In its return to Ivy League competition this weekend, the Yale softball team narrowly missed getting swept in its two doubleheaders, salvaging the four games with a walk-off victory in game one thanks to a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh that scored two runs.
The Elis (5–12, 2–4 Ivy) welcomed Penn (13–13, 4–4) Saturday afternoon, pulling off an incredible 2–1 win in the first game only to be followed by a heavy scoring onslaught from the Quakers in the second game of the doubleheader. Yale returned to the field on Easter Sunday to take on Columbia (8–16, 5–3), falling in a shutout in the first contest and a comeback rally from the Lions in the second.
“This weekend, the team battled and never gave up,” pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18. “We always gave ourselves the chance to be in the games and the opportunity to win. Going forward, we just need to find those ways to win and bring the runners across the plate.”
Penn scored early in Saturday’s opener, hitting a home run with two outs in the top of the first inning that would keep the Quakers ahead until the bottom of the seventh.
Despite the lack of players crossing the plate, the Bulldogs consistently had runners on base but were unable to bring them around. The first inning saw runners left on both first and second base after a fly out to right field by third baseman Allison Skinner ’18.
Yet Casalino kept fighting off the Quakers, and Penn finished its final at-bat in the top of the seventh without another run, leaving the score 1–0. A strikeout by pinch-hitter Lauren Delgadillo ’16 was followed by a walk from pinch-hitter Rachel Paris ’17. A single from center fielder Sydney Glover ’17 advanced Paris to second before she was replaced with pinch-runner Alexa Caruso ’18.
Then, calamity struck for the Quakers. Both Caruso and Glover moved up to scoring position on a passed ball, meaning the game-tying run was just 60 feet away — a fact that would prove crucial in the next at-bat.
After an apparent strikeout from shortstop Brittany Labbadia ’16, Quaker catcher Corinne Raby could not hold on to the ball. Caruso scampered home to tie the game. Raby tried to recover and throw Labbadia out as she rounded first and turned toward second, but the throw gave Glover the opportunity to break from third and slide across the plate for the 2–1 win.
“Everything escalated so quickly in the last few minutes,” pitcher Rhydian Glass ’16 said. “This wave of shared excitement came over all of us at once [when] as a team we rushed Sydney at the plate. [She] did an outstanding job of reading the situation and absolutely used her speed and quick thinking.”
With six strikeouts and only four hits scattered across seven innings, the game marked an excellent win for Casalino as well, who picked up her fourth victory of the season.
The second contest, though, was less successful. Although the first two innings were scoreless on both sides, Penn began to pull ahead in the third, scoring three runs, two of which came from a triple with two outs already in the inning.
The Quakers continued to build momentum in the fourth and fifth with another eight runs for Penn, ending the top of the inning with a 11–0 Quaker lead.
Even with an amazing seven-run inning in the bottom of the fifth that included a three-RBI home run for Paris, Yale could not manage to come back for the win, ending the doubleheader on Saturday with a 12–7 Eli defeat.
“It was a thrill to beat Penn,” right fielder Camille Weisenbach ’17 said. “[But] we are going to learn from our losses to become more comfortable in pressure situations so that facing Dartmouth next weekend will hopefully end in a set of ‘W’s.”
However, the Bulldogs’ Sunday afternoon doubleheader against Columbia was equally disappointing for Yale. In spite of another great performance by Casalino in which she struck out eight Lions, pitched three hitless innings and only allowed one earned run, Yale had trouble advancing its runners, as the Blue and White were 0–7 with runners in scoring position.
The Elis were shut out in the first matchup 4–0. The team had a bit more success in the second game, establishing an early 2–0 lead helped by a triple from Weisenbach. But it was a five-run rally from Columbia in the sixth inning that sealed the game. Though the Bulldogs earned a few more runs in the bottom half of the frame, they could not mount a comeback to take down the leaders of the Ivy League South Division, ultimately losing 8–4.
“We had two very tough losses, even though Francesca pitched fantastically,” Glass said. “What we got out of [yesterday] is that on the field, we need to expect every pitch and be aggressive from the very first pitch of the first inning. Every inning, we need to play like it’s a tie ballgame.”
The Bulldogs will travel to face Hartford on Wednesday afternoon. The first pitch is at 3 p.m.