Though the opponents Yale softball will face this weekend are not colorful, perennial Ivy League rivals such as Harvard or Princeton, Farleigh-Dickinson (2-17) and Marist (7-5) remain two formidable opponents for the Bulldogs.
“We’re expecting two pretty competitive games this weekend,” shortstop Aracelis Torres ’08 said.
Fresh off a win against local rival Quinnipiac, the Elis (13-7) hope to continue to build on their early success and win both of their doubleheader contests this weekend. The Bulldogs move into this weekend’s competition with considerable momentum after their win Wednesday and valuable experience on their spring trip to Florida.
Utility player Katlyn Meserve ’07 said she thought the Bulldogs’ spring trip to Florida, and their exposure to such competitive opponents as Tennessee State, Saint Joseph’s and Cleveland State will help them in the rest of their contests, particularly this weekend.
“Our hardest competition is [what] we faced in Florida,” Meserve said. “Florida was harder because [those games] were our first games of the season, and these other teams had 10 games already under their belt.”
After that trip and several games at home, the Elis are at .650 and have batted .322 in their last five games. They are fourth in the Ivy League in batting average overall with .265, a statistic which rose to .269 after the team’s victory over Quinnipiac Wednesday. They are currently in first place in the Ivy League standings due to their success in the preseason.
The Bulldogs have benefited from strong hitting and defense so far, and successfully adjusted their game from mistakes early in the season. Currently, the Elis said they are most worried about their offensive power. All of Yale’s pitchers started this week in the top six in the league in earned run average.
“This past Sunday we had the problem of moving the runners over and getting the clutch hits, and we changed that against Quinnipiac,” Torres said. “We just have to keep that going, and not take any opponent lightly this weekend.”
Although the Bulldogs have been hitting well and playing good defense, they need to focus on committing fewer errors in order to win this weekend.
“We have to focus on hitting in crucial situations and on stringing hits together,” Meserve said. “That’s something we’ve looked to improve — hitting with runners on base, getting that crucial hit that might mean a run.
Rather than focus on preparing for specific teams, the Bulldogs have been more focused on executing their own strategy.
“It’s a little more us playing our game,” catcher/outfielder Niki Haab ’07 said. “It’s more looking at their Web site and seeing who’s hitting, who’s hot.”
Though playing away may seem to be a natural disadvantage, it may not harm the Bulldogs significantly.
“I feel with our team whether we play home or away doesn’t really affect us,” Meserve said. “Especially with mental preparation, on weekends we’re able to focus more on softball, and in some respects, being away on the weekend has its benefits when it comes to focusing.”
Haab said she thought the Elis would be challenged by their recent injuries, as everyone has to play a lot of minutes due to a smaller roster and grueling doubleheaders
The Elis said a consistent problem has been stringing together hits with runners on base in order to score.
“Even if the scoreboard has us hitting 20 hits in a game, as long as we have those five or six in a row, that’s what matters,” Torres said. “It’s just avoiding errors, the mental ones and the physical ones.”
Farleigh Dickinson has played Yale for the last three years, with Yale winning four of the teams’ last six meetings. Knight pitcher Shauna Hawthorne, who has allowed a mere 20 earned runs in 35.1 innings, anchors the defense and first baseman Caitlyn Reuter leads the team with a .308 batting average.
Marist and Yale will compete for the sixth straight year, and the Elis lead the series, 8-6. Marist has a formidable offense, with three players batting over .300.
Meserve said she was optimistic about the Elis’ chance to win this weekend.
“If we do everything we have the capability of doing, this weekend’s competition will be nothing that we can’t handle,” she said.