With several frustrating performances over the last week, the softball team will look to regroup this weekend.
Yale (14-14-1, 1-3 Ivy) will face Columbia (17-11, 2-2 Ivy) and Cornell (17-13, 2-2 Ivy) this weekend at Dewitt Family Field. The Lions travel to New Haven Saturday for a doubleheader, followed by the Big Red on Sunday.
“It’s going to be two more great teams,” captain Laura Beckert ’03 said. “Whoever comes with their best game is going to come home with the win.”
After dropping five of their last six games, the Bulldogs are in serious need of a confidence booster. The latest disappointment for the Elis came Wednesday when they fell twice to Marist College in extra innings.
But Columbia and Cornell should prove to be formidable foes, as both sit above Yale in the Ivy standings. The two teams fared equally well against Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania last weekend, each dropping two games to the league-leading Tigers and sweeping their doubleheaders with the Quakers.
“I’m expecting some very, very tough competition,” head coach Andy Van Etten said. “If we play the way we played [against Marist], we’ll lose four.”
Van Etten was particularly disappointed with Yale’s defense against the Red Foxes. The Eli squad committed six errors on the afternoon, including some costly mistakes at the end of both games.
Thus, a strong defensive effort will be key for the Bulldogs this weekend. While the Lions and Big Red have committed 29 and 49 errors, respectively, Yale has booted the ball 59 times this season.
“The errors are shocking to all of us, because before this we were a very strong defensive team,” Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 said. “As a team, we just need to learn to relax.”
Kwiatkowski splits her time between catcher and first base. When Kwiatkowski is at first, Amy Drega ’03 gets the nod behind the plate. The pair has been two of the more consistent Eli fielders. In Drega’s 18 games, she has committed just one error. Kwiatkowski has garnered a .978 fielding percentage while starting every game this season.
Rounding out the infield is Jesseka Bartholomew ’03, Yale’s leading offensive player, who has started every game at third base. Rina Brannen ’04 has seen consistent playing time at second after Leah Kelley ’04 made the move from second to shortstop.
After juggling his lineup during the first couple of weeks of the season, Van Etten has settled on this starting infield. But those five players have combined for 33 of Yale’s 59 errors, indicating that the Elis have yet to gel as a unit.
“Before, we were shuffled around,” Kwiatkowski said. “Some people came in and had never played [a certain] position before, but this is where [coach needed] them to play.”
With Princeton currently undefeated in the Ancient Eight at 6-0, Yale will need to play nearly flawless softball to have any chance at an Ivy crown.
That perfection needs to start this weekend.
“What we need to really do now is just pull it together and leave everything in the past,” Kwiatkowski said. “We really need to pull out these Ivy wins.”