The ball hit sophomore catcher Katie Edwards’ mitt as the batter was finishing her swing, ending Tuesday’s softball game on a strikeout for the second time in as many games.
Yale (17-9, 2-6 Ivy) struck out the final batter in both games against Sacred Heart (6-17) to record a doubleheader sweep of the Pioneers in the Elis’ final non-conference home matchup.
The Bulldogs only fanned 12 batters in two games, but when pitcher Holly Gutterud ’10 notched the first K on the second batter she faced, the tone was set. Aside from a couple of unearned runs in the second inning, Gutterud had control of the game.
“I pretty much go into each batter with the same mentality,” she said. “To hit the right spots. I really just rely on Eddie [Edwards] to call the game.”
Gutterud’s commanding performance held the Pioneers to two runs and got the Elis to a big fifth inning. Centerfielder Ashley Sloan ’10 — who eventually scored three times yesterday — led off with a well-placed bunt to begin a four-run frame. The Bulldogs played small ball to walk and bunt themselves around the bases and tie up the game, 2-2. Then, Gutterud’s one-RBI at bat pulled the squad into a lead it would not surrender. She popped the ball to left-center, but a duo of Pioneer outfielders ran into each other, allowing the Elis to score twice on the error.
After Yale pulled ahead 5-2 in the fifth inning, reliever K.R. Ling ’10 — who boasts a 0.29 ERA — stepped up to the mound in the top of the seventh to hold onto the lead. She got the save by collecting two quick outs and striking out the final batter.
Ling waited 20 minutes between games before getting the nod to start the second contest of the afternoon, based on her strong three-up, three-down performance. Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda said Ling got the start because she was pitching to her strengths and hitting the corners well.
With a perfect inning of work already under her belt, Ling struck out the first Pioneer she faced in the second game. She pitched four more scoreless innings before Kayla Kuretich ’09 relieved her in the fifth. Kuretich got into a jam in the sixth, giving up a run before throwing a perfect final inning. Then she got the first batter in the seventh to pop up prior to notching two strikeouts in the final at bats of the day.
Ling and Kuretich’s dominating performances and combined eight K’s sealed the win for Yale, but they were backed up by another good hitting outing.
As in the first game, the Bulldogs knocked in two of their three runs in the fifth inning. A double by first baseman Kyli Hanson ’09 got things rolling for the squad. Then an Edwards RBI and a pass ball — Sacred Heart’s fourth of the game — that scored Hanson pushed the Elis to a 3-0 lead before they won, 3-1.
In the second game, Yale committed no errors for the first time in four games; the team’s last perfect outing was the 3-1 victory over Penn last Saturday.
“Our defense is one of our strong points,” Reinalda said. “If we can hold them [by getting outs], we can eventually get our runners home.”
The Bulldogs, for a change, did not miss opportunities at the plate in two straight games. Last weekend, they had a problem maintaining offensive production in the doubleheader. Yesterday, though they left 14 players on base, most of their scoring chances were converted into runs.
Rightfielder Deanna DiBernardi ’09 said last weekend’s victories against Ivy League opponents helped the team win yesterday.
“I feel like we came out of last weekend with a lot of momentum,” she said. “We have total confidence in our freshmen, and we feel strong behind [the pitchers]. I think after today we feel ready to go into Harvard.”