The softball team is probably more than ready to start thinking about next season.
The Elis (14-28, 3-11 Ivy) concluded their season on a sour note, dropping both games of their final doubleheader to Brown (15-18-1, 6-8) May 1 in New Haven. After losing the first game 5-0, the Bulldogs extended game two into extra innings, only to succumb on a Sarah Wilson two-out RBI single in the 11th inning.
With the sweep at the hands of the Bears, the Elis ended up 2-10 in their final twelve games.
“We kind of wanted to just go in there we felt like we had nothing to lose,” catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 said. “But the last game was heartbreaking, since it went to 11 innings. We joke how it was symbolic of our season, but it was definitely disappointing, especially for the seniors.”
The early game showcased the hitting problems the Bulldogs had all season. Through seven innings of work, Brown hurler Uchenna Omokaro held the Elis to just three hits, all of them singles.
On the flip side, Ashley Linnenbank ’06, who put together a very solid spring, faltered in her final outing. The southpaw only allowed seven hits in seven innings of work, but three were home runs, including a pair of solo shots from Brown leadoff hitter Rachel Fleitell.
If the first game was typical of 2005 Yale softball, the Bulldogs did their very best to be atypical in game two. The offense exploded for 10 hits, including three from left fielder Courtney Blachford ’08. Eli ace Peggy Hunt ’06 also came to play, scattering 10 hits and striking out six over 11 innings of work.
Kwiatkowski put the Bulldogs in front with a solo homer in the third, her team-leading sixth of the season. After a two-run Brown fifth, Blachford evened the score by scoring from third on an error from Brown second-baseman Wilson in the bottom of the second.
Both teams threatened in the extra frames, but strong defense kept the score unchanged until the 11 inning. Hunt retired the first two Bears she faced, but then gave up a pair of singles before Wilson sent the winning run home with a hit to left field. In the bottom of the 11th, Niki Haab ’07 hit a two-out single to left to keep the Bulldogs alive, but center fielder Libby Peters ’05 grounded out to second to end the game.
While the Elis’ late-season slide left them at the bottom of the Ancient Eight, individual Bulldogs still received recognition for their performances on the field and in the classroom.
Kwiatkowski led a foursome of Elis who earned spots on All-Ivy teams with her selection as the first team All-Ivy catcher. Kwiatkowski, who was named Most Valuable Player at this year’s annual team banquet, led the Elis in 11 offensive categories, including home runs (6), slugging percentage (.519), runs (28), and despite batting leadoff most of the season RBIs (16).
The other Bulldogs to earn All-Ivy spots were second team third baseman Meredith Parks ’07, and Honorable Mention awardees second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 and utility player Kate Meserve ’07.
Kwiatkowski was also named to the “ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I First Team” for the second year in a row. Hunt, who led the Elis in wins (7) and strikeouts (94), made the Second Team.
“It was nice end my career with those recognitions,” Kwiatkowski said. “And there were other girls who got recognition who were all deserving as well.”
After the season’s conclusion, the Bulldogs dealt with the future, electing Linnenbank as the 2005-2006 captain. Linnenbank, who was also awarded the team’s Most Improved Player award, led the Yale pitching staff with a 2.27 ERA and .219 batting-average-against.
“I love Ashley, and as a catcher, we work really well together,” Haab said. “We didn’t support her as best we could this year, run support and hitting-wise, so we’re just looking forward to showing her she’s appreciated.”