When a player hits more home runs during a season than an entire team, names like Babe Ruth come to mind. But if you watched Ivy League softball, you might be thinking of catcher Sarah Onorato ’15.
After leading the Ancient Eight with 14 round-trippers, two more than the entire team of Brown University, Onorato was named “Ivy League Softball Player of the Year” on Thursday. The sophomore backstop was no one-trick pony: She led the Ivy League in runs (37), hits (64), doubles (19), batting average (.430) and slugging percentage (.852).
In addition, she posted a glistening .965 fielding percentage and gunned down seven would-be base stealers, all while handling the Eli pitching staff.
The offensive outburst Onorato had this spring has put her in the record books. Her 14 home runs broke a school record and was the fifth-best single season total in Ancient Eight history. Onorato has also put herself in position to be the greatest slugger in Yale history, trailing teammate Christy Nelson’s ’13 record for career home runs (20) by just five with two seasons of eligibility remaining. Nelson set the mark this past season, hitting six dingers to overtake the previous record of 17 career long balls.
Over the summer, the Yale softball program made a change at the top, replacing former head coach Barbara Reinalda, who had led the team for eight seasons, with Jen Goodwin and moving Reinalda to the position of associate head coach.
A search committee was formed near the beginning of the summer to select the Bulldogs’ new coach. Administrators, students and alumni interviewed candidates and ultimately selected Goodwin for her strong hitting background and Ivy League coaching and recruiting experience, senior associate athletic director Amy Backus said.
Goodwin’s selection was announced Aug. 10. She said her transition has been very smooth, and she and the team are looking forward to getting out on the field.
“Yale is an outstanding university with a lot to offer,” Goodwin said. “Having coached in the league previously, I understand the philosophy and the goals and truly believe Yale offers the ultimate balance for our student-athletes.”
As associate head coach, Reinalda will continue to lead the team on and off the field. While her exact responsibilities are still to be determined, she said she plans to work with the pitchers and catchers and maintain a role in the office operations. Reinalda was inducted into the softball Hall of Fame in 1999 for her hugely successful 19 years pitching for the Raybestos Brakettes.
Although she is no longer head coach, Reinalda said she has no intentions of leaving the softball program.
“In the coaching world there are changes every year,” Reinalda said. “I am on board with whatever is going to better the program.”
Goodwin spent the last two years as the assistant executive director for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Prior to her work at the NFCA, she spent two years as Harvard’s assistant coach. There, she recruited two-time Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Rachel Brown and helped lead the Crimson to the Ivy League championship in 2007.
The search committee placed heavy emphasis on Goodwin’s experience, especially in recruiting, and in the Ivy League, Backus said. Goodwin said her passion for offense and intention to focus on the team’s infield and hitters will also allow her to balance Reinalda’s pitching and catching expertise.
“We know we need to be a better hitting team,” Backus said. “We think that [Goodwin’s hitting background] will be a very important balancing process for the duo we have.”
Goodwin met team captain Christy Nelson ’13 last Thursday and the rest of the team on Friday. Nelson said the team did not know there would be a new head coach when the season ended but was informed of the search in late June.
The softball team, which is currently in its off-season, has not yet set its team goals. Goodwin said she hopes to see the team “catapult up” in the Ivy League standings from last year’s last-place finish. Nelson said one of Goodwin’s strategies is to reevaluate the team arrangement and force the team to fight for their positions before the season begins.
Rhydian Glass ’16 said Goodwin struck her as enthusiastic and very out there to win.
“[Coach Goodwin] is incredibly motivated, very enthusiastic and very competitive,” Glass said. “She’s got some great plans for bringing the program to the next level.”
While the search was taking place, Reinalda led the team’s recruiting effort. She traveled around the country throughout the summer and presented Goodwin with a strong group of prospective student-athletes, Goodwin said. Goodwin has already seen some of them, and she said she has been extremely pleased.
Backus said the pairing of Goodwin and Reinalda will be very beneficial for the softball team this season.
