The clutch hitting that propelled the Yale softball team to its 7-3 start failed the Bulldogs yesterday.

Yale (7-5) dropped both games of a doubleheader to St. John’s (12-15), losing the opener 2-0 and the next 5-3 in extra innings.

“We had the opportunities today,” head coach Andy Van Etten said. “But we just couldn’t get the hits we needed.”

The lack of production from the Eli bats spoiled a pitching gem from junior Cara Denver in the first game and could not support a Bulldog staff that faltered in the last four innings of the second game.

The Bulldog offense appeared to get off to a good start in the back end of the double-header. The team scored once in the first inning and then twice in the third after the Red Storm got on the board with a run of its own in the second inning. Yale captain Monica Lebron ’01 scored the team’s first two runs, driven in by a Jesseka Bartholomew ’03 single in the first inning and an Alice Liu ’01 triple in the third. Liu then crossed the plate after Bartholomew’s second hit of the game.

“Things started off great in the second game,” Van Etten said. “But once we got up, we gave [the runs] right back.”

Leading 3-1 after three innings, the Bulldogs saw the game begin to get away from them in fourth. St. John’s came out with three straight hits and a fielder’s choice. After one run crossed the plate, the Red Storm had the bases loaded with no outs. Freshman pitcher Shayna Filson then impressively pitched out of the jam, inducing two straight ground-outs and a fly-out to right to escape with only one run scored.

St. John’s had three hits in the next inning, but Yale managed to get out of the inning with its lead intact. Amy Drega ’03 picked off a runner on second, and then Liu made a great relay throw from center field to get the third out of the inning at the plate. But rather than breathe new life into the Yale squad, the two near misses signaled the beginning of the end for the Bulldogs.

St. John’s tied the game in the top of the sixth inning and then went ahead for good on a two-run home run in the eighth.

“It was pretty disheartening after we didn’t put more runs on the board in the [fourth and fifth] innings,” Red Storm head coach Melody Cope said. “But we did a nice job of coming back and executing at the plate.”

In the front end of the doubleheader, St. John’s pitcher Gina Calabrese out-dueled Denver for the 2-0 win. Denver limited the Red Storm to an unearned run in the first and a home run in the third, while scattering four hits over seven innings.

“We had great pitching in the first game,” Lebron said. “But you can’t win if you don’t score runs.”

Although Calabrese surrendered only two hits, the Bulldogs made solid contact all game. But the hits did not seem to fall.

“We hit the ball hard,” Van Etten said. “But each time, it was right at somebody.”

But the Bulldogs received some good news today when freshman second baseman Leah Kelley was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for her performance in Florida. Kelley is currently hitting .304 and leads the Bulldogs with a .409 on-base percentage. Kelley went 3-for-4 in the 7-0 win over Sacred Heart and 2-for-3 in the 3-2 win over Robert Morris, both on March 7.

Yale will look to rebound from the two losses when it travels to Fairfield Friday for a doubleheader against the Stags.

“We had some bright spots today,” Van Etten said. “We’ll take these losses and grow from them.”

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