A Big Green sweep last weekend all but destroyed the softball team’s hopes of an Ivy League title.

Dartmouth (14-21, 10-6 Ivy) beat Yale (18-18, 3-13) in three close games and then shut the door on the series in an 8-0 victory — the second-worst defeat the Bulldogs have suffered this season.

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The Elis’ difficulty in getting runs home plagued them again in Hanover, N.H. The squad racked up 16 hits on the weekend but drove home only six runs, falling far short of the Big Green’s 19 runs on 28 hits.

Yale head coach Barbara Reinalda summed up the Elis’ problems simply.

“We didn’t hit the ball,” she said. “We’re struggling to figure out why.”

But the Bulldogs’ bats were not their only weakness, as the Elis’ usually dominant pitching staff fell victim to Dartmouth and conceded 13 earned runs over the course of the weekend.

In the series opener, the Elis led through the fourth inning, but Dartmouth hitters rocked pitcher Deanna DiBernardi ’09 to jump ahead 3-2 in the next frame. In the remaining innings, the Elis were unable to get runs home when they needed them, catcher Katie Edwards ’09 said.

The second game that day was even worse. Ace Rebecca Wojciak ’09 took the mound and pitched six innings, giving up only two unearned runs in the fourth that made the difference in the game. But the Big Green’s Stephanie Trudeau threw seven shut-out innings and confined the Bulldogs to just one hit on a double by left fielder Courtney Blachford ’09.

“We’ve been having trouble stringing hits together,” Blachford said. “But the sheer number of hits that we needed to get the game going was the problem.”

The following day, a trio of frosh pitchers was unable to stop a slew of Big Green hits in Game 1, despite a four-run sixth inning that put the Bulldogs within striking distance of the home team. Starter K.R. Ling ’10 got behind early, 1-0, only to then watch Kelly Fry knock a ball out of the park to score two.

Then the Elis were able to load the bases in the sixth for Edwards, who knocked her first career grand slam to close the gap to two runs. But the Bulldogs were shut down for the third time, 6-4.

“Going into that inning down 6-0, the mentality is that it’s kind of tough to come back,” Edwards said. “We were within reach [after the grand slam]. It’s a lot easier to think that you can get two runs than get six, and we were hopeful in the last inning. Someone got on base, and we had good at bats, we just couldn’t get them home.”

Unlike the series against Harvard, the Elis could not steal back the final game from the Big Green and were destroyed in a mercy-rule 8-0 game. Wojciak was on the mound for the second time in the shortened game, but she gave up a two-run homer before letting in six in the bottom of the third. Dartmouth made the diamond look like a merry-go-round as they knocked in six runs on six hits to seal the huge victory.

“Most of their runs were scored in one unfortunate inning,” Blachford said. “But we never gave up hope, we just ran out of time because of the short game.”

The Elis’ pitching took a turn for the worse this weekend and could not stop a Big Green squad that has a cumulative .241 batting average. Pitcher Holly Gutterud ’10, Ling and Wojciak’s ERAs all jumped almost a full point after the four-game series, and each is now throwing over 1.50.

Though the Bulldogs’ title run is effectively over — the squad is seventh in the Ancient Eight with just four games left to play — their final record still makes a difference, Reinalda said.

“If we lose too many to Brown, we finish last in our half of the Ivy League,” she said. “If we don’t, we finish third, and that’s a big difference to me.”

The Elis will frequent Rhode Island this week to take on non-conference opponent Providence College on Wednesday before heading into the final Ivy League games against Brown at home and in Providence next weekend.