Knights lack power in Fla. tournament
The Rutgers softball team left the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic on Sunday with two wins in five games, as the Scarlet Knights could not find the power they showed the previous weekend.
Junior centerfielder Jackie Bates hit the Knights’ sole home run in Clearwater, Fla.
Last weekend, Rutgers (5-5) went deep five times, leading to three wins.
“Last year, Coach Nelson had me batting a little earlier in the lineup and now he has me batting fifth,” she said. “As the fifth batter, they will throw you a lot more pitches as opposed to when you are the third or fourth batter. A lot of times they will throw you junk pitches.”
Bates’ performance earned her the tournament’s MVP award as well as a spot on the AAC’s weekly honor roll. She hit 7-for-16 with three doubles and nine RBIs during the weekend.
“She’s been hitting the ball real well all spring,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “The nicer thing is we have people in front of her and behind her that are hitting. The top-four batters are doing a pretty good job.”
The Knights threatened No. 22/20 Louisiana-Lafayette (9-5-1) on Sunday in the bottom of the seventh inning, down, 4-3.
With sophomore second baseman Stephanie Huang representing the tying run on first base, senior first baseman Alexis Durando grounded out to third to end the game.
Earlier in the game, Durando drove in two runs with a single to put the Knights on the board. She also walked in the second inning.
Freshman righthander Aubrie Levine started her first collegiate game but was pulled after giving up two runs in the first inning.
Appearing in relief, junior lefthander Alyssa Landrith pitched six innings, allowing just four hits and two earned runs in a losing effort.
“I was hopefully going to stay close and bring her in, but I brought her in real early,” Nelson said. “She pitched six innings and they beat us in the seventh. If I started her it might have been a different story because she pitched a full game anyway.”
Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher Jordan Wallace earned the complete game win.
The Knights had a better result earlier in the day with an 11-3 win against the College of Charleston (5-7).
Bates hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning before Rutgers’ offense exploded in the third with five runs.
The run support was promising to starting sophomore righty Dresden Maddox.
“When their bats are hot, which they have been pretty much every game, it does take a lot of pressure off in the circle,” Maddox said. “If I were to have a game where I gave up a big hit, I know my offense can pick me up, and they have so far.”
Originally scheduled for Friday evening, the game was postponed because of inclement weather.
Rutgers also split two games Saturday with a 3-0 win against Massachusetts (1-4) and a 10-6 loss to DePaul (11-4).
Landrith shined against UMass, striking out 11 while giving up only three hits in a complete game.
After reaching first base on an error, senior right fielder Loren Williams crossed the plate on a passed ball with two outs in the third.
Landrith allowed four earned runs and six hits in six innings pitched in Friday’s 5-2 loss to James Madison (8-7).
The Knights could not hold on to an early 1-0 lead and had only one hit after the fourth inning.
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