This weekend, the Yale softball team and its three seniors will close out their best season since before the soon-to-be graduates first matriculated.
The four-game set against Brown (16–21, 5–11 Ivy) will start with a doubleheader on Friday afternoon in Providence, Rhode Island, before the teams travel to New Haven to finish their seasons the following afternoon. On Saturday, the Bulldogs (16–29–1, 7–9) will celebrate Senior Day, honoring the three graduating players: captain and outfielder Allie Souza ’16, shortstop Brittany Labbadia ’16 and first baseman Lauren Delgadillo ’16.
“I am most happy with seeing how much the program has grown in the time that I have been here, and I am very excited to see the continued success of the team in the future,” Labbadia said. “The seniors and I are so thankful to be a part of this program and family and to have had this opportunity. Words cannot truly express the culmination of feelings that encompass Senior Day. ”
Brown, which has not had a winning Ivy season since 2004 and will fail to do so again this year, will look to keep the Bulldogs from climbing over 0.500 themselves — a feat Yale has not accomplished since 2009. The Bears enter this weekend coming off four consecutive losses to Harvard last weekend, including one game that was cut short at five innings because of the NCAA run rule. Up until those weekends, Brown and Yale were tied in the Ivy League North Division.
Brown’s one senior, second-year captain and shortstop Janet Leung, has the most runs scored of any Brown player and is one of six starting players batting over 0.300 overall.
Still, sophomore outfielder Yeram Park is Brown’s best hitter, as she tops her team’s statistical rankings in home runs, hits, slugging percentage and batting average. Park received an Ivy League Honor Roll mention for the week of April 26 after batting 0.500 over the course of five games.
Though the lineup’s success at the plate contributes to second-best overall batting average in the Ancient Eight, Brown has been less successful in conference play. The Bears rank fourth or below in all major hitting categories.
This pedestrian performance carries over to Brown’s pitching staff, which carries an in-conference earned run average of 3.57, fifth-best in the Ivy League. That Brown’s pitching is in the middle of the conference, and not further toward the bottom, is largely thanks to ace Katie Orona, who has strung together a noteworthy second season. She currently ranks fourth in the Ivy League with an in-conference ERA of 2.72.
The Bulldogs will try to make a dent in that number on Friday. For their part the seniors have some strong performances this season and throughout their careers. Most notably, Labbadia leads off the order with a team-leading batting average of 0.291 in conference play. Though eliminated from North Division contention for the program’s 10th straight year — as many seasons as the Ivy League’s division system has been in existence — Yale will enter Friday looking to cap off the seniors’ careers with some wins.
“I can’t wait to spend one last series with the seniors,” outfielder Sydney Glover ’17 said. “The three of them have been fantastic to play with all season, and it will be a difficult ending, but a good one.”
Other classes will help the seniors end the season how they would like to, with third baseman Allison Skinner ’18 and pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 maintaining positions as some of the best hitters on the team. Skinner hit two home runs last weekend against Dartmouth and has the most RBIs of any Bulldog, and Jerpbak, though slumping though April, has the second-highest batting average overall on the team, at 0.270.
For Yale, however, the most exciting performances of the season have come from the pitcher’s circle. Francesca Casalino ’18 is coming off a seven-strikeout shutout, her best game since February, and Yale’s staff also includes the second-best ERA in league play, the 1.42 mark of Lindsay Efflandt ’17, who spun a shutout victory against Dartmouth last Sunday. Jerpbak, who has an ERA of 4.19 on the season, will look to recover from her most recent start and honor the graduating seniors.
“Going into Brown we are excited,” Jerpbak said. “[We] want to end our season on a good note and give our seniors a great final weekend.”
The first game against Brown will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday’s home doubleheader for the Bulldogs will begin at 12:30 p.m.