“We hope that [Reinalda’s] wealth of experience will continue to be a great asset to the program,” Backus said. “We’ve partnered her with a new head coach who will bring new ideas on strategy. We hope that she will have the success she envisions and that it will be a great partnership for years to come.”
Last year, the softball team finished with a 12–34 overall record and a 5–15 record in the Ivy League.
As the season draws to a close, the softball team suffered two close losses to Army on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs will play their last games of the season this weekend against Brown in the hopes of ending the year on a high note. The Bulldogs outhit Army, committed fewer errors and showed strength on defense, but this was not enough to finish with a win.
“We have been keeping out heads up and are really excited to play Brown this weekend,” captain Christy Nelson ’13 said. “Today we had some tough losses, but we all played really well.”
For the majority of the first game, the Bulldogs (10–32, 3–13 Ivy) held a commanding lead over Army. After Army scored one run in the top of the first, Yale responded with three of its own. Jennifer Ong ’13 began the inning with a single, and Nelson walked, filling the bases for Sarah Onorato ’15, who hit a three-run homer, her first home run at Yale.
“The home run felt good,” Onorato said. “It was nice to get a good piece, since I’ve been struggling lately at the plate.”
Four hits in the bottom of the fifth added another run to the Elis’ score and gave them a 4–1 lead. But the Black Knights seized control at the top of the sixth and scored four runs, three of which came with two outs. Yale answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, including one from a double by Hannah Brennan ’15. Army took an 8–6 lead with three more runs in the top of the seventh, and while the Bulldogs secured runners on second and third, a double play ended the inning, and the Elis lost the game.
Over the course of the game, the Bulldogs had 14 hits, the largest number the team has attained in a game the entire season.
“We were ready to go,” Brennan said. “We knew we were going to have a challenge with Army, but we were ready and had very positive attitudes.”
In the second game, the Bulldogs struggled offensively. Although runners made it to base — Yale actually outhit Army in both games — the Elis could not bring them home. Yale lined the bases in the bottom of the seventh and scored one run, but they lost the game 2–1.
Over the past three matchups, the Bulldogs have been especially good at hitting home runs. Five of the team’s six season home runs have been in the last week.
“We don’t plan on hitting home runs; we focus more on base hits,” Nelson. “But it is great for team momentum when we get one.”
According to Nelson, the team had some of the best defensive plays of the season on Wednesday. Strong moments in the field included a few diving stops from Meg Johnson ’12 at shortstop and some great catches by center fielder Riley Hughes ’15. Additionally, the Elis committed fewer errors than Army, two to West Point’s four.
The Bulldogs will end their season with four games against Brown (8–25, 5–11 Ivy), the first two in Providence on Friday and the last doubleheader back in New Haven on Saturday. Currently, Yale is in last place within the Ivy League. But if the Elis win at least three of the four games this weekend, they will tie or overpass Brown in the standings.
“We’re extremely ready to take all four from Brown,” Brennan said. “We really want to end the season on a good, solid note especially for our seniors. We just have to play solid defense, hit the ball as well as we did today and have our pitchers perform as well as they did today. If we do those three things again, we should come out on top.”
The first pitch is at 2:00 p.m. Friday at the Brown softball field.
With two wins against Dartmouth this weekend, the softball team is regaining momentum after what has been a disappointing season.
The win marked the second and third Ivy League victories for the team this season. Two home runs by captain Christy Nelson ’13 and a career-first homer by Tori Balta ’14 buoyed the Bulldogs (10–30, 3–13 Ivy) to sweep Dartmouth on Saturday, though they lost both games on Sunday.
“Based on our season so far, the split is a step in the right direction,” shortstop Meg Johnson ’12 said.
In the first game on Saturday, Yale and Dartmouth (12–21, 5–11 Ivy) were quiet offensively for the first four innings. Johnson singled in the second inning and, after stealing two bases, reached home off of an illegal pitch to bring the Bulldogs their first run of the game. The Big Green responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the second to secure a 2–1 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Balta stepped up to the plate with one on and one out. She hit the ball out of the park in her first home run wearing Yale blue. The two runs she drove in gave the Bulldogs a 3–2 victory.
