This weekend marks an opportunity for the Yale softball team to make headway in its Ivy League season as the Bulldogs host two opponents whose conference records last year marked the dead center — fourth and fifth — of the Ancient Eight.
Yale (9–19, 2–2 Ivy) looks to do damage in more ways than one, as wins will likely come from silencing a middling Princeton (8–20, 1–3) lineup and flexing the Bulldogs’ offensive power against an underwhelming set of pitchers from Cornell (4–16, 1–3). The Elis, 2–2 in the Ivy League after going 5–14 in conference play last season, could surpass their 2015 league win total just two weeks into the conference season.
“We need to try to keep them in check offensively and our offense has really been top besides those Army games, so I am not worried that we’re going to be shut down by those pitchers,” pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18 said.
On Friday, the Bulldogs will take on the Tigers in a doubleheader that has the potential to feature a sibling matchup. Pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 has tossed more innings than any other member of Yale’s pitching staff this season with a total of 70.2 innings, and her sister, Skye Jerpbak, is a senior catcher and utility player for Princeton who is batting 0.364 in Ivy play.
Terra Jerpbak, who played on a team with her sister for a year in high school, will likely get a chance to pitch to Skye Jerpbak in a game for the first time ever.
“Ever since I started looking into Yale I knew that I would potentially play against my sister,” Terra Jerpbak said. “Now that the time has come we are both very excited for these games.”
Princeton will enter the weekend looking to recover from three Ivy League losses last weekend, two of which came against defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth (15–9, 4–0) and the other of which came against Harvard (12–13, 2–2). As is the case with Yale, all of the Tigers’ conference losses were heartbreakers decided either by one run or in extra innings.
Despite forcing extras against Dartmouth in its first game, Princeton ultimately fell 12–9 in 10 innings. The Tigers lost their second game against the Big Green 5–4, and, in a pitching showdown with Harvard, Princeton fell by a score of 1–0 despite strong pitching from starter Ashley La Guardia.
The Yale bats will likely have a crack at pitchers La Guardia, Shanna Christian and Claire Klausner, who have so far totaled 80.4 percent of innings for the Tigers. The team’s five pitchers have a collective earned run average of 4.15 overall — fifth in the Ivy League.
“At the plate it is always necessary to make adjustments from each at bat to be able to be successful,” outfielder Carlin Hagmaier ’19 said. “Going up to the plate with a plan in mind for hitting is also important.”
Offensively speaking, Princeton shares seventh place with Yale in the Ivy League batting average standings. Both teams hit for an average of 0.252 in the 28 games played thus far. Princeton does, however, have some power with 11 home runs on the season, while Yale is the only Ancient Eight team with zero round-trippers this season.
On Sunday, Yale will face off against Cornell, which shares the same 1–3 record with Princeton in Ivy League play. The Big Red split a doubleheader with Harvard and got swept by Dartmouth in a higher-scoring weekend of games than that of Princeton.
The offensive success for Cornell and its opponents was due to both powerful hitting and poor pitching for the Big Red. Cornell suffers from the worst earned run average, 9.14, in the Ivy League, and none of the Big Red’s five pitchers can claim an ERA below 8.00.
Although plagued with mound troubles, Cornell has a healthy batting lineup with depth. Four of the Big Red’s hitters, including pitcher Meg Parker, have averages north of 0.300 in their 20 games this season. Parker leads the team with an average of 0.371.
Cornell sits at a comfortable second place in the Ivy League in three key hitting categories: batting average, home runs and slugging percentage. It also holds third place in on-base percentage.
Yale’s pitchers, however, come off an array of strong outings to enter the weekend. Casalino gave up only two runs in a complete game loss to Army on Wednesday, and teammate Lindsay Efflandt ’17 has given up just two runs in her last 16 innings.
Yale’s first game against Princeton will start at 2 p.m. on Friday, and Sunday’s action against Cornell will begin at 12:30 p.m. The Yale–Princeton doubleheader was initially slated for Saturday, but forecasted rains pushed the game forward.