After splitting a doubleheader against Sacred Heart on Wednesday, the Yale softball team will face Harvard this weekend in two back-to-back doubleheaders in Cambridge. The Crimson will not be an easy opponent, as Yale fell in all four games to its rival last season, the biggest loss being 11–3.
The Bulldogs (8–17, 2–8 Ivy) currently stand in last place of the North Division of the Ivy League, behind Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown. With 10 conference games left this season, however, the Elis have plenty of opportunities to ascend in the ranks.
“We are at a key point in our season,” said captain Sarah Onorato ’15, who is also a sports columnist for the News. “We play half of our total league games in the next 10 days, so a lot can happen.”
After losing all four games against Dartmouth last weekend and going 1–1 against Sacred Heart on Wednesday, the Bulldogs will have a tough fight against the Crimson (17–17, 8–4), which posted three victories against Brown last weekend. Currently, Harvard ranks second in the entire conference, whereas last-place Yale has only won two games, one against Penn and another against Dartmouth.
However, Yale gained some offensive momentum in its most recent win against Sacred Heart on Wednesday and will hopefully carry it into this weekend, according to Onorato. In their split of a doubleheader against Sacred Heart, the Bulldogs lost an extra-inning affair 8–3 in the first game, but took an early 2–0 lead in the second contest and never gave up the lead, ultimately winning 4–3.
“Heading into the Harvard weekend, we’re really focused on attacking pitchers early in the count,” outfielder Sydney Ginsberg ’18 said. “We’ve proven we’re more successful when we stay ahead of the pitchers.”
Yale has several key players who will threaten the Crimson. Pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18, who was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week earlier this season, has an impressive earned run average of 3.17, enough to lead Yale and rank eighth in the conference. In addition, Casalino is fourth in the league with 76 total strikeouts this season.
Right fielder Camille Weisenbach ’17 will also be crucial for Yale. With a batting average of 0.333, Weisenbach leads Yale in this category and is not far behind Harvard’s senior infielder Katherine Lantz, who leads the Crimson with a batting average of 0.378 and ranks eighth in the conference.
But Harvard also has its fair share of standout players. Named to the all-Ivy first team last season, senior pitcher Laura Ricciardone currently ranks fifth in the conference with an earned run average of 2.63, 0.54 lower than that of Casalino. Lantz and senior infielder Emily Gusse, each of whom has four home runs this year, will also be strong offensive threats to the Bulldogs.
“The team has worked incredibly hard to work out some kinks,” pitcher Lindsay Efflandt ’17 said. “We have been relentless in the midst of some tough situations, and I am confident that we will break it open. We must continue to focus on what we can control and never give up.”
Ginsberg said that one key will be getting the lead runner out and limiting baserunners to only one base.
Yale will play the Crimson at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The games will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network.