Defensively, the Bulldogs excelled. Yale stopped Dartmouth with the bases loaded twice, ending the inning with three runners left on base. Pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 won her second game in a row and struck out four Big Green batters.
“The wins were definitely a team effort,” Nelson said. “We had great pitching mixed with flawless defense, and we got the key hits at the right time. Our defense made some great plays on Saturday with runners in scoring position, which gave us a huge momentum advantage.”
The Elis took another early lead in the second game. After Jennifer Ong ’13 and Balta singled, Johnson sealed the deal with a two-RBI double and soon reached home herself. Two more Bulldog runs — including a fifth-inning home run by Nelson — brought the score to 5–2, and a bottom-of-the-sixth rally by Dartmouth was not enough to secure the win. Yale took its second win of the day with a final score of 5–4.
Kristen Leung ’14 took the win for the Bulldogs, and Kylie Williamson ’15 gave Yale its first save of the season. On Saturday, the Elis outhit Dartmouth both games.
“We played hard and well for all 14 innings on Saturday,” Johnson said. “Our defense was making smart plays, pitchers were doing their job and as hitters, [and] we connected when we needed to.”
Sunday’s games were far less successful for the Bulldogs. In the first game, Dartmouth beat Yale 8–0 in six innings, keeping the Elis to two hits. The Big Green seized the advantage with four runs in the bottom of the first, and the Bulldogs could not recover.
Yale fared slightly better in the second game. Down 8–1 in the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs attempted a rally. Nelson brought in two runs with her second homer of the weekend. Johnson and Sarah Onorato ’15 continued the rally with a single each, and Williamson walked to load up the bases. Although Kelsey Warkentine ’13 brought Johnson home, the Bulldogs left two runners on base and ended the game 8–4.
The Big Green scored six of its runs in the bottom of the third. That inning, the Bulldogs had three errors, which contributed to three unearned runs. Additionally, three runs came on Dartmouth’s last out. If the Bulldogs had put a stop to the inning, they may have won the game.
“We have to keep building off our good at-bats and focus on small goals like we did on Saturday,” Johnson said. “We need to focus on one inning and one at bat at a time.”
Last year, the Bulldogs ended their season with a 17–25 record, winning eight of 20 games against Ivy League opponents. With only six games left in the season — two against Army on Wednesday and four against Brown this weekend — the Bulldogs cannot match either record.
However, significant wins can give the Elis an advantage in the Ivy League. Currently, Yale is tied with Brown for the worst record in the North Division of the Ivy League.
“We can take a lot from this past weekend and apply it to our last week of season,” Johnson said. “We know we have the talent to beat Army and Brown. We just need to have a solid game in every aspect. We’ll bring that intensity and hard work this week and keep striving for these remaining victories.”
The Bulldogs next face Army at home on Wednesday. Last year, Army swept Yale 12–0 and 6–1, but team members said the team is feeling confident going into Wednesday’s doubleheader.
“I’ve learned that our team is capable of so much and everyone is able to come out and perform,” left fielder Riley Hughes ’15 said. “I’m looking forward to coming out strong and getting some more wins.”
After 15 straight losses, the softball team turned the tide and broke its losing streak with a 3–0 shutout against Sacred Heart in the nightcap of the teams’ doubleheader Wednesday.
While the Pioneers (17–26) won the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Bulldogs (8–28, 1–11 Ivy) said their first victory this month caused a significant momentum shift — just in time for more Ivy League play this weekend.
“The team I saw on the field today was the Yale softball team I know and love,” Meg Johnson ’12 said.
Johnson earned the 155th hit of her career in the nightcap and is now tied for seventh in career hits in Yale softball history.
Sacred Heart did not just have home field advantage: Wednesday marked their first game in the newly renovated Pioneer Park in Fairfield, Conn.
