Knights bring ace pitching to Florida
Still confined to indoor facilities in the Louis Brown Athletic Center and the Bubble across from High Point Solutions Stadium, the Rutgers softball team is relishing the chance to play outside.
The Scarlet Knights (3-2) begin another five-game tournament tomorrow in Clearwater, Fla., beginning with a doubleheader against James Madison (5-5) and Charleston (3-4).
Rutgers will then take on DePaul (7-3) and Massachusetts (0-0) on Saturday, followed by Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday morning. The Ragin’ Cajuns currently hold a 6-3-1 record after breaking even at the Louisiana Classic with two wins, two losses and a tie.
Louisianna-Lafayette fared better at a tournament it hosted with a 4-1 record. Its one loss was a lopsided 15-1 defeat at the hands of Michigan.
The Knights spent last week at the UTSA Tournament in San Antonio, winning their last two games.
“It’s great. We were all really excited to get on the dirt and be playing together,” said junior lefthander Alyssa Landrith. “All the hard work and practice leading up to it really paid off, and we’re feeling great going into this weekend.”
Landrith opened the season in the circle for the Knights with a 4-2 loss against Colorado State last Friday morning.
The Knights were one strike away from a victory before the Rams rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“She had them shut out,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “She handled them going into the seventh. She actually got what she needed, she got a ground ball to end the game but we could not throw her out in time. That’s the name of the game.”
She would redeem herself Sunday by giving up one hit in a complete game shutout of UTSA.
“I’m really in tune with my catcher [sophomore Elizabeth Adams], both of those games,” she said. “It felt good to throw the one-hitter.”
The Knights also go into their doubleheader tomorrow against James Madison and Charleston looking like a team with noticeably more power than they had last season.
In five games in San Antonio, they hit five home runs.
“Strength and conditioning is a big focus for us,” said senior first baseman Alexis Durando. “The thing about that is last year we hit a decent amount of home runs, but I feel like every we’re getting stronger and the home runs are going to go up.”
Durando went yard in the 5-0 win over UTSA.
Junior outfielder Chandler Howard leads the team with two home runs and outfielders Jackie Bates and Loren Williams added one each.
“Of course I’m not trying to hit home runs, but the power is coming from our strength and practice,” Durando said.
Nelson was proud of the team’s offense even in the losses.
“I was also really encouraged with the way we hit the ball. Even against Oklahoma State we hit the ball, we just didn’t score a lot of runs,” he said.
The Knights fell to the Cowboys, 8-1.
Landrith also was encouraged by the run support she received.
“I trust fully in my hitters,” she said. “They’re strong all the time. I knew they would come together and string some hits together.”