Riding a wave of momentum, the softball team (10-16) kicks off its Ivy League campaign over the weekend when it plays host to the University of Pennsylvania and defending champion Princeton.

The schedule worked in the Elis’ favor this season as the team was able to work out its kinks long before the beginning of conference play. After starting the season 0-7 and then 2-12, the Bulldogs have righted themselves on this homestand.

Leading the way has been Beth Pavlicek ’06, who has earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors the past two weeks. This week, Pavlicek spearheaded a sweep of St. John’s and Central Connecticut State. Against the Red Storm, she cracked a triple and a game-winning home run in the opener and followed it up by pitching a two-hit complete game in the nightcap. Pavlicek leads the team in ERA (1.12) and strikeouts (43) and is fourth in batting average (.288).

While the Elis are not overlooking the Quakers (6-15-1, 0-2 Ivy)–both teams have lost to Quinnipiac this year, Yale twice so–the primary focus this week is on unseating the Tigers (10-10-1, 2-0). Along with Cornell and Harvard, Princeton is a team the Bulldogs know they must compete with in a parity-filled league in order to rise to the top.

“Princeton is really crucial,” said second baseman Emily Lederer ’06. “It will decide how the Ivies are going to go if we win.”

Lederer is a Yale Daily News staff reporter.

One constant throughout the season has been the bat of captain Jesseka Bartholomew ’03. Last week, Bartholomew earned Ivy League Honor Roll status for hitting .583 over the four games to up her team-leading clip to .379. Now, the rest of the team has fallen in step and in timely fashion: Pavlicek and catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 hit game-winning home runs in the team’s final at-bats in the two St. John’s games, and the Bulldogs outhit the Bobcats 13-6 in their games last Thursday.

With the offensive production, the Elis have had the luxury of playing with early leads. Holding those leads will be key against Princeton. After a postponement of Wednesday’s doubleheader with Army, the Bulldogs will have had eight days off when they take the field tomorrow. Any signs of rust would appear early and hurt the cause, even against an apparently weaker Quaker squad.

“We always have the ability to get ahead early,” Lederer said. “We have to keep the lead instead of letting errors or nerves get in the way.”