The Yale softball team arrived at Columbia’s Baker Athletics Complex this weekend looking to get above .500 in Ivy League play. After starting the new season with eight consecutive losses, the Bulldogs picked up some momentum with a Sunday win over Harvard and a midweek split with Army.
But the streak stalled out on Saturday, as the Elis (5–17, 2–4 Ivy) dropped the first two games of the series. However, for the second straight weekend, Yale rallied on Sunday to win the final game of an Ivy League series. The Bulldogs prevailed 8–6 on a two-run, ninth-inning home run to post a 1–2 weekend in the series.
“All we were really missing [Saturday] was a clutch hit in the situations with runners on base,” Francesca Casalino ’18 said. “Whether it was bases loaded no outs, second and third one out, and so many other opportunities, we just needed that one hit to bring the runs across the plate to break open the game and shut down Columbia’s momentum. [Sunday] though, we were really taking advantage of those situations and it was everyone in the lineup as well.”
After starting the season 2–14, Yale has now gone 3–3 in its last six games, which included the series finale against Harvard and the two midweek contests against Army.
Last weekend against Harvard, the Elis lost the Saturday doubleheader 5–3 and 10–4, before rallying to win the game on Sunday 7–0. Yale’s home win included a three-inning shutout from Miranda Papes ’21, who struck out five and issued just one walk. Offensively, Papes was equally as impressive, hitting 3–4 at the plate and scoring a run. Captain Allison Skinner ’18 and Sydney Grobman ’21 both added two hits as well in last Sunday’s win.
DeWitt Family Field also hosted a nonconference doubleheader with Army last Tuesday. Army claimed game one with a 3–1 score before Yale won game two 4–3. In the Yale victory, Casalino crushed a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Bulldogs the lead. The senior has been making her mark at DeWitt Field in her final campaign in New Haven, homering three times in Yale’s six home games so far this season.
Terra Jerpbak ’19 also impressed in the win, tossing a complete game while giving up just two earned runs.
Yale had its work cut out for it as the team headed into the clash against Columbia. The Lions sat atop the Ivy League, after sweeping Penn in Philadelphia last weekend. And the Lions’ run of form continued into Saturday, as the home team defeated the Bulldogs 8–2 and 4–1.
The Elis certainly had chances to hang with the league-leading Lions on Saturday, but could not convert. The Bulldogs left a combined 18 runners on base in the two games.
“We know [scoring runners on base has] been a challenge for our team last year, but we have addressed it and are working on our execution in that situation,” head coach Jen Goodwin said. “Our approach at the plate in game three versus Columbia shows that we are [capable], and we need to carry that confidence forward.”
Yale struck first in the opener on Saturday, with Skinner’s single scoring Casalino in the first inning. Nevertheless, the Lions came back, scoring once in the first and three times in the third to take control. Annie Tarte ’20 doubled in the seventh to score Phylicia Wilkov ’21, but it was not enough to overcome Columbia’s lead.
In game two, Yale once again scored first, with Carlin Hagmaier ’19 singling home Giovy Webb ’20 in the fourth. Jerpbak also kept Columbia’s high-flying offense at bay for five scoreless innings. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the team left bases loaded in both the first and fourth innings. This inability to convert on opportunities came back to haunt Yale, when Columbia exploded for four runs in the sixth inning.
Despite the disappointing outcomes, the Elis recorded a sound 20 hits over the two games, with Grobman and Tarte each hitting twice in both games, a sign of what was to come on Sunday.
Game three was an offensive exhibition, as the Bulldogs won it 8–6 in nine tough innings. Again, Yale struck first when Webb homered in the first inning. Two runs in the ninth, including a solo homer off the bat of Skinner, concluded what was an impressive show on both sides. Grobman also homered in the top of the fourth as Yale and Columbia combined for 23 hits on the day, with Hagmaier leading the way with three hits.
Casalino said Sunday’s win was a team effort, but noted that Grobman, Webb, Hagmaier and Skinner had especially prolific days at the plate.
“The whole team really won as a team,” Casalino said. “Everyone came up big with clutch hits when we needed it most and bared down in those late extra innings.”
As Yale’s bats have come alive, Yale will look to convert itsoffensive firepower into runs as it prepares for another Ivy series next weekend when the Bulldogs host Cornell Saturday and Sunday.
Bill Gallagher | email@example.com