Rain in New Haven postponed Saturday’s softball bout between Yale and Columbia. But despite taking in only two games Sunday, Bulldog fans still enjoyed more than just 14 innings of action.
On a dark, cloudy afternoon at DeWitt Family Stadium, Yale (15–24, 9–8 Ivy) first fell to the second-place Lions (18–17, 10–4) 4–2 in an eight-inning pitchers’ duel that saw captain and left-hander Terra Jerpbak ’19 lead the Elis into extra innings, allowing just one run through her first seven innings of work. The captain’s strong play highlighted a special Senior Day in which the Bulldogs captured a comeback 5–2 victory in game two and found the chance to honor Jerpbak, first baseman Carlin Hagmaier ’19, left fielder Shelby Kennedy ’19 and catcher Cristina Teems ’19 before game one.
“It’s been such an amazing four years, and it has flown by so quickly,” Jerpbak said. “Today we came out with good energy, and it was so nice to know my teammates were willing to do whatever it takes to make us have a wonderful last home weekend. It’s sad the year is coming to an end, but I’m glad we all had fun and were able to split against Columbia today.”
Across their four-year careers, the members of Yale’s class of 2019 have helped the Elis secure 60 wins. Over 105 games, Jerpbak has pitched 436 innings, started 61 games and nearly eclipsed 300 career strikeouts. Her 294 career Ks rank second among all Bulldog softball pitchers in school history. Kennedy and Hagmaier, meanwhile, have combined for 223 career hits.
Fittingly, it was Yale’s seniors — specifically Jerpbak and Hagmaier — who spearheaded the Eli effort early Sunday. The veteran first baseman collected two hits, spurring on a successful fourth inning with a single to right that advanced second baseman Annie Tarte ’20 and center fielder Olivia Vinyard ’20. On the next play, Jerpbak launched a sacrifice fly to left field that plated Tarte and tied the game at one.
Jerpbak had allowed a run in the third inning off a Columbia double and two consecutive sacrifice plays — first a bunt and then a pop fly to center — but shut the Light Blue down through the end of seven. She remained in the game for the eighth, facing 34 batters on the afternoon and encountering some trouble in what would be the game’s final frame. Columbia took a 4–1 lead with four hits in the top of the eighth, while Yale — only scored once in its final half inning, ultimately falling 4–2. Shortstop Kortney Ponee ’21 and Hagmaier were left on first and third to end the game.
A brief rain delay pushed the first pitch of Sunday’s second leg back and chilled Yale’s bats early. The Bulldogs went hitless in the first three innings before riding a late-game offensive surge to the 5–2 win.
In the circle, first-year lefty Nic Conway ’22 — who has now thrown 84.1 innings on the season while emerging as a lethal complement to Jerpbak — was simply dominant. Columbia third baseman Max Ortega launched a two-run blast in the first, but Yale’s rookie showcased the composure that has helped her to a 2.82 ERA and 53 strikeouts, allowing just three hits after the first.
Yale scored three times in the fourth inning, thanks in part to a Ponce double with a deep drive that barely escaped the outstretched glove of Lions center fielder Amber Swinarski. Ponce arrived at second safely as Jerpbak and Hagmaier reached home to make it 3–2 Yale.
“We definitely came out today with a drive to win, and I think after losing in extra innings in game one, we had a huge fire in us to win game two,” Ponce said. “We didn’t let the first two runs in the first inning get to us and we really pulled together as a team to get the job done and come out with a big win on our Senior Day.”
Yale tacked on two more in an exciting fifth inning, especially for Tarte. The Tampa, FL native sent a line drive down the third base line that evaded the reach of Light Blue left fielder Genny Soltesz and rolled down to the Ivy League insignia beside the left-field foul pole. Kennedy scored easily, and as Soltesz scrambled to recover the ball and send it to the cutoff, Tarte sprinted around the bases. STarte slid into home for an inside-the-park home run and a 5–2 Eli lead.
Conway tossed all seven frames in the win, overcoming two early baserunners in the top of the seventh to seal the game. In the final inning, as the sun finally broke through the gray cocoon of storm clouds that had blanketed the field all afternoon, the Light Blue bench turned their visors upside down in hopes of a seventh-inning rally. But Conway overcame two early baserunners to induce an infield fly and strike out Swinarski looking. After the Arizona native hit a Lion batter in her next at-bat to load the bases, Ponce collected the afternoon’s final out in foul territory, as catcher Sydney Grobman ’21 provided direction behind the plate.
“I really would have loved to get three up, three down because leadoff walks are very unfortunate,” Conway said. “Sydney, she came out with a 3–2 count, [and] she’s like, ‘This girl has not hit off you this game, she doesn’t know what to expect. Let’s just go straight at her, give her a good pitch.’ She popped it up, and Kortney [Ponce] made the really good catch. That’s always been a hole, so we were really excited to get that catch finally.”
Yale’s senior quadruple will enjoy one final match at DeWitt when the Bulldogs make up Saturday’s postponed contest with Columbia this Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m.
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