Before the Yale softball team could turn its full attention to a four-game set with the Brown Bears this weekend, the Bulldogs were tasked with the Black Bears of Maine on Wednesday.
The Elis (16–29–1, 7–9 Ivy) split a doubleheader versus Maine (20–18, 7–4 America East) to wrap up their final contests of the nonconference season. Yale dropped the first game of the afternoon despite yet another stellar pitching performance from Lindsay Efflandt ’17, and a complete-game shutout in the second game from Francesca Casalino ’18 propelled the Bulldogs to victory.
“As our last midweek home games, we felt great finishing with a win,” center fielder Sydney Glover ’17 said. “The midweek games are a great way to polish our skills and work on the tough plays before an Ivy weekend. We had some phenomenal plays today that showed us we can get out of tough situations without letting runners advance.”
Yale, which lost to Maine 8–0 a year ago, took the loss in the early game on Wednesday by a score of 4–2. Maine’s offense immediately loaded the bases in the first inning with its first three batters, but Yale starter Terra Jerpbak ’19 limited the damage to just a single run.
The Bulldogs went down in order in the bottom of the first and Maine got back on the scoreboard in the second despite Jerpbak getting the first two batters out. The Black Bears rallied to produce three runs on three doubles and a walk. After Jerpbak allowed the third double, head coach Jen Goodwin elected to bring in Efflandt, with Jerpbak finishing with 1.2 innings and four runs allowed on six hits.
Efflandt, who has now put together a superb 1.47 ERA in 16 April appearances, closed out the game for the Bulldogs. The junior tossed 5.1 innings of scoreless relief during which she allowed only three baserunners.
After Efflandt set the Black Bears down in order in the top of the third, first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19 tripled to lead off the bottom half of the frame. Captain and left fielder Allie Souza ’16 batted her in, and Souza then proceeded to score on a Jerpbak fielder’s choice later in the inning, cutting the deficit to two runs.
“I was just seeing the ball well in the at-bats,” said Hagmaier, who had two hits on the day.
Although Yale matched Maine’s eight hits, the Elis failed to push any more runs across, unable to take advantage of Efflandt’s dominant relief outing and some crafty defense late in the game. The Maine offense was threatening in the sixth, with runners on first and third, but a 2–4–2 exchange between Yale catcher Madison Sack ’19 and second baseman Laina Do ’17 on a double steal resulted in the third out of the inning at the plate.
In the second game of the day, the Bulldogs outplayed Maine in all facets of the game. In a 3–0 shutout, Casalino put together a dominant performance on the mound. Her four-hit, seven-strikeout performance represented a return to top form for the righty, who had been limited to just 8.2 innings over the previous nine games in part due to forearm tendinitis.
In her best game since a two-hit shutout against Morgan State on Feb. 28, Casalino showed off the stuff that made her the most effective Yale pitcher a season ago.
“Everything seemed to be working today allowing me to really keep Maine’s hitters off-balance,” Casalino said. “Moving inside to out-and-up to an off-speed pitch was the key to my success.”
With Maine pitcher Molly Flowers consistently missing below the strike zone, Yale’s first two batters of the game, shortstop Brittany Labbadia ’16 and Glover, drew walks to lead off. The following two batters were each retired but a hit-by-pitch, bases-loaded walk and two-run single from Do gave Casalino all the run support she would need.
Outside of the three-run first inning, Yale tallied five other hits but the Elis failed to successfully bring any of those baserunners home. Meanwhile, Casalino skirted around eight baserunners to preserve her second shutout of the season.
The Bulldogs will play their final four games of the season against Brown, first playing two in Providence, Rhode Island on Friday before closing out with two at home on Saturday.