With two wins against Dartmouth this weekend, the softball team is regaining momentum after what has been a disappointing season.
The win marked the second and third Ivy League victories for the team this season. Two home runs by captain Christy Nelson ’13 and a career-first homer by Tori Balta ’14 buoyed the Bulldogs (10–30, 3–13 Ivy) to sweep Dartmouth on Saturday, though they lost both games on Sunday.
“Based on our season so far, the split is a step in the right direction,” shortstop Meg Johnson ’12 said.
In the first game on Saturday, Yale and Dartmouth (12–21, 5–11 Ivy) were quiet offensively for the first four innings. Johnson singled in the second inning and, after stealing two bases, reached home off of an illegal pitch to bring the Bulldogs their first run of the game. The Big Green responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the second to secure a 2–1 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Balta stepped up to the plate with one on and one out. She hit the ball out of the park in her first home run wearing Yale blue. The two runs she drove in gave the Bulldogs a 3–2 victory.
Defensively, the Bulldogs excelled. Yale stopped Dartmouth with the bases loaded twice, ending the inning with three runners left on base. Pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 won her second game in a row and struck out four Big Green batters.
“The wins were definitely a team effort,” Nelson said. “We had great pitching mixed with flawless defense, and we got the key hits at the right time. Our defense made some great plays on Saturday with runners in scoring position, which gave us a huge momentum advantage.”
The Elis took another early lead in the second game. After Jennifer Ong ’13 and Balta singled, Johnson sealed the deal with a two-RBI double and soon reached home herself. Two more Bulldog runs — including a fifth-inning home run by Nelson — brought the score to 5–2, and a bottom-of-the-sixth rally by Dartmouth was not enough to secure the win. Yale took its second win of the day with a final score of 5–4.
Kristen Leung ’14 took the win for the Bulldogs, and Kylie Williamson ’15 gave Yale its first save of the season. On Saturday, the Elis outhit Dartmouth both games.
“We played hard and well for all 14 innings on Saturday,” Johnson said. “Our defense was making smart plays, pitchers were doing their job and as hitters, [and] we connected when we needed to.”
Sunday’s games were far less successful for the Bulldogs. In the first game, Dartmouth beat Yale 8–0 in six innings, keeping the Elis to two hits. The Big Green seized the advantage with four runs in the bottom of the first, and the Bulldogs could not recover.
Yale fared slightly better in the second game. Down 8–1 in the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs attempted a rally. Nelson brought in two runs with her second homer of the weekend. Johnson and Sarah Onorato ’15 continued the rally with a single each, and Williamson walked to load up the bases. Although Kelsey Warkentine ’13 brought Johnson home, the Bulldogs left two runners on base and ended the game 8–4.
The Big Green scored six of its runs in the bottom of the third. That inning, the Bulldogs had three errors, which contributed to three unearned runs. Additionally, three runs came on Dartmouth’s last out. If the Bulldogs had put a stop to the inning, they may have won the game.
“We have to keep building off our good at-bats and focus on small goals like we did on Saturday,” Johnson said. “We need to focus on one inning and one at bat at a time.”
Last year, the Bulldogs ended their season with a 17–25 record, winning eight of 20 games against Ivy League opponents. With only six games left in the season — two against Army on Wednesday and four against Brown this weekend — the Bulldogs cannot match either record.
However, significant wins can give the Elis an advantage in the Ivy League. Currently, Yale is tied with Brown for the worst record in the North Division of the Ivy League.
“We can take a lot from this past weekend and apply it to our last week of season,” Johnson said. “We know we have the talent to beat Army and Brown. We just need to have a solid game in every aspect. We’ll bring that intensity and hard work this week and keep striving for these remaining victories.”
The Bulldogs next face Army at home on Wednesday. Last year, Army swept Yale 12–0 and 6–1, but team members said the team is feeling confident going into Wednesday’s doubleheader.
“I’ve learned that our team is capable of so much and everyone is able to come out and perform,” left fielder Riley Hughes ’15 said. “I’m looking forward to coming out strong and getting some more wins.”
The first pitch is at 2:30 p.m.