The Yale softball team needed a series victory this weekend to stay in the Ivy League North Division hunt, and it earned one, winning three of four games against division-leading Dartmouth.
Going into the weekend, the Elis (15–26, 8–8 Ivy) trailed the Big Green (11–24–1, 10–6) by four games after Dartmouth exploded for an eight-game winning streak, sweeping Brown, Princeton and Cornell. In the first game of the four that Yale and Dartmouth contested this weekend, the Big Green pushed their streak to nine, besting the Bulldogs 6–3. Afterward, Yale kicked its performance into another gear, taking three consecutive victories to close the weekend with scores of 10–2, 3–2 and 6–3, respectively. Now just two games behind in the division and with a concluding series against last-place Brown coming up, the Elis have a slim but real chance to take the North Division title.
“We are super excited to have won three of four from a hot Dartmouth team,” pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18 said. “Everything truly came together with our pitching, hitting and fielding. Therefore, we are super excited about having a chance at winning the North heading into next weekend. Almost every person stepped up in a huge way for us this weekend, so we have confidence in each and every person on our team.”
Game 1: Dartmouth 6–3 Yale
Yale did not have an ideal performance in the opening matchup. After a scoreless first inning, both teams traded runs in the second to keep the game level. However, Dartmouth’s Maddie Damore launched a two-run blast in the top of the third — the second home run in as many innings — to take a 3–1 lead, and Calista Almer recorded two RBIs on a fourth-inning single to stretch the margin to 5–1.
Yale’s pitching, which has been its strongest component throughout the 2017 campaign, was uncharacteristically unsteady during the opening game, as Casalino handed the ball off to Lindsay Efflandt ’17 after Almer’s single; Casalino remained in the batting order as the designated player. A home run from outfielder Rachel Paris ’17 in the bottom of the sixth gave the Bulldogs a bit of life, but the team was unable to make anything of it and fell, 6–3.
Game 2: Yale 10–2 Dartmouth
The Eli bats found new life in the second game of the day, putting runs on the board in each inning of the mercy-rule shortened game. Yale got two runs in the bottom of the first thanks to some shaky pitching from Dartmouth’s Morgan Ebow. After a single from outfielder Shelby Kennedy ’19, Ebow plunked third baseman Allison Skinner ’18 and Casalino to load the bases. After Ebow recovered to strike out catcher Madison Sack ’19, she hit Paris to score one run, then threw a wild pitch to score another. Though Ebow managed to limit the damage to two runs in that inning, Yale piled on more throughout the game while pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 shut down the Big Green offense, triggering the mercy rule with an eight-run lead in the bottom of the fifth.
“It always feels great to pitch two complete games in a weekend and get wins in both,” Jerpbak said. “Dartmouth is a very aggressive team in the box, and so it is important to keep them off balance, which we did a good job of this weekend. I felt good and confident in my pitches this weekend, and we got the result we wanted.”
Game 3: Yale 3–2 Dartmouth
Yale snatched a 3–2 victory in the third game, the closest of the weekend series, thanks to a clutch at-bat from Sack. Dartmouth opened the scoring on Sunday afternoon with a run in the third inning, but the game remained tight. In the bottom of the sixth, Sack approached the plate with two runners on base and two outs, still trailing the Big Green by one. Sack blasted a home run to score Casalino and second baseman Laina Do ’17, giving Yale the 3–1 lead.
“[Dartmouth’s Breanna] Ethridge was throwing a shutout, almost a no-hitter, so it was really exciting that the only hit of the game won it all,” Sack said. “It completely changed the momentum of the game, so I’m glad that we were able to take that energy and continue it all the way throughout the second game.”
In the top of the seventh, Dartmouth got a run back and managed to load the bases with two outs, but Yale turned to Jerpbak to record the final out, which she did to preserve the 3–2 win.
Game 4: Yale 6–3 Dartmouth
Yale closed the weekend with a solid 6–3 win to clinch a series victory. The Bulldogs grabbed a run in the bottom of the first off a wild pitch from Ethridge — who pitched three complete games in the series — but the game remained tight as the Big Green scored one of their own in the third. In the top of the fifth, it seemed the Big Green was on its way to a split series, scoring two runs off a triple from center fielder Lourlin Lara. But in the bottom of the frame, Yale struck back with a vengeance, scoring five runs with a grand slam from Do to boot. The grand slam marked the senior’s first home run in a Yale uniform and brought home Kennedy, shortstop Annie Tarte ’20 and Jerpbak. A 6–3 advantage in hand, the Elis held on for two more innings to take their third game of the weekend.
Yale has four games left in its 2017 regular season. The Bulldogs will play Brown twice at home this Saturday then twice on Sunday in Providence.