Courtesy of Steve Musco

In its 16 games over spring break, the Yale softball team looked to get back on track after beginning the season with a 2–4 record in nonconference play.

The Bulldogs (8–14, 3–3 Ivy) posted a 6–10 mark in their demanding spring stretch, including two extra-inning victories. The Elis opened conference play in impressive fashion in a three-game series versus Penn (11–9, 3–3 Ivy), taking two out of three in a commanding fashion before suffering a 2–1 series loss to Princeton (5–13, 2–1 Ivy) this past weekend.

“We lost the first two [against Princeton] due to hesitation and lack of aggression,” catcher Sydney Grobman ’21 said. “We made a huge adjustment going into the third game. We changed our approach and started being more proactive. [Pitcher] Terra Jerpbak ’19 dominated on the mound, and [shortstop] Maya Seifert ’22 and [outfielder] Olivia Sardoff ’22 came in clutch in the last inning with leadoff hits. They gave us the energy to put Princeton away. Going forward, we need to attack sooner and create the energy we feel in big moments like today more often.”

The month of March began with a lackluster start for the Elis, as adverse weather led to the cancellation of five games set to take place in Maryland from March 1–3. But amazing work from the Yale grounds crew readied 5K Corral Field for a doubleheader against Hartford (6–10, 3–3 America East) with impending snow. In the first game, Jerpbak tossed a complete-game shutout while first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19 went 3–3 with an RBI. Grobman also had the highlight of the day with a two-run home run.

In the second game, and with the snow picking up, Grobman — a Florida native — did not seem deterred by inclement conditions. With the game tied in extra innings, Grobman singled to score outfielder Olivia Vinyard ’20, which lifted the Bulldogs to a walk-off 4–3 victory. The game was the first career win for pitcher Nic Conway ’22, who threw five scoreless innings of relief.

The Elis failed to capitalize on this momentum, however, winning just two of their next six games that followed in nonconference play, which included a three-game trip to Boca Raton. In a three-game series against Penn last weekend, Yale put up one of its most dominant performances of the season during the opening contest, with the squad firing on all cylinders.

Offensively, the Bulldogs were extremely impressive, with Grobman going 4–4 with four RBI’s and Jerpbak tallying a hit and finishing the game with three RBIs of her own. Jerpbak wasn’t just great at the plate. On the mound, she pitched another complete game and struck out three in the process to improve to 2–3 on the season.

In the second game, Penn pitcher Tabitha Dyer pitched a complete-game shutout of her own, setting up an exciting rubber match. While the Quakers quickly scored three runs in the first, the Bulldogs responded immediately, with Hagmaier delivering an RBI single and Jerpbak hitting a two-run double to tie the game at 3–3.

“The first game against Penn we came out ready to get some wins in our Ivy opener. We played very good defensively, kept our momentum moving offensively and we were able to score when we got runners on. Pitching-wise we came in strong with a good scouting report and [were] able to take down their hitters,” Jerpbak said. “Then the one game Sunday, we came back hungry for the win and when I went in to pitch, we had the same mind set and plan as the day before. I did my best to hit the locations we needed and attack each batter individually which turned out to be successful. By keeping a positive mind set and trusting my pitches, we were able to get another win under our belt to start off our first Ivy weekend ahead.”

Penn took back the lead again in the second inning, a lead that was short-lived when Grobman singled Vinyard home to tie the game at 4–4. Outfielder Giovy Webb ’20 later scored the go-ahead run for the Elis off of a throwing error, with second baseman Annie Tarte ’20 later singling to right to score Vinyard as an insurance run in the 6–4 Bulldog victory.

This series also showcased the offensive prowess of Vinyard. She went 2–3 with two RBIs in the rubber game against Penn and claimed 11 hits in her last 10 games. She currently ranks second on the team with 13 runs scored.

While Yale dropped the next two games in its series against UMass Lowell (10–12, 0–0 America East), the Bulldogs’ second game of a doubleheader against Wagner (5–15, 0–0 Northeast) amounted to one of their most exciting games of the season. Down by three runs in the top of the seventh, Tarte batted in Yale’s first run of the inning with a single to get the rally going. Grobman then drove in a run to cut the deficit to one run before Jerpbak tied the game with an RBI single and went on to finish the game with four hits and two RBIs.

Jerpbak held Wagner scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, and in the eighth, another clutch hit from Tarte brought in the go-ahead run and gave Yale a 6–5 lead. Jerpbak helped her own cause with an insurance run. The two-run lead proved to be enough, as she tossed a scoreless eighth to give the Bulldogs their seventh win of the season. The Elis then proceeded to drop their first two games against the Tigers later in the week but rallied to earn a 4–1 victory in the third game of the series.

“After [the second loss], we came ready to fight,” Jerpbak said. “After already seeing their hitters for the past two days, I was prepared to throw my best pitches to keep their hitters off balance. We always have a plan pitching-wise and today we stuck with it and were successful. Our clutch hits in the top of the seventh allowed us to get the victory after coming out strong defensively game two. It’s a great feeling to know in close games, my teammates are ready to step up and get the win for us when we need it.”

Yale resumes its regular season with a doubleheader against Central Connecticut State at home this Wednesday before traveling to Cornell for a three-game Ivy series this weekend.

Jared Fel | jared.fel@yale.edu