In the first game, the Elis took an early 2–1 lead in the top of the second after Kelsey Warkentine ’13, Riley Hughes ’15 and Chelsea Janes ’12 each singled, driving in two runs. But Yale’s advantage ended after Sacred Heart scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth. A Pioneer grand slam in the bottom of the fifth, made possible by three walks and a wild pitch, gave the home team a 7–2 lead.
Yale responded when Tori Balta ’14 started the sixth inning with a single down the left field line. Captain Christy Nelson ’13 then hit a home run, her first of the season, to bring the score to 7–4. But the Bulldogs retired leaving runners on first and third that inning, and even a double by Jen Ong ’13 was not enough for them to secure the win.
“We kept our heads on the ball, made adjustments and kept up high energy in the second game,” Johnson said.
The Bulldogs were ready from the top of the first inning. Ong and Johnson singled, and Kylie Williamson ’15 drove them home with a two-RBI triple. Williamson’s hit was even more impressive considering she pitched five innings in the first game.
“I didn’t have my best day on the mound, but it felt good to turn around and help out offensively,” Williamson said.
Both teams were held scoreless for the next five innings. Sarah Onorato ’15 scored at the top of the seventh, bringing the score to 3–0, and the Pioneers were unable to respond.
Chelsey Dunham ’14, who took her sixth season win, pitched her best game in several weeks. Securing her first shutout of the season, Dunham struck out three batters and gave up only three hits.
“The win today was a complete team win,” Dunham said. “We had great hitting and solid defense throughout the game.”
Team members said the Bulldogs proved more successful at bat and on the field. Yale outhit Sacred Heart in both games, 9–8 in the first and 6–3 in the second, and hits often translated to runs, though Johnson said the Bulldogs still have to work on pitch selection. The team hopes to maintain this level of play for the rest of the season, she added.
“In the next two days we just need to have two focused practices and carry the energy from today into the weekend,” Dunham said. “We know we can win this weekend, and it’s our time to do it together.”
The Bulldogs next face Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. for four games this weekend — Saturday and Sunday at 12:30. Last year they won one of the three games, but team members said they are confident that the recent momentum shift may lead to their first Ivy victory.
Currently, the team has only won one of 12 games against Ivy League opponents.
“We need to take this passion and adrenaline into Dartmouth and remember how it feels to win again,” Johnson said. “Remember that sense of pride and accomplishment and go out and do what it takes to feel that again. We’re ready.”
The women’s softball team was no match for first-place Harvard and fell in all four of its games Saturday and Sunday by considerable margins.
The Bulldogs (7–27, 1–11 Ivy) took their 14th straight loss and maintained their last-place status in the Ivy League. Over the course of the weekend, the Crimson (24–10, 11–1 Ivy) outscored the Elis by 43 runs.
“[The Crimson] had everything to lose. We had nothing to lose. Breaking our losing streak against Harvard would’ve been ideal,” Meg Johnson ’12 said.
The mercy rule cut three of the four games played short. Harvard won the first game 11–2 in six innings, the second 14–1 in five innings and the third 15–1 in five innings. But the Bulldogs showed some improvement and the closest game was the final matchup, in which Harvard beat Yale 9–2 after the Bulldogs rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Harvard is known especially for its strong pitching staff, including three-time All-Ivy Rachel Brown. Crimson pitchers held Yale scoreless for 19 innings, and Brown only gave up two earned runs over two games.
“We went in with the expectation that we would put some runs on the board and give them a good game,” captain Christy Nelson ’13 said. “But they outhit our pitching.”
The Bulldogs struggled on defense as well. Harvard scored multiple runs in 12 of 16 innings and managed to score six runs in an inning twice and seven runs once. Team members said the Bulldogs should have put a stop to these innings early on.
“A lot of physical and mental mistakes out there really cost us,” Johnson said. “But again, it’s hard for every team to stay energized when you’re down by 11 runs.”
