Steve Musco

The Yale softball team will not be losing any players this spring with the graduating class of 2021. The original senior class consisted of catcher and first baseman Sydney Grobman ’22, pitcher Miranda Papes ’22 and infielder Kortney Ponce ’22. All three,, decided to take a gap year for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although taking time off was a difficult decision, all three players expressed their excitement for being able to play another year of softball and felt like they had been productive during their time away from school.

“The three of us have gone through a lot together,” Grobman said. “We are like sisters. We have been together since the beginning, and it’s been a tough ride for the three of us as a group, so I think it means a lot to us, this last season, being able to play together.”

Yale softball head coach Jen Goodwin also anticipates the return of this class.

“The fact that we have these three for another year, is just [exciting], for leadership, first and foremost, but also for the ability to contribute on the field. … It’s a gift,” Goodwin told the News.

Ponce believes that the team will be “stacked with some really competitive players” next year and that she is “excited to see what our team can do in the Ivy League and win an Ivy League championship.”

In March of this year, Team USA Softball announced that Yale assistant coach Laura Ricciardone would be joining their Olympic staff as a training camp coach. This is Ricciardone’s second stint with USA Softball, after traveling with the team in 2017-18.

With the Yale spring season in a state of flux, Team USA saw an opportunity to recruit Ricciardone for training camp, the assistant coach said. The training camp takes place in Clearwater, Florida, from March 3 to 18.

“Because Yale Softball won’t be competing this spring, I have the ability to manage Yale responsibilities remotely for these weeks of camp and help execute these training camps with USA,” Ricciardone wrote in an email to the News. “I’m really grateful to USA for providing me the opportunity to join the team and help execute training sessions and competitions. I’m also thankful to the Yale administration for letting me take advantage of this opportunity this spring.”

Yale had not yet started conference play in softball when their season was canceled last year. The Bulldogs were 5–10 overall before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Yale had played in three tournaments to prepare for Ivy League play: the Silicon Valley Classic, Liberty Classic, and Clearwater Spring Break Invitational. 

The Elis were set to play their next series against Penn.

Nader Granmayeh '23 is a former staff writer who covered football and softball for the Yale Daily News.