It wasn’t the home run derby, but that did not stop the softball players from hitting six balls out of the park over the course of two games yesterday.
In front of a crowd that topped out at 25, and battling an almost 20 mph wind blowing from third to right center, Yale (13-3) split two games against Fairfield (5-13) yesterday in just the second set of home games this year and the first Eli home defeat of the young season.
The Stags took well to the Bulldog pitching in the first two innings of the earlier game, hitting one three run homer per frame. After that, the Elis were doomed to finish behind, 8-5, and two unearned runs would be their entire scoring effort until the fifth inning.
“In the first game, the pitchers have to keep the ball inside the ballpark,” Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda said. “If you don’t, it’s going to be tough.”
After a small Yale comeback in the fifth inning that brought the squad to just one run behind Fairfield, the Stags hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth to punctuate a game decided by the long ball.
But the Elis were undaunted and exploded into the second game with their own pair of two-run fence-clearing balls. Pitcher Holly Gutterud ’10, who has an ERA under 2.00, dominated through the rest of the game. She gave up just two runs — one in the fourth and one in the sixth — to lead the Bulldogs to a 5-2 victory.
“Our bats woke up in the second game and if we can get the lead, then we can maintain it,” Yale assistant coach Jay Stratton said.
Though the Stags jumped to an early lead in the first contest, the Elis swung the bat well yesterday afternoon, racking up 14 hits across both games. Speedy center fielder Ashley Sloan ’10 — who was recently named Ivy League Rookie of the Week — knocked in a run on a double and ran out a triple en route to a three-hit performance. Shortstop Aracelis Torres ’08 also amassed three RBI off a home run and single.
The Bulldogs will go into the first Ivy League weekend with two hitters batting at least .500 and a team ERA under 2.00. They will face two slumping squads in Cornell (18-7) and Princeton (9-16), which have lost three and nine consecutive games, respectively.
Torres said the team will prepare for this weekend as if it were any other.
“We’re not going to treat it any differently,” she said. “The only team that can lose the game is us.”
The Big Red had a decent spring — grabbing 18 wins in Florida and Virginia — but the squad dropped its last three contests by a combined 18-3. Their top hitters match Eli sluggers in batting average, but Big Red pitching has been subpar to this point. Cornell has gotten consistently strong performances from two throwers, with exceptions from the two other pitchers who have ERAs over 15.00.
The Tigers — reigning Ancient Eight champions for two years running — dropped 16 of 25 contests and carry mostly underclassmen. Their go-to pitcher Kristen Schaus has been an disappointment so far, throwing 3.83, and the squad’s hitting has suffered without a .400 hitter.
Though the Bulldogs’ upcoming opponents are not up to par, the upcoming conference games are still highly anticipated among the Elis.
“I’m excited for Ivy games, especially because the upperclassmen are so excited,” Gutterud said in the wake of a seven-inning, two-earned-run performance on the mound. “We’re doing so well and I really want to keep playing well for them.”
Going into conference play, the Bulldogs have a solid spring performance behind them and three wins in New Haven to preface this weekend’s home lineup. If the pitchers are able to keep the ball inside the park and the team pulls out an early lead, the squad will be very effective, Reinalda said.
The upcoming doubleheaders begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday at DeWitt Family Field.