The Bulldogs were also out-staffed by the Crimson. While Yale had 13 able-bodied players, Harvard fielded an average of 17.5 a game. Yale could not afford the luxury of pinch runners and substitutes, and so some team members said the lack of energy was understandable.
Taking a step away from the scoreboard, the Bulldogs said they appreciated the opportunity to play their northern rivals. Johnson, in her fourth career Harvard-Yale game, described the excitement of the matchup.
“It’s a dream to play for your fans and family against your archrival,” Johnson said.
The Bulldogs have 12 games left this season.
Yale will next face Sacred Heart (16–25) in Fairfield on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
If the softball team hopes to win against Harvard this weekend, the Bulldogs will need to bring their best play to the field.
While the Bulldogs have lost the last 10 games, the Crimson has excelled this season. Harvard (20–10, 7–1 Ivy) boasts the best record in the Ivy League while Yale (7–23, 1–7) sits at the bottom of the list. Team members said that to take on their northern rival, the Bulldogs have to play aggressively and put their hours of training to use.
“We know we can beat them, but we also know it will be an intense game” Hannah Brennan ’15 said. “If we play the best game we can, we’ll come out on top.”
Felling Harvard will not be easy. Harvard pitcher Rachel Brown has allowed an average of four hits per game and struck out 143 batters this season, placing her seventh and ninth in the NCAA, respectively. With a batting average of .451, the tenth best in the NCAA, infielder Jane Alexander poses an additional threat to the Bulldogs’ defense.
Kylie Williamson ’15 said the team has been working especially hard in preparation for this weekend and has focused on being “sharp with defense and strong with the bat.”
The team is starting to look more at opponents’ statistics, she added. Knowing the other teams’ batters better is particularly helpful for the Bulldogs’ pitchers and catchers, Williamson said.
The Bulldogs last played on Wednesday, when they fell 6–0, 6–3 in a doubleheader against Wagner. Although Chelsea Janes ’12 said the team was hoping to go into this weekend with a win right behind them, she added that the team still felt confident and enthusiastic. Janes is a staff columnist for the News.
“Every single one of us knows the best way to reverse [Wednesday’s game] is a win over Harvard,” Janes said. “[The game] didn’t affect our belief in or ability to get wins this weekend. If anything, we now have further incentive. We saw some good progress at the plate and will be ready to make our best effort at beating Harvard this weekend.”
Last year, Harvard won all four games of the weekend contest. Three were easy victories and finished in fewer than the standard seven innings, but one game came incredibly close. Though the Bulldogs scored a stellar five runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game 11–11, Harvard responded with a triple and RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the victory.
Throughout this year, the Bulldogs have shown a tendency to come back from steep losses to narrow the scoring gap late in the game. Team members have said continually the team dynamic remains strong, and the Elis support each other regardless of the game’s outcome.
“Everybody is still staying together,” Williamson said. “Everybody’s heads are still up. We are still fighting every game and we haven’t given up by any means. We’re just waiting for a spark.”
The Bulldogs will face the Crimson at home Saturday and Sunday. The first pitch is at 12:30 p.m.
Things are looking grim for the Bulldogs. With the looming prospect of this weekend’s contest against Harvard, the softball team lost its 10th straight game at the hands of Wagner on Wednesday.
Last year, Yale split with the Seahawks (14–26), winning the first game 9–1 but losing in the second 7–4. But in Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Bulldogs (7–23, 1–7 Ivy) fell in both games, 6–0, 6–3.
“We all know we could play a better game than we did,” Hannah Brennan ’15 said. “We should be winning games — that’s the bottom line.”
In the first game, the Bulldogs counted four hits to Wagner’s six, but while the Seahawks translated each hit into a run, the Elis could not do the same. In fact, Yale runners never made it past second base.
Whereas last year the Bulldogs were shut out six times total, Wednesday’s game marked the team’s scoreless game so far. There are 16 games remaining in the season.
“We need to string out hits together,” Brennan said. “We need to get rallies going. We’re a really good hitting team, but we haven’t been showing it recently.”
Pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 (5–10) took her fifth straight loss. Over the course of the game, she struck out six batters, just shy of her season high of seven.
The Bulldogs came out more aggressively in the nightcap, Jen Ong ’13 said. In the bottom of the first inning, Brennan drove in two runs with a double to right-center field. A subsequent error brought her home and gave Yale a 3–0 lead.
“I haven’t been hitting too well recently, so that [double] just felt awesome,” Brennan said.
But the Elis did not score for the remainder of the game. Bit by bit, Wagner caught up in the fifth inning and overtook the Bulldogs. Wagner’s two runs in the top of the seventh, which brought the score to 6–3, put the final nail in the coffin. The Bulldogs could not respond and ended the inning with only three at-bats.
Brennan said the team’s pitching was not at fault for the loss, but the Elis struggled offensively. Though the team struck out less often — six times over the course of the double-header, compared to 12 against Cornell and 17 against Princeton last weekend — the Bulldogs still could not get on base often enough to score runs.
“I think we learned that we need to start hitting more and putting everything together,” Ong said.
The Bulldogs next face Harvard at home this weekend. As Northern Ivy League opponents, they will play four games over the course of Saturday and Sunday.
“I guess we came in to today hoping for a tune-up before Harvard, and while we saw some good things at the plate, we ultimately just didn’t have enough,” Chelsea Janes ’12 said. “Honestly, our momentum isn’t good right now, and we definitely feel the weight of that.”
Janes, a staff columnist for the News, added that Wednesday’s loss increased incentive for the Bulldogs to beat Harvard, and the team is still confident it can win this weekend.
Last year the Cantabs swept the Bulldogs, 8–0, 11–1, 12–11, 11–3.
Despite noticeable offensive improvements, the softball team could not snag a win against its Ivy League rivals this weekend.
The Bulldogs (7–21, 1–7 Ivy) fell to Princeton (9–20, 5–3 Ivy), on Friday and to Cornell (16–13, 7–1 Ivy) on Saturday for their eighth loss in a row.
“I’m looking forward to the game where our team doesn’t beat ourselves,” Meg Johnson ’12 said. “We all know what’s doable, and we keep falling short.”
On the surface, the Bulldogs made some key adjustments. They collected 18 runs and 38 hits last weekend, compared to 8 runs and 22 hits against Columbia and Penn on March 30 and 31. Furthermore, Yale managed to score early on — eight of their 11 runs against Big Red were in the first four innings.
Johnson said the team has to work on ending the inning strong defensively. Often, Johnson said, the Bulldogs have little trouble getting two outs but cannot close the inning without witnessing a rally. In fact, 15 of the 28 runs the Elis gave up were on their opponents’ third out.
“We are a team that is capable of putting runs on the board and getting hits,” Johnson said. “But at the same time, we realize we have to focus more on defense and slam the door shut.”
In the first game against Princeton, Yale waited until the fourth inning to score. Sarah Onorato ’15 started the inning with a single to center field, taking the score to 4–1 as she crossed home plate. But the Bulldogs could not deliver any more runs and left runners on second and third at the inning’s conclusion.
At the bottom of the seventh, Yale was down 6–1. Although Johnson and Tori Balta ’14 scored, the Elis could not make up the deficit and ended the game 6–3.
The second game panned out in a remarkably similar fashion. Again, the Bulldogs waited until late in the game to score and gathered their first run in the fifth inning. Yale scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh but could not win the game, and the Elis lost 6–4.
“When a couple things went wrong, we got a little scared,” Riley Hughes ’15 said. “I think we need to keep our mental composure when things don’t go our way.”
Outhitting Cornell in both games, the Bulldogs performed better on Saturday. But Cornell still managed to sweep the Elis 8–6, 8–5.
