Over spring break, the Yale softball team escaped the bleak Connecticut weather to compete in a series of eight tournaments in Tampa and Clearwater, Fla.
The Bulldogs (3–7) defeated Florida A&M (5–25, 0–0 Mid-Eastern Athletic) 5–4 and Toledo (12–16, 0–0 Mid-American) 8–6 the next day in the Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament, while dropping six other games in Florida. Yale ended spring break with a 5–4 victory against Central Connecticut State (11–5, 0–0 Northeast) to split the double header.
“We headed into Florida with just a few scrimmages under our belt but no live games, as our Virginia trip was canceled due to snow,” pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18 said. “[But] we faced some tough opponents who already played a bunch of games.”
Indeed, Yale’s first two opponents — Maine and South Florida — were both well into their seasons. Maine (11–13, 0–0 America East) was playing its 17th game against the Bulldogs and the Bulls (28–10, 0–2 American) their 25th. In its season opener, Yale (3–7, 0–0 Ivy) lost to Maine 8–0 and was limited to two hits from captain and catcher and outfielder Sarah Onorato ’15 and catcher Camille Weisenbach ’17. The Black Bears, on the other hand, scored six runs in the third inning and two more in the sixth.
On the same day, the Bulldogs played South Florida and managed six hits, with infielder Hannah Brennan ’15 scoring a run in the fourth inning. However, Yale was not able to overpower the Bulls, and they fell to 6–1.
“A big note on our first chunk of games this season is that we were playing teams with many more games under their belt than us, so it was a challenging start to the season,” Brennan said. “We needed [the challenge] in order to find out what we needed to work on most going into the Ivy season.”
The Bulldogs clinched their first win this season against Florida A&M thanks to a single in the eighth inning from infielder Allison Skinner ’18 to score infielder Brittany Labbadia ’16. Yale jumped to a 4–0 head start with three runs in the first inning and one in the fourth, but the Rattlers caught up to a 4–4 tie with three runs in the sixth inning and one more in the seventh. In the final inning of play, Labbadia started on second base and scored on Skinner’s single, lifting Yale to its first victory.
In its next game against Northern Illinois (12–13, 0–0 Mid-American), Yale out-hit the Huskies 7–6 but was not able to score a single run, while the Huskies finished with two runs in the fourth inning to win 2–0.
An especially notable victory for the Bulldogs this spring break was their 5–4 win against CCSU, earning Yale a split of a doubleheader. In the first game, the Blue Devils clinched a 7–0 start, scoring four runs in the first inning and three in the second inning, ultimately defeating Yale 8–0. In the second game, however, the Elis started strong with three runs in the first inning and one more in the seventh, tying the Blue Devils 4–4. In the final inning, Yale emerged victorious with Skinner’s single, which scored infielder Laina Do ’17.
Another notable accomplishment for the team is Casalino’s being named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Over spring break, Casalino allowed only two earned runs out of the 23 innings she pitched and struck out 24. The pitcher earned her top performance against Florida A&M, when she did not allow any earned runs in 6.1 innings and struck out eight.
Casalino, along with several other freshmen, has proved to be valuable to the team over spring break, according to Weisenbach.
“Francesca earned rookie of the week with stellar pitching efforts, Skinner came up big offensively in clutch situations and Alexa [Caruso ’18] stepped in without missing a beat when Skinner had a shoulder injury,” Weisenbach said. “We have more depth throughout the lineup than ever before and the future looks bright.”
The Bulldogs will face Fairfield in a doubleheader at home this Wednesday. The first game begins at 2 p.m.