Courtesy of Steve Musco
In a Wednesday afternoon doubleheader at Yale’s DeWitt Family Stadium, Quinnipiac managed to extinguish the momentum Yale softball had developed in its 37-run outburst against Cornell last weekend. But despite dropping 9–0 and 8–3 decisions to the Bobcats, the Bulldogs are keeping everything in perspective.
Wednesday’s games honored Chris Labbadia, who passed away in a 2016 car accident. His sister Brittany Labbadia ’16 played shortstop for Yale (11–18, 6–3 Ivy), while his parents Lynn and Rocco Labbadia previously served as assistant coaches on the Quinnipiac (11–18, 4–0 MAAC) staff. As the Elis transition from midweek nonconference play back to Ivy League action this weekend, the series helps Yale refocus attention on itself and the opportunity to capture three wins when the Bulldogs welcome last-place Dartmouth (4–19, 1–5).
“We are reminded especially today to not take any day for granted and how much our Yale family truly means to each one of us,” captain and pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19 said after Wednesday’s losses. “Even though they were difficult losses, we are going to learn from them and use them to fuel us for Dartmouth this weekend. These games have not affected our hunger or fight to win the Ivy League this year. If anything, it has reminded us that we need to continue to work hard towards our common goals in order to be successful.”
Quinnipiac has now won six games in a row, as pitchers Brooklyn Maguire and Lauren King limited Yale to just three runs over the two contests. Second baseman Annie Tarte ’20 went 2-for-2 in the first contest on Wednesday, while Yale claimed an early lead in the second leg, scoring three times in the bottom of the first thanks to RBI singles from catcher Sydney Grobman ’21 and first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19. The Bobcats regained the lead with a four-run fourth inning and cruised to the win from there.
Grobman now ranks ninth in the Ivy League with a .376 batting average. The catcher from Coral Springs, Florida, in fact, leads every Ancient Eight hitter with 22 RBIs and promises to figure prominently in the Bulldog lineup this weekend against the Big Green. Center fielder Olivia Vinyard ’20 — who picked up a team-high three hits alongside Tarte across Yale’s losing efforts on Wednesday — ranks sixth in the conference, hitting .381.
“It’s still important for us to win and put runs up, but this weekend is all we are thinking about from here on out,” Grobman said Wednesday. “We learn from days like today. I think we will benefit from two days of rest without competition and really focus on what we struggled with in the doubleheader. If we come out and attack like we did against Cornell, we will have no issues — [we] just have to be fearless and have each other’s backs.”
Dartmouth, which has only won four of its 23 contests this season, limps into New Haven following a 17–10 loss at home to Penn. The Big Green managed to pick up its first league win of the season to start the series against the Quakers. Yet despite the crooked final result and its lopsided record, Dartmouth has battled in all but a couple of its six Ivy League contests. Excluding a 9–1 mercy rule loss, it dropped two of its games against first-place Columbia by a combined three runs.
In the 2019 preseason poll, media and institutional sports information directors around the Ancient Eight predicted Dartmouth — which finished just eight votes shy of Harvard — would finish second in the conference. The Big Green, who were league champions just a year ago, return first-team All-Ivy pick and last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, catcher Schae Nelson, alongside two senior All-Ivy first teamers, third baseman Morgan Martinelli and outfielder Taylor Ward. Yale hopes to capitalize against a squad that ranks last in Ivy League fielding percentage despite its returning weapons.
“This weekend is a huge weekend for us,” pitcher Nicole Conway ’22 said. “We really need to sweep Dartmouth in order to stay on track this season. They are a talented team, but I still really believe we can beat them.”
Conway and Jerpbak, who both rank top five in the conference with sub-three earned run averages, will likely each pitch significant innings for the Elis. The duo pitched all 17 innings in Yale’s three-game sweep of Cornell last weekend, a series that featured two wins by the mercy rule. Jerpbak also leads the Ancient Eight with 79.2 innings pitched, 64 strikeouts and seven wins.
Shortstop Kortney Ponce ’21 received the Ivy League Player of the Week award Monday after her 7-for-10 weekend against the Big Red. Despite missing the league series against Penn and Princeton with an injury, Ponce also recorded six RBIs and five runs. Her return will help the Elis in their quest for a second consecutive conference sweep this weekend.
Dartmouth, which leads the all-time series with Yale 43–30, swept the Bulldogs in three games in Hanover when the teams last met in April 2018.
William McCormack | email@example.com