The Bulldogs took a sizeable 5–0 lead in the first two innings of the opening game with singles from Balta, Hughes, Jennifer Ong ’13 and Kylie Williamson ’15 alongside a three-RBI triple by captain Christy Nelson ’13. An additional run for Yale in the sixth left Cornell down 6–3 at the top of the seventh. But the Big Red came back with a five-run inning, including two home runs, and the Bulldogs could not respond.
“We couldn’t go out there and finish it,” Kelsey Warkentine ’13 said. “We scored runs and then sat on them.”
In the second game, Yale again took an early lead, 1–0 at the bottom of the first thanks to a triple by Balta to right center field. But Cornell responded with eight runs in the next five innings, and the Elis’ comeback fell short with just a run each in the sixth and seventh innings.
Cornell, Johnson said, is notorious for its rotational hitting style, which drives in more home runs. It is the only school in the Ivy Leagues to adopt such a style, she added. In the first game, the hitting style was incredibly successful, and drove in seven of Big Red’s eight runs.
Although Johnson said the team’s energy has run low, Hughes said the players have remained supportive of each other.
“Every time someone got a hit, everyone would get so pumped up and so excited, and just seeing that fire and passion from the team was a highlight for me,” Hughes said.
The Bulldogs next face Wagner (10–26) at home on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.
Plagued by weak hitting and frequent errors, the softball team took another pair of losses Wednesday against the University of Rhode Island (13–16).
Since returning from the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. during spring break, Yale has only won four out of 16 games. Yale fell to the Rams, 5–3, in the first game and 7–0 in the second. Although the team gets on base, the Elis (7–17, 1–3 Ivy) have suffered from an inability to gain the upper hand early on.
“Our approach to the game was to just get our bats going and not put too much pressure on ourselves,” captain Christy Nelson ’13 said. “We haven’t been able to really get the momentum going.”
Outside of Florida, where the team went 3–5, the Bulldogs have only won games in which they scored in the second, third or fourth innings. Team members say the team’s drive never to give up is a sign of character, but they added that they are hoping to score more runs early on. Thirty of the team’s 44 runs have come from the fifth inning or later, and the Bulldogs have scored three times as many runs in the eighth inning as they have in the third.
“We need to go into the game with a positive, strong attitude and be aggressive at the plate early on,” Balta said. “Then you set the tone. If the tone is high at the beginning of the game, it will carry over for the rest of the game.”
Still, the team shows improvement over last year. On Apr. 6, 2011, the Bulldogs were 1–13 outside of Florida. Yet last year against Rhode Island, the Elis swept in a tight doubleheader. Yale won the first game 4–3 in eight innings and took the second 12–11 victory with two doubles in the bottom of the seventh.
In Wednesday’s opening game, the Bulldogs came out strong against the Rams. Nelson singled to center field and teammate Sarah Onorato ’15 answered with an RBI double, but the Bulldogs did not score for the next five innings. While they had many scoring opportunities — including in the second inning when the bases were loaded with only one out — they could not bring any runners home.
The Rams built up their lead and left the Elis down 5–1 in the top of the seventh. Meg Johnson ’12 started a rally with a single, and Jen Ong ’13 responded with one of her own. Singles by Nelson and Kylie Williamson ’15 brought the score to 5–3 with runners on second and third. But the comeback fell short, the inning ended, and the Bulldogs took their first loss of the day.
“It was good to see our team come back in the last inning of the first game and put pressure on the other team,” Nelson said. “We just made our adjustments at the plate a little too late.”
Chelsey Dunham ’14 (5–7) pitched all six innings and struck out three batters. She took her second loss in a row.
While the Bulldogs outhit the rams 11–9, they could not convert hits to runs. Ong said the team looked strong at bat, but Nelson added that the team often scores only one run an inning and has struggled with multiple-run rallies.
“We need to be tougher when we are hitting with runners in scoring position and have a little more edge and determination to get those RBIs,” she said.
In the second game, the team fell apart, center fielder Tori Balta ’14 said. In its sixth shutout of the season, Yale was held scoreless and got only one hit for all seven innings.
