The softball team had a tough weekend against undefeated Harvard, falling in a four-game sweep at the hands of its northern rivals.
Yale (5–32, 1–15 Ivy) had plenty of chances to become the first Ancient Eight team to defeat the Crimson (27–11, 13–0 Ivy) this season, but each opportunity slipped through the squad’s hands as the Bulldogs lost 5–0, 6–2, 11–3 and 7–5 this past weekend.
“We fought hard every game this weekend,” shortstop Laina Do ’17 said. “Harvard is a good hitting team and our pitchers kept them off balance. We need to continue to swing the bat and stay relaxed in tough situations. If we put everything together, we will come out on top.”
The first game saw a dominant performance from Harvard ace Laura Ricciardone, who pitched a complete game four-hitter. She received all the support she needed from her offense in the first two innings, as the Crimson notched two runs in the first and three in the second. Of the five runs scored by Harvard, only three were earned as the Elis recorded two errors in the first two innings.
The game started off on the wrong foot for Yale when pitcher Lindsay Efflandt ’17 walked Harvard’s first batter. Two singles followed to load the bases for the Crimson before an error allowed two to score.
The Bulldogs looked to respond in the bottom of the first inning. Following a leadoff single from captain and center fielder Tori Balta ’14 and a sacrifice bunt, Balta stood in scoring position with only one out. The Elis, however, were unable to push the run across, trailing 2–0 after one inning of play.
Three hits and a walk allowed Harvard to add three runs to the scoreboard in the top of the second inning. Again, Yale looked to answer, and third baseman Hannah Brennan ’15 led off the home half of the inning with a single. But three outs quickly followed.
Pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 relieved Efflandt after the second inning and shut down the Crimson line-up. Neither team managed much offense after the second inning, with Harvard picking up three more hits and the Bulldogs adding two more singles.
Dunham also started the second game on Saturday afternoon, and the Harvard hitters adjusted by the third inning. The scoring started in the top of that inning for the Crimson when right fielder Andrea Del Conte bunted her way on base. A single, double and two stolen bases gave Harvard a two-run lead.
Yale was able to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third inning when Do scored on a sacrifice fly following a lead-off double. The Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to two errors by the Crimson defense.
Harvard, however, struck back in the sixth inning, scoring three runs off a Del Conte home run. The Crimson tallied one more run for insurance in its final at-bat following a string of three singles.
The Elis had runners on first and second base in the bottom of the inning following singles from first baseman Lauren Delgadillo ’16, her third hit of the game, and catcher Sarah Onorato ’15. The Bulldogs, however, were unable to capitalize and fell short of a win, falling 6–2.
Yale had a rough third game of the series on Sunday afternoon, allowing 11 runs, of which only five were earned. The two teams were tied at 0–0 through three innings, but four errors doomed the Elis over the next two innings. Harvard scored its first run in the top of the fourth inning before the floodgates opened, scoring five unearned runs in the fifth.
The Crimson loaded the bases in the sixth inning, but Yale escaped, allowing only one run. Harvard topped off its offensive display with four runs in the last inning. Although the game seemed to be out of reach, the Bulldogs refused to go down without a fight.
The Elis began their last at-bat with two walks, putting a runner in scoring position with no outs. Balta doubled in one run before Do hit a run-scoring single. Delgadillo added another run to the board by hitting a sacrifice fly that scored Balta. Yale, however, was unable to plate any more runs, resulting in the final score of 11–3.
The last game of the series was tightly contested, with Harvard eventually coming out on top following a six run fourth inning. The Crimson struck first, as was the trend throughout the series, scoring one run in the second inning.
Yale responded with a run in the home half of the inning when Brennan, who doubled to start the frame and advanced to third on a sacrifice, stole home on a double steal.
Brennan fueled the offense in the third inning, powering the Bulldogs to a three-run lead following her home run.
Harvard, however, received a three-run home run of its own in the top of the fourth, tying the game at four. The Crimson then built a lead with three more runs in the inning. An error early in the inning gave Harvard an extra out, and four of the six runs scored in the fourth were unearned.
The Elis managed another run in the bottom half of the inning, but the Bulldogs could not close the gap any further over the last three innings, eventually falling 7–5.
“Our pitchers held off a very strong Harvard offense and our hitters have been aggressive at the plate,” Brennan said. “We kept our energy up throughout all four games, especially in the tight spots when we really needed it. We have all the pieces; we just need to put them all together in a solid seven-inning stretch.”
Yale has now lost ten straight games, and the team will look to regroup in a Wednesday double header against Rhode Island beginning at 3 p.m.