The Yale softball team failed to snap its losing streak in Philadelphia, as Penn swept the Bulldogs in two lopsided losses and a narrow defeat in a back-and-forth game.
The Quakers (11–5, 7–5 Ivy) came into the matchup having won four of their last five games and having put together their longest winning streak of the season. Yale (7–22, 4–8) was unable to snap out of a losing skid that has now stretched to five games since it closed out March with three consecutive victories.
“The weekend overall was a little frustrating because the team was not delivering in a timely manner,” first baseman Sydney Grobman ’21 said. “When our pitching and hitting are both on, we are unstoppable. This weekend did not showcase that, but we know what we are capable of if we work as a unit.”
Pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 made her 12th start of the season in the first half of Friday’s double-header and allowed nine hits and five earned runs in 3.1 innings on the mound before pitcher Miranda Papes ’21 came in in relief. Second baseman Sam Pederson jumpstarted Penn’s offense with a leadoff triple to right field to extend her hitting streak to 11 games. The next batter singled to bring her home to give Penn a quick 1-0 lead. But, Grobman, one of the Elis’ most impressive players of the weekend, responded by hitting her first of two home runs of the day to even the score.
From that point, however, the Quakers took over. Starting pitcher Mason Spichiger, after giving the longball to Grobman, buckled down and only allowed one unearned run for the rest of the game, lowering her ERA to 3.58, the eighth-best in the Ivy League. While she shut the door on the Eli offense, the Quakers ran up the score. In the bottom of the second, Pederson brought home Katie Petroski with her second hit of the game to break the tie.
At the bottom of the fourth inning, Penn center fielder Katie Petroski slammed a three-run homer to break the game open. Yale squandered its opportunities to slash the deficit, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning. The Quakers extended their lead to 7–1 in the sixth, and though Yale scored one run in the seventh, the first game of the series ended in a decisive Penn victory.
The second act of the twin bill was more of a pitching duel. Penn pitcher Jennifer Brann opened the game by posting five-straight goose eggs on the scoreboard. Pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18 held serve for the first three frames until Penn opened the scoring in the fourth when catcher Jurie Joyner doubled down the left-field line.
Once again, Grobman single-handedly evened the score for the Bulldogs, hitting another home run to even the score at one in the sixth inning. However, in the bottom of the sixth Penn’s shortstop Lucy Yang blasted a three-run bomb to put her team ahead 4–1. A Yale error made it a four-run inning for Penn and sealed the final score of game two at 5–1.
“We were very disappointed in how we played [on Friday],” Casalino said. “We are a much better team than what we showed, but we played very tight. Going into Saturday, we wanted to just go out there and have fun, to just hit the ball hard, not worrying about the result. I feel like we definitely did that in the beginning, but we couldn’t close the door and get it done on defense or answer back after they scored.”
Yale got off to a much better start in the final game on Saturday. The Bulldogs, having been held to just three runs in the previous two games, exploded for six runs in the top of the first inning. Every Eli reached base in the frame as six runners crossed the plate without the benefit of an extra-base hit.
Grobman continued her strong play and ultimately finished the game with three RBIs, the first of which came on a sacrifice fly that opened the scoring in the first inning. In 11 games against Ivy opponents this season, Grobman is batting .389 with three home runs and a .722 slugging percentage.
“I wanted to be productive for my team,” Grobman said. “I was seeing the ball really well this weekend and just focusing on just hitting the ball hard. The key for me is not trying to do too much, and I think I accomplished that.”
Though Penn scored just one run in the first inning, the Quakers took hold of the momentum after pitcher Ciana Curran entered the game in relief. Penn tallied eight times in the bottom of the second against Papes, and reliever Jerpbak highlighted by a bases-clearing triple from Pederson to make the score 6–4 immediately after the junior entered the game. The outburst marked the most the team has scored in an inning all season, while Curran threw three straight scoreless innings to stem the bleeding.
Jerpbak kept the Quakers off the board through the final four innings, giving Yale a chance for a comeback. The Elis closed within one in the sixth inning when the first two batters singled, and an intentional walk loaded the bases. Penn nearly escaped the jam after inducing a pop-out and a ground ball that saw the lead runner thrown out at home. However, Grobman once again came up clutch, hitting a two-out single that scored two runs to cut the deficit to 9–8.
Yale had an opportunity to tie the game in the seventh with Carlin Hagmaier ’19 on third with one out, but the Elis were unable to score and fell 9–8 to close out the weekend.
“We brought a lot of energy in the game on Saturday from the start,” left fielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 said. “Games that are centered around momentum are really fun to play in, [and] despite being down a couple runs, the constant hype from our team kept us in it and allowed for our late rally. We proved, too, that we have the ability to have big innings but are also able to rally when the game is on the line. We just need to carry our energy throughout games moving forward.”
The Bulldogs will take a break from conference play as they face off against Quinnipiac on Wednesday. The first pitch is slated for 3 p.m.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org