Over the course of the game, the Bulldogs had four errors, which resulted in four of the Rams’ seven runs. Team members said the Elis lacked concentration on the field.
“As a team, you can’t let previous losses carry over to the next game,” Balta said. “We have to make sure past errors and past mistakes don’t snowball on top of each other.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs will take on two Ivy League teams at home. They face Princeton on Friday and Cornell on Saturday.
“We are just going to stay positive going into the weekend knowing we still have 16 more league games ahead of us,” Nelson said.
The first pitch against Princeton is set for 2 p.m.
In its first Ivy League games of the season, the softball team came up short with only one win in four games this weekend.
The Bulldogs (7–15, 1–3 Ivy) split their doubleheader against Columbia on Friday but lost both games to Penn on Saturday. The team has won only two of its last 10 games.
“We need to figure out a way to change our approach to the plate and the game in general and come out with a killer instinct,” infielder Riley Hughes ’15 said. “We have the abilities, we just have to back those up.”
In the first game against Columbia (7–18, 1–3 Ivy), the Bulldogs did not score for the first five innings and found themselves down 4–0 in the top of the sixth. A single by Meg Johnson ’12 brought home Tori Balta ’14 and took the score to 4–1. Captain Christy Nelson ’13 singled and Kelsey Warkentine ’13 walked, leaving the bases loaded with two outs, but the Bulldogs could not deliver any more runs.
Hughes said the team needs to start each game strong rather than hope to come back against its opponents.
“We need to always come out hard in the beginning and not wait for the game to progress before we put some runs on the board,” she said. “We need to be more aggressive because it will really help our attitude and how we approach the last innings of the game.”
Though tempered by their recent loss, the Bulldogs went into the second game against Columbia feeling energetic, Kristen Leung ’14 said. For the first time in several games, the Bulldogs took an early lead and turned the tables on the Lions.
Jennifer Ong ’13 started the first inning with a single and made it around the bases with a sacrifice bunt and fly from Balta and Nelson respectively. The Lions responded with a run in the bottom of the first, but the Elis scored two in the second and one more in the fourth to bring the score to 4–1. A last-minute push by Columbia was not enough to grab the win, and Yale finished with a one-run lead.
“It was a total team effort in our wins and losses. As a group, we were good when we were good and bad when we were bad,” catcher Chelsea Janes ’12 said. (Janes is a staff columnist for the News.)
But the team’s performance to a downward turn against the Quakers (19–10, 4–0 Ivy) on Saturday.
In the first game, the Bulldogs held Penn to one run but could not manage to score. Yale left a runner on base for five of the seven innings played, but the team had only three hits and could not bring its runners home. Chelsey Dunham ’14 (5–5) pitched a good game against Penn, giving up only one run in six innings.
In the second game, the Quakers took an early lead and held it until the end. After four innings, the Bulldogs found themselves down 14–0 and on their third pitcher, Alex Lucas ’14. An impressive three runs in the top of the fifth were not enough to stave off the mercy rule, and the Bulldogs fell 14–3 after just five innings.
“Eight hits over two games against Penn is never going to do it, especially when they don’t come at the right times,” Janes said. “The scores don’t show all the potential that we had, but the scores do show something, We’re pretty disappointed.”
After a fairly promising preseason, the Bulldogs said losing to their first Ivy League competitors was crushing. Janes added that Ivy League games are “pretty much all that matter” to the team.
The Elis will have another chance to take on Ivy teams this weekend, when they face Princeton (5–18, 2–2 Ivy) on Friday and Cornell (12–11, 3–1 Ivy) on Saturday, both at home. Last year, Yale split with the Tigers but was swept by Cornell. Despite these losses, players remain confident the team can come back against its Ivy opponents next weekend.
“I think we know that we have what it takes to do well in Ivy League play,” Leung said. “We have the skills, the ability and the confidence. We just need to focus and bring it together for next weekend.”
On Wednesday, the Bulldogs will play Rhode Island (9–15) away at 3 p.m.