compete with Harvard, and anyone for that matter, we’re really going have to start scoring runs,” third baseman Hannah Brennan ’15 said. “We hit well [Wednesday], but didn’t string them together like we needed to in order to score runs. Ten hits don’t do us any good if they’re scattered throughout the game.”
Captain and center fielder Tori Balta continues to lead the Bulldogs, hitting .372 with an on-base percentage of 0.417, also a team-high. Onorato and Brennan have hit well as of late, improving their batting averages to .265 and .253, respectively. First baseman Lauren Delgadillo ’16 is also crushing the ball at the plate. She hit her team-leading third home run of the season against Darmouth last weekend.
In the circle, the Elis have shared the workload, with four pitchers seeing significant innings on the bump. Pitcher Lindsay Efflandt ’17 leads the staff with a 3.08 earned run average in 77.1 innings pitched. Pitchers Chelsey Dunham ’14 and Kristen Leung ’14 both made appearances against Dartmouth and have earned run averages of 4.42 and 4.28, respectively.
The two teams will battle it out this weekend in New Haven, with doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday, both beginning at 12:30 p.m.