Although the Yale softball team started spring break with a chance to establish itself as a frontrunner in the Ivy League, numerous close games led the Elis to end the weekend with only a handful of wins after 18 contests.
The Bulldogs (5–17, 0–0 Ivy) finished with a disappointing record of 5–13, which included 11–3 and 18–2 blowout losses against Rutgers and Colgate, respectively. Yale also dropped six games decided by just a single run to Mount St. Mary’s, Butler, Jacksonville, South Florida, St. Joseph’s and Monmouth in the University of Florida Tournament. Despite the unfavorable outcomes, the young Yale team gained valuable experience with so many games over just two weeks.
“We learned a lot about what works for us and what we need to work on,” outfielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 said. “Regardless of the performances in individual games, the trip as a whole was a step in the right direction for us.”
One of the key issues in the Elis’ first string of games was their offense and, in particular, their inability to capitalize when runners are in scoring position. However, in the game against Florida A&M, catcher Madison Sack ’19 had three RBIs alone, and Yale ended the game with seven runs. The Bulldogs also did a much better job of studying the opponents’ pitchers and timing their swings better.
According to outfielder Sydney Ginsberg ’18, these improvements were noticeable and show that the team is ready for Ivy play next weekend.
“Those one-run or two-run losses are definitely disappointing, but I know that if we keep focusing on our game and our goals of winning each pitch at a time and each inning at a time, those close games will start to fall our way,” Ginsberg said.
For the most part, the Bulldogs also kept up the defensive intensity present in their early games. Pitcher Mary Baumann ’20 threw four solid innings and struck out three batters in the game against Florida A&M as she earned her first win of the year. In their final game against Rider, the Bulldogs gave up just two hits as a team in a 1–0 shoutout victory. Pitcher Lindsay Efflandt ’17 threw a complete game while allowing just four baserunners on her way to her second victory of the season.
“Right now we have all of the pieces needed to win, but we just haven’t been able to put them all together,” shortstop Laina Do ’17 said. “Once we work on different areas of our game, we will be able to win games more consistently.”
Despite recent poor results, the optimism on the team is stronger and its aspirations are higher than ever, and the team is not ruling out a good conference run.
While the Bulldogs admit that some of the losses are tough, according to Kennedy, they have not lost any faith in the coaching staff and the team’s mission. The coaches continue to prepare their players for these gritty battles by always keeping practice exciting and challenging at the same time.
“Each day we adopt a goal to focus on as a step towards our final goal, but we are working and playing with the intent of winning Ivies,” Kennedy said. “Our approach of getting there has changed a little bit though as we continue to learn what we do best.”
With the offense picking up and the pitching rotation and defense making solid plays, the Bulldogs may see these close games tip in their favor as the season progresses.
The Bulldogs finished third in the Ivy League North division last season with a 9–11 conference record.