It has been a lively and spirited start to the season for the Yale softball team — a squad looking to build upon a bright and promising 2018 spring campaign.
The Bulldogs (0–4, 0–0 Ivy) have begun the season with a suite of losses, but with over 40 games left in the season have plenty of time to grow. The core pitching staff of captain Terra Jerpbak ’19, Miranda Papes ’21 and Mary Baumann ’20 is joined by Nic Conway ’22, as the Elis look to maintain their position as one of the best rotations in the Ivy League. The team also features outfielders Shelby Kennedy ’19 and Carlin Hagmaier ’19 as well as an experienced infield, bolstered by first baseman and reigning team Most Valuable Player Sydney Grobman ’21. As the Elis enter the second week of play following losses to Boise State (10–2, 0–0 Mountain West), North Dakota (5–9, 0–0 Summit) and Grand Canyon (7–7, 0–0 Western Athletic), Yale still has plenty to feel good about.
“Boise State has an impressive team, and the fact that we were able to compete at their level has good implications for our team going forward,” outfielder Maya Seifert ’22 said.
Pitching remains one of the strongest elements for Yale, and the Bulldogs put up the second best earned run average in the Ivy League last spring. While the Elis lost Francesca Casalino ’18 — who finished her Yale career with the second most strikeouts in school history — the pitching core still features the veteran presence of captain Jerpbak. Jerpbak, who is coming off a season leading the school’s pitching staff with four wins and 10 complete games, ranked fourth in the Ivy League with a 3.22 ERA in 2018.
Baumann, a junior who has been limited by injuries in her last two seasons, as well as Papes, who as a first year finished second on the Elis with a 3.23 ERA, are both returning this year. Conway, an exceptional pitcher out of Catalina Foothills High School, where she was her school’s all-time leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts also joins Yale. Her lefty presence provides balance to the rotation.
The Bulldogs also have two All-Ivy outfielders returning this season in Hagmaier and Kennedy. Kennedy is coming off an exceptional season where she led the Ivy League with 24 stolen bases, tied for first in the league in walks and finished 10th in on-base percentage. She led Yale with 17 runs scored.
Also returning to the outfield are Olivia Vinyard ’20 and Giovy Webb ’20. Vinyard, before suffering a season-ending injury last year after playing in just six games, finished third on the team with five stolen bases and tallied a hit in five of the games she played in. Webb, who has just recently become a member of the Peruvian National softball team, scored 11 runs last year, which was second on the team.
Two first years vying for playing time in the outfield, Seifert and Olivia Sardoff ’22, put up truly outstanding numbers throughout their time in high school. During Seifert’s senior year at Valparaiso High School, she finished with a .459 batting average and a .571 on-base percentage, all while not committing a single error. Sardoff, who earned the title of her high school’s most valuable offensive player as a junior, led her team in almost every stat and is a great addition to an already stacked Bulldog outfield.
Equally impressive is the Bulldog infield. Although the team lost Allison Skinner ’18, the former captain and first-team All-Ivy third baseman, Phylicia Wilkov ’21 looks prepared to step up. In the 21 games that she appeared in last season, she batted .400 — scoring five runs in the process — with her team awarding her the Most Improved Player Award.
Katie Tews ’22 is also vying for playing time; a first-team all-state infielder in high school, she is her school record holder for batting average, hits, doubles and triples. Grobman also returns this year — in the 37 games she started as a first year last spring, she led the entire team in both batting average and RBI. Furthermore, despite injury troubles last year, shortstop Kortney Ponce ’21 also returns, ready to contribute. In addition, second baseman Annie Tarte ’20 was a model of consistency last year, starting in all 40 games while leading the team with 42 hits and finishing with an average of .296.
After beginning the 2018–19 season with four losses on their trip to Arizona, the Bulldogs are now looking to get back on track. Despite the Elis’ record, holding a Boise State team — which has already defeated top programs this year — to just two runs is a big achievement early on in the campaign.
Yale plays at 10 a.m. against Hartford and then later at 3 p.m. against Towson this Friday in Towson, Maryland.
Jared Fel | firstname.lastname@example.org