The Yale softball team started its Ivy League season on an average note, going 2–2 over the first four games as it defeated Cornell before being swept by Princeton.
The Bulldogs (7–19, 2–2 Ivy) handled Cornell (6–9, 1–3) by scores of 5–4 and then 7–1 in their doubleheader on Saturday, but then fell to Princeton (11–11, 4–0) by scores of 9–1 and 2–0 on the road. Although Yale sits atop the Ivy North division after the first weekend, both Princeton and Columbia remain undefeated in conference play in the South.
The Elis needed 11 innings to beat the Big Red in the first matchup, but the offense was clicking consistently throughout the game. Yale finished with an impressive 15 hits, including three from second baseman Laina Do ’17 and three RBIs from catcher Madison Sack ’19. Third baseman Allison Skinner ’18 gave the Bulldogs the victory after her bunt single in the 11th inning brought Do in from third base.
“Going into that 11th inning, we knew that we needed to push a run across because Lindsay [Efflandt ’17] was pitching an incredible game,” Do said. “Skinner is a very good hitter, but she is also an amazing bunter. When I was standing on third and our coach gave us the squeeze sign, I knew I was going to score.”
However, the turning point came when Sack delivered in the top of the fourth inning as she homered to left center, bringing in Skinner. The Bulldogs trailed 4–2 before the crushing hit, which proved to be a huge momentum builder for the team.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bulldogs kept up the pressure on offense and scored six runs in the sixth inning to take a 7–0 lead. Skinner opened the game up for Yale as she hit a pivotal grand slam to left field in the early goings of the sixth. The Bulldogs remained aggressive while also staying patient at the plate: Their nine BBs allowed runners to get into scoring position and caused a lot of problems for Cornell pitcher Maddie Orcutt and the Big Red defense.
Despite the Elis’ obvious success at the plate, it was the outstanding pitching from Francesca Casalino ’18 in the second game that propelled the Bulldogs to victory. Casalino threw a complete seven inning game and gave up just six hits and one earned run. Even more impressive, Casalino did not surrender a single walk to the Big Red batters and struck out six of them on her way to her second victory of the season.
“Fran’s performance was key for the second game,” outfielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 said. “After coming off of a close extra inning game it was important to go into the second game with a lot of energy, and Fran’s performance was really inspiring — it gave us something to feed off of.”
Yale was not able to replicate the same success against Princeton as it found against Cornell. Yale started the first game off strong in the opening inning as Casalino blasted the first home run of her career down the left field line. However, the Tigers answered right back with four of their own runs in the first inning. Princeton third baseman Alex Viscusi put the game out of reach in the third inning as she belted a three-run bomber to left field, giving the Tigers an 8–1 lead. They added one more run in the fourth inning to solidify the win.
While Yale gave up just two runs against an explosive Princeton offense in the tail-end of the doubleheader, it could not muster up much offensive burst for itself. Skinner and catcher Cristina Teems ’19 provided the only hits for the Elis in their fifth shutout loss of the season. No Bulldog made it past second base the entire game, while Princeton was able to capitalize on many opportunities with runners in scoring position. Yale held the Tigers scoreless until the fourth inning, when Keeley Walsh hit a double to score the Princeton pitch runner on second base.
“We weren’t making the adjustments as quickly as we needed to which was apparent in our performance at the plate,” Kennedy said.
The Bulldogs might have met expectations in their first Ivy weekend, but the schedule ahead is nothing short of formidable. In the next week, the Elis’ opponents include a Columbia team that started off 4–0 in Ivy League play as well as an improving Quinnipiac squad on April 12.
Yale’s next game is Friday at 2 p.m. at Dewitt Family Field against Penn.