2012 Season Preview: Bulldogs Set To Open Next Week At Rebel Games
Yale Plays 10 Games In Florida
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – All the ingredients seem to be in place for the 2012 Yale softball team to enjoy a successful season. The Bulldogs have an excellent mix of talent and experience all over the field.
Yale, which finished 17-25 overall and 8-12 in Ivy play a year ago, opens the year next Tuesday by playing South Dakota and Holy Cross at the Rebel Games in Kissimmee, Fla. In all, the Bulldogs are scheduled to play 10 games in Florida before returning for their home opener on Mar. 15 against Central Connecticut. Ivy League play kicks off on Mar. 30 at Columbia.
Here is a look at the 2012 Bulldogs:
The left side of the Yale infield should be among the best in the Ivy League. Senior Meg Johnson at shortstop and junior Christy Nelson at third base have combined to play 200 games in their careers. Johnson was the second team All-Ivy shortstop last year after finishing eighth in the league with a .352 average. She is a career .340 hitter. Nelson led the team with six home runs, 28 RBI, 26 runs and two triples a year ago. With 10 homers in two years, Nelson already is more than halfway to the school record of 17.
Junior Jennifer Ong moves back to second base after seeing most of her time in right field last year. The transition to the outfield certainly didn't affect her at the plate. She set the Yale single season record with 16 doubles and finished third in the nation in doubles per game (0.38). In addition, she was the 39th most difficult batter to strike out in the nation. Junior Kelsey Warkentine brings plenty of experience to first base. As a freshman in 2010, she did not commit an error in 130 chances. Last year, she saw most of her time as the designated player and had a .403 slugging percentage, which was fourth on the team. In addition, she belted two home runs and knocked in 16 runs.
Freshman Hannah Brennan (Anacortes, WA) should also see time in the infield. She batted .475 with 39 RBI last year as a senior at Anacortes High School. Junior Liz Tutino, who has played in 38 games in her first two years, is battling an injury and may be limited this season.
Senior Virginia Waldrop returns as the starting left fielder. She started a career-high 27 games a year ago and knocked in nine runs, also a personal best. Waldrop, who made several highlight reel catches last year, has played in 78 games in her career. Sophomore Tori Balta made an immediate impact in her rookie year, earning honorable mention All-Ivy recognition. She started 40 games in centerfield and finished fifth on the team in runs (23) and sixth in hits (32). In Ivy games, she batted .321 with three doubles and eight RBI.
Versatile freshman Riley Hughes (Seattle, WA) is a strong candidate to start in the outfield as well. She was a two-time all-state selection at Holy Names Academy and batted .526 in 2010. Hughes also is capable of playing in the infield.
The Bulldogs must replace honorable mention All-Ivy selection McKynlee Westman '11. Fortunately there is a pair of qualified catchers to fill the void created by Westman's graduation. Freshman Sarah Onorato (North Reading, MA) brings strong credentials to New Haven. She batted .553 with a .588 on base percentage and a 1.021 slugging percentage as a senior at Phillips Academy Andover. In 2009, she was selected as the Boston Globe NEPSAC Player of the Year. Senior Chelsea Janes made the move to catcher last year and handled the transition flawlessly. Janes, a two-time recipient of the Andy Van Etten Coaches Award, had career highs in at bats (20), RBI (3) and runs scored (3) last year.
The Bulldogs welcome back three pitchers that saw time in the circle last year. The anchor of the staff is sophomore Chelsey Dunham, a second team All-Ivy selection last year. She led Yale in wins (11), ERA (3.25), innings (144.1), strikeouts (88) and complete games (16) and was fourth in the Ivy League in innings pitched and strikeouts. Her 88 strikeouts were the eighth most in a season in school history, her 11 wins tied for the ninth most and her 16 complete games tied for the sixth most. She was selected as the team's most valuable player.
The Bulldogs will be bolstered by the addition of freshman Kylie Williamson (Ferndale, WA). Williamson was a two-time first team all-conference and all-county selection at Ferndale High School. She had a 7-3 record with a 1.83 ERA as a senior.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity