The Elis have already played 20 games this season, but the road to the Ivy League championship begins this weekend.
A doubleheader at Columbia (6-13, 0-0 Ivy) on Saturday followed by a twin bill at Penn (8-9, 0-0) on Sunday will give the Bulldogs their first taste of Ancient Eight play.
“It’s a clean slate,” catcher Ryan Brenner ’12 said. “Wins and losses before this don’t this don’t matter. It’s all about the Ivy League.”
Although Yale has struggled at the plate — hitting just .226 this season — Brenner and infielder Chris Piwinski ’14 said the team is about to break out of its slump.
One Bulldog who has not been slumping is shortstop Cale Hanson ’14. He leads the team with a .385 average.
Piwinski said that having one player hitting well can spark his teammates.
“We’ve faced some adversity throughout the lineup,” Piwinski said. “[But] the biggest thing is that hitting is contagious.”
When the Elis take the field in New York and Philadelphia this weekend, they will be taking on some familiar faces. Unlike many of the teams that Yale faced in the non-conference portion of its schedule, the Bulldogs have been playing against these teams year-in and year-out. Even so, the Elis are still looking to gain an advantage over their opponents by scouting.
Second baseman David Toups ’15 said that the pitching staff has been looking at scouting reports on the opposing hitters, and Piwinski added that Yale’s coaching staff has been gathering information on the opposition’s tendencies.
Brenner and Piwinski added that since Columbia’s starting lineup is laden with left-handed hitters, the Elis will most likely send southpaws to the mound in both games Saturday.
Yale’s final tune-up game before Ivy play starts was cancelled due to rain at Quinnipiac University on Wednesday. The lack of a weekday game should not make the Elis rusty, however.
“It’s not really going to affect us,” Toups said. “We’ve got practice [Thursday] and Friday.”
Practice will prove vital in Ancient Eight play, as Brenner said that the talent level is comparable throughout the league. Toups added that teams will need to play with a sense of urgency and a high level of concentration to come out on top.
Solid pitching will be key to a successful Ivy League season as well, and Piwinski said he is confident in the Elis’ hurlers.
“Our pitching staff looks pretty amazing right now,” Piwinski said. “This is going to be the weekend where we really turn it on.”
The Elis begin their twin bill against the Lions at 1:00 p.m. at Robertson Field in New York City.