After finishing its season opener at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. on March 16, the softball team (4–6, 0–0 Ivy) headed back to New Haven to take on Central Connecticut at home on March 15. The Bulldogs split Thursday’s double-header, losing the first game 4–0 but coming back for a 10–8 win in the second.
Though the Elis outhit the Blue Devils in the first game, they were unable to translate their six hits into runs. Head coach Barbara Reinalda said the team made many “mental mistakes,” contributing to eight Bulldogs left on base and lost scoring opportunities. A rally early in the sixth inning, including a double by captain Christy Nelson ’13 and a single by Sarah Onorato ’15, left runners on second and third at the inning’s conclusion.
Central Connecticut, on the other hand, took advantage of three hits and an error to score four runs in the first three innings. Pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 (3–2), who pitched the complete game, faced her second loss of the season, bringing her ERA to 1.94 in 36 innings of work.
In the following game, the Bulldogs found themselves down 7–2 in the bottom of the fifth. Starting with a single by Virginia Waldrop ’12, who had two RBIs in the second, the Bulldogs turned the inning into a rout. By the end of the frame, the Blue Devils’ starter Jordan Tingley had been replaced, Tori Balta ’14 had doubled to bring Waldrop across the plate a second time and the Bulldogs had gained eight runs.
“Before we knew it, we had batted around,” Onorato said. “We turned the game around and turned the momentum in our favor.”
Central Connecticut outhit the Elis, 17–7, but a last-minute run in the seventh, bringing the score to 10–8, was not enough to overcome the Bulldogs’ rally. Pitcher Kristen Leung ’15 (1–1) took the win.
“This is not a ‘We’re just here to have fun’ team,” Reinalda said. “They want to win. They are very competitive.”
While in Florida, the Bulldogs beat Lehigh in another late rally. Meg Johnson ’12 started the inning with a single, stealing second later on. After a single by Jennifer Ong ’13 and an error, Johnson crossed the plate to bring the Elis to a 4–3 victory.
Though they ultimately lost to Holy Cross 7–6, the Bulldogs again did not give up until the end. The two runs they scored in the bottom of the seventh, however, were not enough to secure a win.
“This is not a team that rolls over and dies,” Reinalda said.
Nelson cited strong contributions by freshman team members in their first collegiate softball games. Nelson said pitcher Kylie Williamson ’15 stayed very “composed on the mound.”
“The team this year has a different vibe,” Dunham said. “We all have confidence we can do well, win games and do it together.”
The freshmen said they were thrilled to get out and play some games after a month of 6 a.m. practices.
“It’s good to get out on the field and be outside,” Onorato said. “We could see how what we’ve been working on all winter has been working out for us.”
The team will next play Marist at home in a doubleheader on Wednesday. The Red Foxes swept the Elis two years ago, though last year’s match was cancelled due to rain.