While the softball team is out of the hunt for an Ivy League title, putting together two strong wins in its last Ancient Eight doubleheader is still very much a goal.
Yale (20-20-1, 5-7 Ivy) faces Brown (12-20, 4-8 Ivy) at 3 p.m. at Dewitt Family Field. Since Princeton has already clinched the 2002 Ivy League Championship, all that is at stake for the Bulldogs is pride.
“We just want to end on a good note,” captain Laura Beckert ’03 said. “Right now we’re just trying to focus on taking one game at a time.”
Yale comes into today’s contest on the heels of a doubleheader with Sacred Heart last Wednesday. The Elis and Pioneers split the two games, with Yale winning the first 4-0 and Sacred Heart taking the nightcap 4-1.
For the Bulldogs, Wednesday’s games were representative of the entire season. A strong all-around game in the first contest gave way to a mediocre performance in the second.
The Eli nine earned the win in the first game behind an outstanding two-hit pitching gem from Jillian Miles ’04. Miles threw a complete game, allowing four walks and striking out a season-high 11 batters.
Miles also got help from her offense. Jesseka Bartholomew ’03 went two-for-four with two RBIs and Shayna Filson ’04 was a perfect three-for-three.
But for the fourth time in Yale’s last five doubleheaders, the Elis were only able to split the two-game series. Pioneers pitcher Michele Walker threw a complete three-hitter as the Bulldogs fell 4-1. All four of Sacred Heart’s runs came in the third inning on three hits and some key defensive mistakes.
“The second game, they had a pitcher who kept the ball away from us and spotted it well,” Yale head coach Andy Van Etten said. “Plus, we made a couple of bonehead plays defensively.”
Since returning from Florida after spring break, Yale has just one doubleheader sweep, against Columbia April 13. The Elis have dropped both games of three doubleheaders, and have split the remaining series.
Van Etten said he was perplexed by the team’s inconsistency.
“Quite often we’ll lose with the same lineup,” Van Etten said. “Maybe it’s a matter of intensity. I haven’t figured that one out yet.”
For the most part, the team’s pitching has been strong all season, suggesting that the inconsistency lies with the Eli batters. The Bulldog’s ace, Cara Denver ’02 had the second-lowest ERA in the league as of April 16. And in 115 innings-pitched, Denver has allowed a paltry 12 walks.
Miles and Shayna Filson ’04, while less dominant, have nevertheless kept Yale in games, logging ERAs of 2.44 and 2.11, respectively.
“[Cara’s] been a great example for our two younger kids,” Beckert said of the team’s three-pitcher rotation. “[Miles and Filson] are definitely different pitchers than Cara, but she’s just helped them see how important it is [for example] not to walk people.”
Where Yale struggles is at the plate. The Eli nine are batting .236 as a team, as compared to the champion Tigers, who are hitting .284. Bartholomew, at .371, is the only Bulldog batting above .300 on the season.
“I think it’s been different people [hitting well] every game,” Beckert said. “Now it’s just about getting everyone to be consistent.”
With Denver the only senior on the team, Yale can use today’s showdown with the Bears and Tuesday’s two games against Quinnipiac to build momentum for next season.
“There’s always pride at stake,” Van Etten said. “I would hope we don’t roll over and play dead.”