Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute or two.”
The Yale softball team seems to be just as capricious as the weather they play in.
The Bulldogs (12-18, 2-2 Ivy) played a doubleheader against Fairfield (18-15) yesterday and, continuing their season trend, the Elis split the twinbill. Game one was a hitting fest, with each team putting up 10 base knocks. While the Bulldogs made a charge late, scoring two runs in the final frame, they fell short by the final score of 6-4.
Game two was a pitchers duel between Ashley Linnenbank ’06 and Stag hurler Cagney Ringnalda, with neither pitcher allowing more than two hits through the first five innings. But the two-run Yale sixth inning was the difference, and the Elis held on to win, 2-0.
“I think it was another important day going into an Ivy weekend,” catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 said. “Ashley pitched well, which should build some good confidence for her. It’s another split, so we lost a game, but Fairfield is a good team so it’s not a bad result. The second game, we got some quality hits, and we played them hard all day.”
The Eli bats did come alive at times yesterday, but Linnenbank put up the top performance. The lefty started out with three innings of no-hit ball and ended up with a three-hit shutout for her fourth win of the season. While Linnenbank only notched one strikeout in 24 batters faced, she kept the Fairfield hitters off-balance for seven innings with a varied pitch selection.
“We didn’t adjust,” Fairfield captain Tara Hansen said. “We kept making the same mistakes. She had a really good rise ball and lots of off speed pitches — she fooled us.”
Linnenbank, who has held opponents to low offensive levels throughout this spring, was finally the recipient of run support. Last Sunday, she held Harvard to two earned runs on four hits through seven innings, but the Bulldogs could not muster any offense behind her in the eventual 2-0 loss.
“It was nice to keep us in there, to not give up hits until we could score,” Linnenbank said.
While the Bulldogs did not put up any runs in the first five innings of yesterday’s late game, they only struck out twice in that time. Nearly every batter got her bat on the ball, with several Elis hitting deep flies.
The hits finally came in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Kwiatkowski started things off with a hard line drive off of Ringnalda’s glove. Stag shortstop Molly Harris was able to scoop up the ball, but Kwiatkowski beat out the throw to first.
Second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 followed that up with a single over the third baseman’s head into shallow left, bringing captain Chelsea Kanyer ’06 to the plate with runners on first and second. On a ball low and outside the strike zone, Kanyer just made contact and singled past the diving shortstop into center field to plate Kwiatkowski.
Third baseman Meredith Parks ’07, who has held a hot bat since returning from injury last week, singled to right to load the bases. Left fielder Emily Lederer ’06 wrapped up the Bulldog on-base streak by earning a walk, moving the runners around and bringing Guerland home.
“The hitting is definitely coming back,” Kanyer said. “It’s great having Meredith back in the lineup — her hits helped a lot.”
The early game was a mix of good and bad. While the Elis did put up 10 hits, they left eight runners on base, compared to four for the Stags, and failed to string together more than three hits in any inning. The Bulldogs also had to deal with an uncharacteristic problem — pitching woes.
After allowing two runs on three hits in the third inning, Jessica Meyer ’07 allowed Fairfield’s Julia Jacoby to reach on an error, and then gave up a two-run home run to Hansen. Meyer gave up another single before she was relieved by Peggy Hunt ’06.
Hunt forced a pop-out, but then gave up the second two-run blast of the inning, this time to Shannon Logan.
“I told the pitchers at the beginning of the season, you have to keep the ball in the park,” Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda said. “We gave up two home runs, and it took us out of the game.”
The Bulldogs did put together some solid innings, most notably the last one. Center fielder Courtney Blachford ’08, Kwiatkowski and Guerland all singled to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. After Kanyer struck out, Parks hit the ball hard to Fairfield’s Harris at short. Harris was able to get Guerland at second, but Blachford scored and Kwiatkowski moved to third on the play.
Designated player Aracelis Torres ’08 was the next to pick on Harris, hitting a low line drive that the shortstop could not handle and allowing Kwiatkowski to come home. Right fielder Rachel Kelley ’05 came to the plate with the tying run on first, but she grounded out to the second baseman to end the game.
Despite the Bulldogs’ offensive production in spurts throughout game one, Reinalda said that the Elis did not come in ready to play, a phenomenon she ascribes to the fact that the Stags were a non-conference opponent.
“It’s the same pitcher you’ve faced for seven innings, and you finally decide to hit when you’re down 6-1?” Reinalda said. “It’s all mental. The unfortunate thing is there is so much emphasis on the Ivies that you forget about the other games. We have to learn to treat all of our games like Ivy games.”
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