While much of the student body enjoyed its spring break at various locales across the globe, the Yale softball team faced several different opponents on the West Coast before returning home to New England.
The Bulldogs went 3–8 on the trip with wins against Southern Utah, San Diego and Cal State Northridge. During the second week of break, Yale (5–15, 0–0 Ivy) went 1–3 in doubleheaders against Central Connecticut and Wagner, though the win came in exciting fashion on a walk-off against Wagner in the Bulldogs’ second home game of the season to complete a 4–11 spring break.
Despite losing eight of the games played in California, Yale showed its potential in outings such as its split doubleheader against a strong softball program in Northridge, which currently boasts an 18–14 record. During the action-packed week, two Elis, pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 and shortstop Brittany Labbadia ’16, earned spots on the Ivy League honor roll for their performances.
“I pitched significantly better in California than I did at our games before that which was good,” Jerpbak said. “I relaxed and just reminded myself that the team had my back.”
On the trip, Jerpbak claimed her first victory in the 6–2 win over Northridge while building on her initial performances in February. After posting an 8.08 ERA in just two appearances and 4.1 innings in February, Jerpbak has tossed 43.0 innings thus far in March to the tune of a 4.40 ERA.
To earn the win against Northridge, one of two over the break, she pitched a seven-inning complete game in which she gave up only two runs on five hits. Notably, Jerpbak aided her own cause early in the contest, scoring second baseman Laina Do ’17 with a first-inning double.
Labbadia’s moment to shine came in the same game. In the fourth inning, she extended the Bulldogs lead over the Matadors with a triple that plated captain and right fielder Allie Souza ’16. Labbadia then went on to score the final Yale run of the game on a double off the bat of third baseman Allison Skinner ’18.
“We have good chemistry and great talent this year and now it is a matter of fitting all the pieces together to reach our goals,” Souza said. “We know that we need to focus on keeping our energy up and executing our small-ball play.”
Yale’s win against Southern Utah, the first game of the break held at the Mizuno Classic in Riverside, California, showed just how difficult it can be to fit all the pieces together. The Elis built a three-run lead in the first two innings only to see it disappear in one fell swing of Megan Reed’s bat, as the Southern Utah first baseman drilled a three-run shot to even the score.
The score remained locked at 3–3 until the bottom of the sixth, at which point Do drove in the go-ahead run with her second hit of the day, a double to right. Madison Sack ’19 tacked on an insurance run with a single, earning her first collegiate RBI.
Later in the week, Yale faced off against San Diego. The Bulldogs managed to edge the Toreros 3–2, capitalizing on a costly San Diego miscue. Two of Yale’s three runs were the result of an error by San Diego pitcher Megan Sabbatini, which cost her what could have been a complete-game win.
The Elis lost both parts of a doubleheader to UC Riverside, the first 8–0 and the second 8–1. UC Riverside, 23–9–1 this season, managed to hold Yale to only one hit in the first game and its pitchers did not give up a single earned run on the day. In the nightcap, Yale had 11 players on base over the course of the game, but only one reached home — center fielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 in the first inning, who scored on an error after leading the game off with a bunt single.
In the two losses to UC Riverside and in subsequent losses to Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside and Northridge, Yale ran into a familiar problem: an inability to score with runners in scoring position.
“We play a game of inches and a game of failure, and the key is to learn from the failures to make the little adjustments it takes to tie things together,” Kennedy said.
Over the course of spring break, Yale left more than six runners on base on average in its 15 games.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs scored less than 2.5 runs per game during that same span.
“Our talent and ability to compete was evident throughout the trip and I think going deeper into the season we will make the adjustments necessary to play at the top of our game all the time,” Kennedy said, as the team prepares for conference play on Friday.
Earlier in the season, Souza identified runners left on base as a problem the team was looking to improve upon during season.
The trip to California was a chance for Yale to identify its weaknesses and strengths going into Ivy play.
“After being inside all winter, it was extremely helpful to be outside so we could get in as much playing time and at-bats for our team in preparation for a successful season,” Jerpbak said.
After returning from California, the Bulldogs played four games back east, including two at Central Connecticut State and two at home against Wagner. Yale lost the first three games, but closed out the break with a thrilling 1–0 win over Wagner.
In a pitcher’s duel, neither team could push a run across for seven innings, extending the game into extra innings. Jerpbak stayed in the circle and wound up going nine for her second complete game and the first shutout of her collegiate career.
Clinching the victory was another freshman, first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19. After Do and Jerpbak strung together a pair of one-out infield singles, Hagmaier smacked a liner into left-center to bring home Do and earn Yale its first victory of the season at Dewitt Family Field.
Yale will face Fairfield next in a doubleheader this Wednesday, before kicking off Ivy play at Columbia on Friday.