Plagued by weak hitting and frequent errors, the softball team took another pair of losses Wednesday against the University of Rhode Island (13–16).
Since returning from the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. during spring break, Yale has only won four out of 16 games. Yale fell to the Rams, 5–3, in the first game and 7–0 in the second. Although the team gets on base, the Elis (7–17, 1–3 Ivy) have suffered from an inability to gain the upper hand early on.
“Our approach to the game was to just get our bats going and not put too much pressure on ourselves,” captain Christy Nelson ’13 said. “We haven’t been able to really get the momentum going.”
Outside of Florida, where the team went 3–5, the Bulldogs have only won games in which they scored in the second, third or fourth innings. Team members say the team’s drive never to give up is a sign of character, but they added that they are hoping to score more runs early on. Thirty of the team’s 44 runs have come from the fifth inning or later, and the Bulldogs have scored three times as many runs in the eighth inning as they have in the third.
“We need to go into the game with a positive, strong attitude and be aggressive at the plate early on,” Balta said. “Then you set the tone. If the tone is high at the beginning of the game, it will carry over for the rest of the game.”
Still, the team shows improvement over last year. On Apr. 6, 2011, the Bulldogs were 1–13 outside of Florida. Yet last year against Rhode Island, the Elis swept in a tight doubleheader. Yale won the first game 4–3 in eight innings and took the second 12–11 victory with two doubles in the bottom of the seventh.
In Wednesday’s opening game, the Bulldogs came out strong against the Rams. Nelson singled to center field and teammate Sarah Onorato ’15 answered with an RBI double, but the Bulldogs did not score for the next five innings. While they had many scoring opportunities — including in the second inning when the bases were loaded with only one out — they could not bring any runners home.
The Rams built up their lead and left the Elis down 5–1 in the top of the seventh. Meg Johnson ’12 started a rally with a single, and Jen Ong ’13 responded with one of her own. Singles by Nelson and Kylie Williamson ’15 brought the score to 5–3 with runners on second and third. But the comeback fell short, the inning ended, and the Bulldogs took their first loss of the day.
“It was good to see our team come back in the last inning of the first game and put pressure on the other team,” Nelson said. “We just made our adjustments at the plate a little too late.”
Chelsey Dunham ’14 (5–7) pitched all six innings and struck out three batters. She took her second loss in a row.
While the Bulldogs outhit the rams 11–9, they could not convert hits to runs. Ong said the team looked strong at bat, but Nelson added that the team often scores only one run an inning and has struggled with multiple-run rallies.
“We need to be tougher when we are hitting with runners in scoring position and have a little more edge and determination to get those RBIs,” she said.
In the second game, the team fell apart, center fielder Tori Balta ’14 said. In its sixth shutout of the season, Yale was held scoreless and got only one hit for all seven innings.
Over the course of the game, the Bulldogs had four errors, which resulted in four of the Rams’ seven runs. Team members said the Elis lacked concentration on the field.
“As a team, you can’t let previous losses carry over to the next game,” Balta said. “We have to make sure past errors and past mistakes don’t snowball on top of each other.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs will take on two Ivy League teams at home. They face Princeton on Friday and Cornell on Saturday.
“We are just going to stay positive going into the weekend knowing we still have 16 more league games ahead of us,” Nelson said.
The first pitch against Princeton is set for 2 p.m.