Steve Musco

After finishing its play at home on a high note last weekend, the Yale softball team will look to do the same in its final weekend of games this season as it visits Dartmouth. The Bulldogs beat Brown in two of three games last week, and now will look for an even better result against the Big Green, who are coming off a win in the third game of a tough series against Ivy League leader Harvard.

Yale (10–27, 6–12 Ivy) won a series against a conference foe for the first time in April last weekend. The wins came on Senior Day and Alumni Day, and the Eli’s class of 2018 demonstrated why it will be missed on the diamond next year with strong performances in front of the home crowd. Now, the Bulldogs will have to beat the Ivy League’s second-best team in Dartmouth (16–16, 10–5 Ivy) if they want the senior’s last-ever collegiate games to go as well as they did last weekend: the senior’s last time playing at DeWitt Family Stadium.

“We’re really looking forward to this weekend,” Giovy Webb ’20 said. “We’ve been working really hard these past few days at practice to hone in on our skills and tighten up for the weekend. This is our last chance to show what we’re made of this season so all of us are definitely going to try and bring our best game out to the fields.”

The series against the Big Green has the potential to be a low-scoring one, as the Ivy League’s two best pitching staffs go head to head. Dartmouth enters the weekend with a 3.26 earned run average, while the Bulldogs are next at 3.38 and also lead the conference in strikeouts with 171. The Big Green has also been strong in the circle. Breanna Etheridge, who has been the most frequent starter for the team and pitched the first three innings in Dartmouth’s lone win last weekend, has 82 strikeouts in 89 innings. She also currently holds a 2.75 earned run average, which puts her in the top three in the Ivy League. Francesca Casalino ’18 and Miranda Papes ’21, who are fourth and fifth in the conference, respectively, both have an ERA above three.

Furthermore, the Elis are fresh from an impressive weekend on the mound, with three strong performances against Brown by pitchers Casalino, Terra Jerpbak ’19 and Papes. Casalino and Jerpbak tossed seven innings each without allowing an earned run, with Casalino leading the Bulldogs to their fifth shutout of the season. Papes, meanwhile, pitched nine innings for a 3–2 extra inning win to close out the weekend, allowing just five hits and striking out two in the victory. Both Casalino and Papes were named to this week’s Ivy League Honor Roll after their performances against Brown.

The Bulldogs enter the matchup with a somewhat anemic offensive output, having scored just 12 runs in their last seven games. By comparison, the Big Green has scored 46 runs in their last seven games, including a 12–1 rout of Princeton and a 10–0 shutout of Cornell. Dartmouth’s leading offensive producer, Micah Schroder, has a .616 slugging percentage and is batting .333 overall, good for 11th in the Ivy League. A key to Dartmouth’s success has been the long ball, with the team hitting 25 home runs while allowing just 11. Four players have combined for 19 of those 25 home runs.

The Elis will thus have to rely on their strong pitching and defense to limit Dartmouth’s impact offensively, and will look to first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19 to lead the way on offense. She was named to this week’s Ivy League Honor Roll and has been Yale’s best hitter in the season’s closing weeks. She enters the weekend on a six-game hitting streak and is batting .308 overall. First baseman Sydney Grobman ’21 leads the team with a .327 average, but has no runs and no RBIs in her last five games.

As Yale enters the last weekend of its season, it comes up against a Dartmouth team that has a lot to lose or gain from the outcome of the series. The Big Green is still in the hunt for a top-two finish in the Ivy League and a spot in the championship series, but its postseason hopes depend on its performance against the Elis and then against Brown the following weekend when it closes out the regular season.

“This weekend we are really focusing on having fun and making the most of the games,” outfielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 said. “We play our best when we play loose and enjoy ourselves, and we want to go out with a bang and allow our seniors to end their careers with some wins. We always try to play for something bigger than ourselves and this weekend we are definitely playing for our seniors.”

The series begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Dartmouth’s home field.

Masha Galay | marie.galay@yale.edu