Yale Athletics

On Saturday, the Bulldogs recorded their first win in over 700 days after the pandemic-induced cancellation of nearly two full years of Yale softball. The Elis ended their opening weekend, which featured five tough games in Southern California, with two quality wins under their belt.

Yale (2–3, 0–0 Ivy) entered the 2022 season with only three upperclassmen on the roster. Last month, the Elis were selected to finish fifth in the Ivy League, a signal of the uncertainty associated with a considerable rookie presence. The team’s opening weekend can be seen as an encouraging sign that the newcomers are up to the task.

“We waited a long time for this day, it was hard to believe it when we were actually on the field again,” head coach Jen Goodwin said. “There were definitely some nerves, but it was mostly excitement when all was said and done.”

Yale struggled in its first two games on Friday, mustering only one run and losing in five innings in both games. In college softball, where regular play lasts seven innings, the game is called if a team leads by more than eight runs after five innings. Pitcher Maddie Latta ’25 started game one against Brigham Young University (13–4, 0–0 WCC) for the Bulldogs, throwing three innings. The Elis ultimately fell 8–0, recording just two hits. 

Veteran pitchers Nicole Conway ’23 and Miranda Papes ’22 combined to give the Elis 4.2 innings of game action in the second contest. Conway started the game against Yale’s second opponent, UC San Diego (10–11, 0–0 Big West), who had already played four ranked opponents this season, including No. 1 Oklahoma. Yale’s first run of the season came courtesy of Latta, who hit her first career home run in the second matchup. Ultimately, though, the Bulldogs fell 9–1.

“Playing in my first collegiate tournament is an experience I will never forget,” Latta said. “I have been working towards this for quite some time, and now that I am here, I can only say that I am so grateful to have this opportunity and excited to make the most of it.”

After a tough first day of play, Yale looked to bounce back on Saturday. The Bulldogs’ first game against Stony Brook (7–3, 0–0 America East) offered a great measuring stick opportunity — the Seawolves had recently beaten Brown, who was picked to finish last among the Ancient Eight, on a walk-off home run. 

Yale struck first, scoring three runs in the first inning. Catcher Sam Goodcase ’24 got the scoring going with an RBI single. Designated player Grayson Vives ’25 doubled later in the inning, batting in two runs to give the Bulldogs a comfortable first inning cushion. Latta also delivered a bounce-back performance, pitching a complete game and only giving up two earned runs. The Elis got contributions from all over their starting lineup — second baseman SJ Mull ’25 had three hits, Goodcase scored two runs and Vives finished two-for-two with three RBIs. Yale ultimately topped Stony Brook 5–4, recording its first win of the season.

“Other than being a tad sore, I was ready to compete again,” Latta told the News. “Pitching back-to-back games is nothing I am not used to doing. I wasn’t satisfied with my play from the previous day, so I was looking to change that with my second start.”

Yale kept its momentum going in Saturday’s second game against San Diego State (13–9, 0–0 Mountain West), sweeping the day’s slate after beating the Aztecs 7–3. Conway took the mound and also recorded a complete game, allowing just three earned runs across seven innings and recorded four strikeouts. The Bulldogs got the scoring started early again, with four runs coming in the second inning. Third baseman Carmen Muscolina ’24 hit her first career home run, driving in outfielder Sophie Woodridge ’25 in the process. Two batters later, outfielder Katie Donahey ’25 went deep as well, driving in first baseman Willa Ferrer ’24. Donahey finished two-for-three with a team-high three RBIs.

“The moment the ball hit the bat, it was an exhilarating feeling of validation that the months of training, uncertainty and anticipation were worth it, and for my first collegiate hit to be a home run was a storybook start to the season,” Muscolina said.

The weekend ended unceremoniously with an 11–0, five inning loss to Utah State (8–10, 0–0 Mountain West). Papes pitched four innings before Hannah Turner ’25 came in for relief. Mull recorded one of Yale’s two hits, finishing the weekend an impressive .357 batting average. 

“This is a feeling many of us have been waiting for since August of 2019 and being able to finally compete at the collegiate level has been surreal,” Muscolina added. “The adrenaline pumping the entire time we were on the field combined with getting to share this experience with such supportive and energetic teammates is thrilling.”

Yale’s season will continue this weekend when the Bulldogs travel to Arizona for the Spring Break Fiesta.

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