The Yale softball team started off its first day of Ivy League competition on the right foot, but it then stumbled severely on the second.

The Bulldogs (14-15, 2-2 Ivy) swept a doubleheader from host Columbia (11-15, 1-5) Saturday, but dropped two straight to Cornell (20-11, 6-0) the following day in Ithaca, N.Y.

Yale had two dominating pitching performances against the Lions, shutting out Columbia 3-0 and 1-0. But the following day, the Big Red turned the tables on Yale, winning by convincing 10-1 and 8-0 scores. After the first weekend of Ivy competition, Yale is fourth in the league.

“Overall, I felt the weekend was okay,” said pitcher Cara Denver ’02, who recorded the victory in Yale’s first win over Columbia. “But we would’ve liked to come away with four wins.”

Denver pitched phenomenally in the opener against the Lions, throwing a one-hitter in her most impressive outing of the season. With Denver’s pitching and 11 hits from the Bulldog offense, Yale was never threatened on its way to the 3-0 victory.

“Saturday, I felt that I was pitching pretty well,” Denver said. “But the team played excellent defense behind Jillian [Miles ’04] and me, and that is what won the games for us.”

Columbia’s lone hit came in the second inning on an infield single that rolled a mere 10 feet from the plate.

Yale’s offense, in contrast, was much more potent. Kristen Maturo ’01, Alice Liu ’01 and Jesseka Bartholomew ’02 each had three hits in the game, while captain Monica Lebron ’01 added two.

“[In the first game against Columbia] Cara did a great job,” head coach Andy Van Etten said. “She pitched very well, and we got the runs we needed.”

The back end of the doubleheader was more of the same. Miles, who started the second game, limited Columbia to two hits. Yale was able to manufacture a run in the third, enough to notch the 1-0 victory.

“[Miles] pitched a really good game,” Van Etten said. “And [on offense] I’d rather be lucky than good any day.”

While Miles cruised along, Columbia pitcher Kate Zunno was having similar success with the Yale lineup. Her lone mistake — and Yale’s lucky break — was giving up a one-out single to shortstop Rina Brannen ’01, who single-handedly accounted for Yale’s run. Once on first, Brannen stole second and then took third and home on two passed balls.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, all their weekend’s luck was used up Saturday. Cornell jumped all over the Yale pitching and held the offense to only one run in two games.

“Earlier in the week, Cornell had beaten Columbia 1-0 and 4-0, so I figured we had a pretty good shot going up there,” Van Etten said. “But after the third or fourth inning, we just couldn’t get them out. That team hits.”

Lebron and freshman Leah Kelley led the way for Yale, with two hits apiece on the day, but they were no match for the Cornell offense. The Big Red racked up 18 runs on 23 hits in the two games, as it pulled ahead of the Ivy pack with a 6-0 league record.

The Bulldogs will travel to Quinnipiac for a Wednesday doubleheader, and will host Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania this weekend.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”20554″ ]