In its annual trip to the Sunshine State, the Yale softball team spent 10 days facing 13 different opponents in the Spring Rebel Games.

The Bulldogs (11-9) went 6-8 during their stay in Florida, before returning to Connecticut to split a doubleheader with Fairfield University Saturday.

Yale jumped out to a strong start in Orlando, defeating Youngstown State, 5-3, and Rider University, 2-0, on Mar. 11. Cara Denver ’02 pitched a two-hitter against Rider en route to one of her three shutout victories in Florida. Denver pitched complete games in the Bulldogs’ 7-0 win over Austin Peay and 8-0 win over Colgate. For her performances, Denver was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week for March 19.

“Cara’s doing extremely well right now,” said Jillian Miles ’04, another key member of Yale’s pitching rotation. “She’s not overpowering, she’s very under control, she doesn’t walk many people — she just hits her targets and she keeps the ball low. If me and Shayna [Filson ’04] start producing like Cara has, we’ll do really well.”

The Elis’ lone doubleheader of the Florida trip came against the powerful Stetson University team. The Hatters came into the games on a 19-game winning streak, and added to that tally with a 6-2 win in the first game and a 7-1 victory in the second.

“They’re a Florida school, so they have good weather year-round [and] they had already played almost thirty games,” Denver said. “So it’s just about having experience and having played together.”

While in Florida, the Bulldogs got a good look at some of their Ivy opponents, as Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn all participated in the Rebel Games as well. In their only Ivy League match-up, the Elis fell to the Lions 4-2 on March 17. Despite the loss, Yale still feels good about its chances in the Ancient Eight.

“We definitely found out that they don’t have anything that we can’t beat,” captain Laura Beckert ’03 said. “We got to see some other Ivy teams down there, so we know what we’re competing against. And we think we match up pretty well athlete for athlete.”

The Lions opened up a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Hilary Jacobs’ sacrifice fly and then manufactured three more runs in the top of the fourth. Britni Fabacher ’04 and Jackie Crispell ’03 both had RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth, but the comeback was not to be. Columbia pitchers Katie Zunno and Allison Buehler kept the Elis at bay most of the game with a combined 14 strikeouts.

The loss came a non-league game and thus will not affect Yale’s Ivy record.

After playing Columbia, Yale went 3-2 in its last five games in Orlando. The Bulldogs logged victories over Vermont, Colgate and Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“In Florida, we had a lot of timely hits in key situations and those are the games that we won,” third baseman Jesseka Bartholomew ’03 said. “The games that we lost, there was just a lack of those timely hits.”

The Elis returned to Connecticut to take on the in-state rival Stags in Fairfield Saturday. Yale dropped a heartbreaker in the first game of the double header, going 10 innings before losing 3-2. The Stags jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Bulldogs tied the game in the fourth inning on RBI hits from Bartholomew and Julia Bossett ’05.

With the game tied in the bottom of the tenth, Fairfield sophomore Megan Miller was placed on second base in keeping with the international tie breaker rule. The rule states that a runner will automatically be placed on second base from the tenth inning on. Ellen Sarosy then bunted Miller to third and an error allowed Miller to score the winning run.

The Bulldogs bounced back in the second game for a 2-1 win. Bartholomew led the Bulldogs at the plate in the two-game series with three hits. The junior out of Lake Forest, California had a hot bat throughout the break, cracking three home runs during the Rebel Games.

Bartholomew led Yale last season in batting average (.326) and hits (47).

“I’m not a home run hitter, I’m a singles hitter,” Bartholomew said. “The balls that I hit just happened to be in the right spot. When I hit, I just try to make contact. If the balls hit in the right spot, it’s going to go over the fence.”

Yale next travels to St. John’s for a doubleheader Wednesday.