With just two more Ivy league series remaining, the Yale softball team will need the momentum it built from Wednesday’s split to carry over into one of its most important weekends of the season.
Currently in fifth in the Ancient Eight, the Bulldogs (14–23, 8–7 Ivy) wrap up the season with a three-game series against Harvard (16–15, 9–3), a team that is tied for first in the conference. The team they are tied with, Columbia (17–16, 9–3 Ivy) also has a date with the Elis this weekend in what should be a hard-fought rivalry matchup. Having won four of their last seven games, the Lions are coming into this series red hot, having swept Cornell (6–28, 2–10 Ivy) the weekend before. Meanwhile, Yale has gone 0.500 this past week, most recently taking one out of three from Brown (10–18, 3–9) and splitting a doubleheader against Sacred Heart (22–22, 6–4 NEC) in the process.
“This weekend is definitely going to be our toughest series yet,” pitcher Nic Conway ’22 said. “We have to come to play from the first pitch. We have the ability to win, we just have to put everything together.”
The first game of the Wednesday doubleheader showcased great pitching from both teams. Captain Terra Jerpbak ’19 struck out four and allowed just two hits in the four innings she pitched, not allowing a single run. Sacred Heart’s Kristen McCann matched Jerpbak over these four innings — allowing just three hits and giving up zero runs. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning, when shortstop Hailey Desrosiers hit an RBI single, giving her Pioneers a 1–0 lead. The Bulldogs immediately responded in the bottom of the fifth, as infielder Annie Tart ’20 hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score pinch runner Mary Baumann ’20. But the Desrosiers drove home the winning run in the top of the seventh with a double to left–centerfield field.
It was a different story in the second game, with pitchers Miranda Papes ’21 and Conway combining to limit Sacred Heart to just four hits. Papes got the nod to start, tossing four scoreless innings and allowing just one hit. The Bulldogs were also without a run through three innings, but in the bottom of the fourth, shortstop Kortney Ponce ’21 would score Jerpbak with a hard-hit, RBI single. The Elis added another run in the fifth, and with Conway now pitching, the Pioneers would score their first run in the sixth, making it 2–1. Yale responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, however, and Conway went on to pitch a perfect seventh — earning her a first career save.
“[Wednesday] was a great day for our team’s confidence,” Conway said. “We were able to work together and everyone played a role in the win. Miranda and I were very excited to split the [second] game because we both knew we are each others perfect compliment and the plan worked perfectly. She is a righty drop ball pitcher and throws harder while I throw mostly up in the zone.”
For its own part, Columbia has swept two of its four conference series this season. The team ranks second in the Ancient Eight with a batting average of 0.282, but ranks fifth in the league with a 4.38 team ERA. With that said, the Lion pitching rotation features one of the best arms in the entire conference — Monique Benjamin — who leads Ivy League pitchers with a 2.33 ERA.
Columbia also boasts one of the best hitters in the league in first baseman Max Ortega. Ortega’s 0.402 batting average places her fourth among Ivy League hitters, she is second only to Yale’s own Sydney Grobman ’21 with 41 hits, but leads the Ancient Eight with 30 runs batted in.
“This weekend is our last home weekend for the season,” Jerpbak said. “We are going into it feeling good and ready to beat Columbia. We know that they are aggressive hitters but we are just going to play like we know how. All of us individually have jobs to do and as long as we piece them together, we should be successful. It has been a productive week of practice and getting a win this past Wednesday will give us the momentum we need moving into this weekend.”
The Bulldogs return to Ivy League play against Columbia on Saturday at 12:30 p.m on the 5K Corral Field at DeWitt Family Stadium.
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