The Ivy season is still almost two weeks away, but the Yale softball team is already off to a strong start. The Elis traveled to West Point, N.Y., to face Army yesterday, returning to the Elm City with another two wins under their belts, 9-3 and 4-3.

Outhit by the Black Knights (6-20) in one game and just barely avoiding the same fate in the other, the Bulldogs (17-9) scored more runs by relying on timely hitting. Yale came out on top in the first game of the doubleheader, but stronger defense on the part of both teams kept the second game of the day close. Yale pulled off the win at the top of the seventh inning, scraping by with a one-run edge over Army.

The Elis came out of the gate slowly in the afternoon’s opener, falling behind, 1-0, by the bottom of the second. But when the dust cleared after an explosive third inning, Yale was up 4-1. A double, a walk, a wild pitch and a hit player set the stage for Yale’s first runs of the day. Another wild pitch drove in center fielder Kate Meserve ’07, and left fielder Courtney Blachford ’08 hit a double to center field that earned her two RBIs. She later scored at the close of the half-inning.

The Black Knights mounted a counter-offensive, but never closed the gap by more than two runs. Four more Eli runs went unanswered, and the Bulldogs closed out the game up by six.

The Army team was more potent than the final score would seem to indicate. Army led with 10 hits to Yale’s eight until the seventh inning, when the Bulldogs racked up four more to the Black Knights’ one. But players said the key to victory was racking up their hits when good opportunities arose.

“We did well in taking advantage of some mistakes the Army team made,” shortstop Aracelis Torres ’08 said.

The Bulldogs did not fare as well in the second game, despite eking out a narrow win. A pitching change in between games brought a quicker Black Knight to the mound, a switch the Elis took time to adjust to, Torres said.

They did recognize the change in time, but only after falling by the end of the third. Two runs, including one off an Army error, evened out the score, but Army answered in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead. Yale tied it up again at 4-4 in the fifth, but it was not until the top of the seventh that the Bulldogs pulled ahead for the first time, notching one run that went unanswered.

Both teams stepped up their defense in the second game, second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 said. Yale had only five hits to Army’s 10, but again earning hits at all the right times made the difference.

Guerland said the team was aggressive in its base running, but had room for improvement in spite of its recent run of success.

“We’ve had a couple defensive errors in the last couple games,” she said. “We need to increase communication at certain times.”

The team will continue non-League play this weekend with a home doubleheader against Wagner and a pair of matches against Sacred Heart in Fairfield.