A couple of close losses, a few strong pitching performances and 32 hits propelled the softball team to a four-game split on its first conference road trip of the season.

Yale (15-9, 2-6 Ivy) recorded two wins that sandwiched a duo of defeats at Penn (17-11, 9-3) and Columbia (15-7, 5-7) last weekend in the Elis’ last games against South Division opponents. Dazzling pitching and a surge in offensive production secured the Bulldogs’ victories, but defensive errors resulted in a pair of one-run losses.

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On Saturday, the Bulldogs pulled together all the elements of their game — the squad hit well in the clutch, and both starting and relief pitchers got outs against a seven-win Penn team.

A two-RBI game for third baseman Meredith Parks ’07 and a complete game one-earned-run outing by pitcher Rebecca Wojciak ’09 secured a 3-1 win in the opening contest against Penn. Wojciak fanned six Quakers, including two K’s against top hitter Annie Kinsey, who had only struck out three times so far this season.

“Rebecca’s been doing so well for us — she’s been holding teams to one or two runs,” utility player Allie Canulli ’10 said. “It was just the offense that needed to pick it up, but we got enough runs to beat them.”

Penn jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second inning of the second game. The Quakers broke down frosh pitchers Kayla Kuretich ’10 and Holly Gutterud ’10 in the early innings. But another rookie, K.R. Ling ’10, took the mound for four innings, conceding just two unearned runs off a pair of errors.

Then the Elis’ bats got a chance to shine as they chipped away at Penn’s lead with a game-long, six-run comeback — before stranding two on base in the seventh to fall, 7-6. Catcher Katie Edwards ’09 boosted her average to a team-high .453 with four RBI on a homer and a double. Sloan knocked in three hits, bringing her to second on the team for hits. Gutterud said the squad was not following through on their opportunities to score and left too many runners on base.

Easter Sunday saw a split as well, but this time the Elis dropped the opening contest and redeemed themselves in a five-inning, mercy-rule blowout against the Lions.

With ace Wojciak inside the circle again, the Bulldogs scored first and held a 1-0 lead through the third inning. But, as on Saturday, another set of Eli errors scored another two baserunners for Columbia. Wojciak held the Lions to two runs, but the Bulldogs failed to capitalize and eventually fell, 2-1.

But the Elis’ sleeping bats woke up in the second contest to lead Yale to a 9-0 victory. The Bulldogs peppered the field with seven hits and smashed three homers to destroy Columbia in the short game.

“Losing the first game was disappointing,” Gutterud said. “We went into the second game a lot less stressed and just tried to have fun.”

In yet another showing of the Bulldogs’ talented pitching staff, Deanna DiBernardi ’09 threw a complete game shutout, but the capable defense helped out as well. The Lions did not strike out once and put all their balls into play. Yale fielding was solid, and the squad committed just one error to hold up DiBernardi’s shutout.

The Elis’ split series leaves them with three Ancient Eight victories as the team heads back to New Haven, where it will take on Sacred Heart on Thursday at 3 p.m. and play a four-game series with rival Harvard next weekend.

“I think we’re kind of on an upward swing,” Sloan said. “I think we’ve been playing better, and offensively we’re coming around. We’re still not where we should be, but I think we have a good chance against Harvard.”