Despite sharing the Ivy League title last season and receiving second in the Ancient Eight’s 2019 preseason poll, Dartmouth softball entered this weekend’s contest against Yale at 4–19 with just one win against a conference opponent.
But on Saturday afternoon at DeWitt Family Stadium, the Big Green (6–20, 3–6 Ivy) reminded the Ivy League — and the Elis (12–20, 7–5) — why the team might have deserved the optimistic early season buzz. Dartmouth belted 21 total runs in the doubleheader to collect a pair of consecutive wins for the first time since late February. The Bulldog bats went quiet on an afternoon when Eli pitchers struggled from the circle, but the team returned to life on Sunday as Yale captured an 8–5 win to follow up the earlier 10–2 and 11–3 losses. Catcher Sydney Grobman ’21 finished the three-game slate with a team-high six hits, including a third-inning RBI single on Sunday that gave Yale the go-ahead lead.
“We didn’t expect to win or to outplay them based on how they have done so far,” Grobman said after Sunday’s win. “That means nothing. We had to come out and compete no matter what has happened in the past. On Saturday, we struggled a little, and our pitching wasn’t spot on. When that happens, we need to be able to hit and support our pitchers, and we made that adjustment today.”
Grobman now ranks third in the conference after increasing her batting average to .404 this weekend. The catcher, who earned second-team All-Ivy honors last season as a first baseman, led the Bulldogs in batting average and RBIs in 2018. Grobman — the recipient of the team’s MVP award last season as a first year — currently leads the Ancient Eight with 38 hits and 25 RBIs.
But on Saturday, Dartmouth’s three returning first-team All-Ivy selections proved too much for Grobman and the Bulldogs to handle. Third baseman Morgan Martinelli, outfielder Taylor Ward and catcher Schae Nelson — the nucleus that led the Big Green to a conference championship in 2018 — propelled Dartmouth to two dominant wins alongside second baseman Micah Schroder, who hit seven for eight in the pair of games. Nelson picked up two RBIs in the first leg of the twin bill, while Martinelli plated two in the second half. Ward herself scored three runs — the total number Yale tallied — in the second win.
The Big Green, who have underperformed for most of the season so far, exploded out of the gate, sending eight batters to the plate in an opening inning that saw the visitors pull ahead 4–0. Yale responded with a two-RBI single in the bottom half of the inning from captain and pitcher Terra Jerpbak ’19, but did not score again until game two. Also the Elis’ starting pitcher, Jerpbak encountered uncharacteristic difficulty on the mound, allowing eight hits and six earned runs in 1.1 innings of work. The senior entered the weekend leading the conference with 79.2 innings pitched, 64 strikeouts and seven wins.
A similar script played out in the second half of the doubleheader. Dartmouth scored five times in the first two innings, while Yale kept pace with lone runs in the first, second and third thanks to a pair of RBIs from Grobman and an RBI double from left fielder Shelby Kennedy ’19. But the Big Green broke open the game with a five-run fourth inning bolstered by two Eli errors. Pitcher Mary Baumann ’20 let up six runs in four innings of relief, but five were unearned.
“We had a tough time making adjustments offensively yesterday, but everyone came out swinging today,” center fielder Olivia Vinyard ’20 said after Sunday’s win. “Our defense was solid and both Miranda [Papes ’21] and Terra pitched extremely well. The duo consistently hit their spots and were able hold Dartmouth’s offense to five [runs].”
On Sunday, Dartmouth seized an early advantage. But the Bulldogs barked back with three runs apiece in the third and fourth. In the third, Vinyard doubled to left center to score two before an RBI single from Grobman sent the center fielder home to make it 3–2 in Yale’s favor. In the next inning, right fielder Maya Seifert ’22 scored first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19 on a bunt before stealing second and advancing home on an RBI single from second baseman Annie Tarte ’20.
In the fifth, the Elis worked two walks before scoring two more on an RBI single from shortstop Kortney Ponce ’21 and an error by Big Green right fielder McKenna Gray. Jerpbak, who started the game as a designated hitter, assumed the mound in the middle of the fifth inning with the Elis leading 6–4. The captain threw 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the save and avoid what might have become a second consecutive Dartmouth sweep. Last season, the Big Green swept the Elis in three games in Hanover.
“[On Saturday], we definitely went in with a good mindset but things just didn’t fall our way,” pitcher Nic Conway ’22 said. “It was super frustrating, but being able to come back today was huge. Our coach used the word resilient in the post-game, and I think it’s a great way to describe our team. No matter what happens, we are able to come back even better than before.”
With no Wednesday game this week, the Bulldogs next head to Providence for a three-game series against last-place Brown on Saturday and Sunday.
William McCormack | email@example.com