After snapping a five-game losing streak with possibly its most impressive win of the season on Wednesday, the Yale softball team suffered another sweep at the hands of an Ivy League opponent this weekend. At home for the first time in a fortnight, the Bulldogs were shut out 5–0 on Friday, before losing two close games in Saturday’s double-header.
The Elis (8–25, 4–11 Ivy) have now lost seven consecutive games against conference opponents, having now been swept in consecutive series by Penn (12–18, 7–8) and Princeton (8–21, 6–6). The Bulldogs, who scored eight unanswered runs on Wednesday against Quinnipiac (17–21, 6–3 MAAC), were limited to just three runs in three games against the Tigers. Princeton, meanwhile, entered the matchup having lost six of its last seven games and recorded its first Ivy sweep of the season at the hands of the Elis.
“Overall, I definitely feel like this is one of the weekends we’ve gelled the most as a team, and it’s unfortunate that the scores didn’t reflect how much hard work we put out on the field,” center fielder Giovy Webb ’20 said. “We know we need to come out stronger next weekend against Brown … to get some wins for our loved ones on Alumni and Senior day.”
The Tigers had an ideal start in the first game of the series, with Mackenzie Meyer hitting a two-run home run at the top of the first inning. Yale was unable to respond as Princeton pitcher Allie Reynolds limited chances for the Bulldogs, ultimately finishing the game having thrown a complete-game six-hitter, striking out two Bulldogs and allowing just one walk.
After getting three hits across the first two innings, the Elis went hitless in the third and fourth, while Princeton added another run to increase its lead to 3–0. Yale had its best scoring chance in the sixth inning, when catcher Madison Sack ’19 and left fielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 singled, and first baseman Sydney Grobman ’21 walked to load the bases with two outs. Right fielder Carlin Hagmaier ’19, who has the third-best slugging percentage on the team at .463, hit a hard shot towards the right field line. But, Princeton first baseman Kaylee Grant made a diving stop to grab it and managed to touch first just ahead of Hagmaier.
The Tigers put an exclamation point on their victory by adding two more runs in the seventh inning, and Reynolds allowed just one hit in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the Princeton shutout, the team’s third of the season.
“Going into Saturday’s games, our main focus was to hit well early in the game,” pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 said. “Princeton had good pitching on Friday, and we knew we would see the same pitcher Saturday. Our goal was to make adjustments with [Reynolds] and score some runs early in the game. We also wanted to keep our energy up on the field and in the dugout.”
The first of Saturday’s two games was a pitcher’s duel that pitted Reynolds against Jerpbak, who both threw all 11-required innings. Yale struck first this time, scoring in the third inning with two outs. After Kennedy and second baseman Annie Tarte ’20 singled, the senior scored a run to make it 1–0 when Grobman singled to center field.
However, the Tigers were quick to respond, scoring a run at the top of the fourth inning to tie the game. Jerpbak, who had allowed just one hit in the first three innings, allowed Meyer to hit her second home run of the weekend to left center field.
From there, both pitchers took back control of the game, which remained scoreless through seven innings and required four more innings of play. The Bulldogs had multiple scoring chances, leaving two runners on base in the seventh, eighth and 11th innings. However, after the Elis were unable to score on any of these opportunities, Princeton ultimately scored the winning run after pinch hitter Gianna Mavica singled to center field to score Kylee Pierce at the top of the 11th inning, setting the final score line at 2–1. Jerpbak finished the game with seven strikeouts.
“We went into Saturday with the idea that we had a clean slate,” Webb said. “[Jerpbak] pitched an absolute gem, and her performance really inspired us to leave it all on the field. That first game was really just a well-played match. We were solid defensively and offensively we were hitting the ball really hard, [but] it just wasn’t finding any holes and unfortunately it didn’t go our way in the end.”
The Bulldogs once again were left trying to play catch up in the final game of the series, trailing 4–0 entering the seventh inning. The Tigers took a 2–0 lead in the second inning on a hit batter, two errors, a walk and a wild pitch. Yale’s deficit was increased to 4–0 in the fifth, with Megan Donahey getting on base off of a bunt and advancing to second on an Eli error. Yet another error allowed her to score two plays later. Joey Smith rounded out the inning by bringing home the Tigers’ first earned run of the game. Three of Princeton’s four runs in the finale were unearned to pitcher Miranda Papes ’21 as the Bulldogs committed six errors in the game.
The Bulldogs were on their final out of the game before pinch hitter Phylicia Wilkov ’21 started a Yale rally with a single. Shortstop Lindsay Kuss ’20 was then hit by a pitch and Kennedy drew a walk, setting the Elis up to score. An error by Princeton’s third baseman produced two scores for the Elis, who halved their deficit. However, the Yale comeback was cut short on the next play, with LaGuardia retiring the next hitter to end the game.
“We had some great defensive and offensive plays,” Jerpbak said. “Our outfield did a fantastic job of catching and diving for every ball that was hit in their direction which is all you can ask for as a pitcher. [However,] going into next weekend’s games, it is important for us to continue to focus on one pitch and one game at a time and to work on getting hits and bunts in important, clutch situations.”
Yale will go back on the road to face Sacred Heart on Wednesday and play their last home games of the season next weekend, hosting Brown for another three-game Ivy League series.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org