Poor conditions at the Dewitt Family Field drove the Yale softball team into enemy territory on Wednesday for its doubleheader against Army, which was originally scheduled to be played in New Haven.
In the two games played on the banks of the Hudson, the Bulldogs (9–19, 2–2 Ivy) fell to the Black Knights (22–13, 4–1 Patriot) after a pair of lackluster offensive showings. Yale only managed two combined runs on the afternoon, dropping the first game by a score of 6–1 and the second by a 2–1 margin.
“These were difficult games but these are the days we get to challenge ourselves and find the things we need to correct before [the upcoming] Ivy weekends,” third baseman Allison Skinner ’18 said.
Yale ran into a nonconference Army program that has been strong in recent years. With the first victory on Wednesday, Army head coach Michelle DePolo celebrated her 200th win during her seven-year tenure with the Black Knights.
In that first game, the Bulldogs, playing as the home team despite being at West Point, played six relatively clean innings, though a five-run second frame for Army proved to be decisive.
Yale made two of its four errors in the inning and starting pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 could not pitch out of trouble. The freshman, who later doubled in Yale’s only run, allowed two long balls, which brought in all five runs. The first of the two home runs, a two-run shot, came off the bat of fellow pitcher Caroline Smith. The second belonged to third baseman and Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year Kasey McCravey, who currently boasts a batting average of 0.378.
Following Army’s offensive outburst, Smith tallied her third RBI of the game in the third inning, but ultimately did not need the insurance run as she dominated the Elis from the pitcher’s circle. Smith managed to silence Yale’s bats, holding them to one run on five hits. In the process, Yale shortstop Brittany Labbadia ’16 failed to get a hit, putting an end to her six-game hitting streak.
Following the third inning, Jerpbak handed the ball off to pitcher Lindsay Efflandt ’17, who finished the game without allowing any additional runs. Efflandt tossed four inning and walked none while only giving up two hits.
Yale’s offensive struggles — the Bulldogs did not register a hit in the final three innings — continued into the second contest of the day, as Army freshman hurler Renee Poirier no-hit the Bulldogs for the first 5.2 innings of the game.
“In the future we can work on being more disciplined with pitch selection so that the pitcher must throw good pitches over the plate instead of having us chase balls,” utility player Carlin Hagmaier ’19 said.
Despite the dominant pitching effort, Labbadia sparked the lineup with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, with Yale trailing just 1–0.
The shortstop, who leads the team in hits, reached first base on an infield single and proceeded to steal second, setting up Skinner to drive in the game-tying run.
“It’s always best to go up to the plate with a simple plan, not try to overthink things and hit the ball where it is pitched,” Labbadia said.
Yale had remained within striking distance due to the efforts of pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18, who rebounded from a first-inning run to post five consecutive zeroes. After Yale knotted the score at one in the bottom of the sixth, Casalino took the mound for the seventh and very nearly posted a sixth-straight scoreless frame.
Casalino retired the first two batters, setting up a showdown with McCravey. The third baseman stepped up once again for the Black Knights, smacking a double to center field. Mae Wadyka followed up with a second straight two-out double to score the game-winning run.
In the bottom half of the seventh, second baseman Laina Do ’17 shook off what had been an 0–5 day overall at the plate with a single to put the tying run on base. However, Yale could not push the equalizer across, as a fielder’s choice and ground out stymied the comeback effort.
Leaving the runner on base proved to be a troublesome theme of the day, as Yale stranded a combined 10 runners in the two losses while scoring just the two runs.
Despite a failure to drive in runners, Yale did demonstrate some promise on the basepaths with three stolen bases, two of which came from right fielder Sydney Glover ’17.
“Our speed as a whole gives us great positioning on the bases, which takes a lot of pressure off the batters,” said Glover, who scored Yale’s run in the 6–1 defeat.
The Elis will return to Ivy play this weekend, where they will attempt to improve their record and make some headway in the standings, in doubleheaders versus Princeton and Cornell at home.