The softball team will play back-to-back doubleheaders in a home-and-home series against Brown this weekend for the squad’s season finale.
Yale (5–32, 1–15 Ivy) enters the four-game series tied with Brown (3–31, 1–15) for last place in the Ivy League. Each team has posted one win against an Ancient Eight foe, with the Bulldogs defeating Princeton 2–1 and the Bears beating Dartmouth 3–1.
The two teams split a competitive series last season, with Brown winning games one and three 8–1 and 9–8 and Yale defeating the Bears in games two and four 5–2 and 12–2. The Elis’ four seniors, captain and center fielder Tori Balta ’14, pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14, pitcher Kristen Leung ‘14 and first baseman Alex Lucas ’14 will look to end their careers victorious.
“Heading into the last four games, we are trying to finish the season on a good note,” second baseman Laina Do ’17 said. “We want to leave the seniors with a couple of wins. As long as we stay relaxed, have fun doing what we love and put everything together this last weekend, we should definitely be able to beat Brown.”
Brown is coming off its first conference win of the year, and the team is batting .205 on the season. Over 34 games, the Bears have scored 65 runs and slugged eight home runs. A pair of freshmen — shortstop Christina Andrews and outfielder Casey Fisher — lead the Brown lineup, hitting .280 and .269, respectively. Andrews has also hit a team-high three home runs and driven in 10 runs.
The Bulldogs will likely face pitcher Jessica Cherness, who has pitched 95.0 innings, compiling a record of 1–13 with a 5.01 earned run average. Pitcher Leah Nakashima will also likely toss for the Bears, as she has thrown 60.0 innings with a record of 2–10 and a 4.32 earned run average.
Although Yale faced a tough weekend against Harvard, the Bulldogs have scored ten runs in their past three games combined and will look for the same offensive success this weekend.
Over the course of 37 games this season, the Elis have scored 77 runs with a .218 batting average. Balta continues to lead the lineup with a .364 batting average. Both third baseman Hannah Brennan ’15 and first baseman Lauren Delgadillo ’16 have hit a team-leading three home runs this year.
In the circle, Yale will look to pitchers Lindsay Efflandt ’17 and Dunham, who have shouldered most of the workload this year, pitching 94.0 and 78.2 innings, respectively. Efflandt leads the team with a 2.90 earned run average, and Dunham follows with a 4.36 earned run average. Dunham and Leung each have two wins on the season to lead the team.
All four seniors have made important contributions to the team throughout the years. Balta has started in center field over the past four years, and she has earned All-Ivy recognition in each of her first three seasons. Dunham has anchored the pitching staff during her time at Yale, pitching 508.3 career innings with 49 complete games. Leung has also made a presence in the circle, pitching 204 innings throughout her career. She earned the team’s Most Improved Player Award following her sophomore season. Lucas is the team’s third multi-recipient of the Andy Van Etten Coaches Award, which is given to the player who best represents the ideals of Yale softball that go beyond the statistics.
“Last year, we sent our seniors off on a great weekend, so I’m hoping we can do the same for this year’s seniors,” Brennan said. “No matter the outcome, I’m hoping we can come together as a team and have a solid final series against Brown … At this point in our season, this weekend is all about giving our seniors a memorable, fun, successful last weekend of ball. I hope we can do that for them.”
The Elis begin their first doubleheader at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon in Providence, R.I. before playing their final two games of the season at Dewitt Family Field beginning at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon.