With Ivy League games approaching as quickly as the warm weather, the softball team realizes the importance of fine tuning its play in its games this weekend, its last of nonconference play.

The Bulldogs (17-9) play a doubleheader against the Wagner Seahawks (14-10) on Saturday, followed by another two games against the Sacred Heart Pioneers (4-15) on Sunday. After two wins against Army on Wednesday, the Elis hope to extend their winning streak.

“People are pretty excited about this weekend,” second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 said. “We have a lot of momentum coming off of Army.”

The Bulldogs have already played and beaten both teams in Florida, but both contests were close. The Elis snuck by with a 3-2 win against Sacred Heart and secured a 3-0 win against Wagner during their spring training trip.

But the team is not expecting to coast to victory.

“They are both scholarship schools,” Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda said. “They are always pretty good.”

On Saturday, the Bulldogs will host the Seahawks, a team hoping to extend its own four-game winning streak. The Seahawks, highly successful in their 2005 season, had 30 wins and finished as runners-up in the Northeast Conference. They began this season with seven returning starters.

Junior pitcher Morgan Miller will definitely be a good match for Bulldogs arm Peggy Hunt ’06. This season, Hunt has a 4-2 record to supplement her 252 career strikeouts. Miller has posted five shutouts this season and holds a record of 9-5. Miller is also a two-time first team All-Northeastern Conference Selection. Despite her impressive reputation, the Elis do not seem intimidated.

“It doesn’t matter what happens on the opposite side of the field,” pitcher Deanna DiBernardi ’09 said. “If we pitch our game and she pitches hers, good hitting will come out on top.”

Good hitting is also a quality that both teams share. The Seahawks’ sophomore catcher, Victoria Batistelli, leads the team with 17 runs and 15 RBI. In her most recent game, Batistelli hit a triple and two homeruns for a total of 3 RBI. Although hitting was a previous weakness for the Bulldogs, they have improved a lot this season so far.

“Our hitting this year is much better,” Reinalda said. “We have more home runs this year already than we had all last season.”

Sunday, the Elis will play their second doubleheader of the weekend against Sacred Heart. The game will be the Pioneers’ home opener.

Although the Pioneer’s have won an unimpressive four games to counter their 15 losses, Reinalda said Sacred Heart always plays Yale tough. Ashley McDonough, the Pioneers’ rookie pitcher, has a .420 batting average. McDonough recently won Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week for the week of March 20. The two games this Sunday will be the last of five doubleheaders the Pioneers will have played this week.

The Bulldogs hope to work out the kinks in their game this weekend before they begin their Ivy League play.

“Physical mistakes are going to happen but mental mistakes are what we try to prevent,” Reinalda said. ” It would be nice to go into the Ivies with some more wins on our belt.”