Rutgers drops three of five over opening weekend at University of California-Santa Barbara
With a trip out to southern California on the slate for the weekend, the Rutgers softball team couldn't wait.
As the rest of New Jersey froze over with below-freezing wind chill temperatures, the Scarlet Knights trekked out to Santa Barbara for their first taste of spring and a fresh start to the 2015 season.
But after an 8-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, Rutgers capped the Gaucho Classic by falling below .500 on the year.
Savannah King improved to 6-0 on the year for the Panthers (10-0), throwing seven innings and only sacrificing two runs on eight hits.
Senior left-hander Alyssa Landrith took the loss for the Knights (2-3), falling to 1-2 on the year. She surrendered five runs, leading to her exit after just three innings.
Prior to its loss in the finale, Rutgers split the first two days of doubleheaders against Santa Barbara and St. Mary’s.
The Knights able to avenge their day-one loss against the hosting the Guachos in an extra-inning thriller.
“It was a great game,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “It was back and forth the whole game.”
The Knights took advantage of two mistakes in the top of seventh inning after a double from senior left fielder Chandler Howard and a single from freshman first baseman Rebecca Hall. Howard scored on a wild pitch and Hall scored on a throwing error to give the Knights a 5-3 lead.
But in the bottom of the seventh, the Gauchos answered and tied it back up at 5-5.
Rutgers regained the lead in the top of the eighth as a result of another throwing error with junior Elizabeth Adams on base, putting the Knights up by a score of 6-5.
Despite running into a jam with runners on the corners and zero outs, Landrith stepped up when she needed to. The undoubted ace of the staff reached back and struck out the next two batters, followed by a routine groundout to shut it down and secure the win.
“We showed a lot of fight,” Howard said. “We went into our first extra inning game and we showed that we are a tough team and refused to back down. We started picking better pitches.”
In the second game, the Knights were not able to overcome St. Mary’s late push in the 5th and would ultimately fall 4-3.
On the first day, it was Santa Barbara that took the game from Rutgers by scoring all five of their runs in the fourth and fifth innings in a 5-3 win.
Landrith went the length of the game giving up 13 hits and five runs while striking out seven.
After an early 2-0 lead in the first, the bats went cold for the Knights. They were able to add one more run in the fourth, but they were only able to reach base seven times.
The Gauchos’ Alex Pingree pitched a great game, going seven innings and striking out five.
The second game was a different story for Rutgers as it earned its first victory on the year in a 3-2 win over St. Mary's.
Junior right-hander Dresden Maddox dominated her first start of the year, fanning a career-high eight batters and surrendering just two runs in a complete game effort.
“I think what it was for me is that I was going to do the best I possibly could,” Maddox said. “I was prepared and giving my best pitch for the next pitch I had to throw. I wasn’t thinking ahead for the next better. I stayed in that moment.”
Although the bats were quiet for the Knights, they were able to take advantage in the second inning, scoring all three of their runs.
Sophomore first baseman Bridget Carr was able to knock in two of their runs on a single. Adams added the third run on a throwing error.
Although the Gaels gave Rutgers a scare with a two-run seventh inning, Maddox was able to shut it down and cap off an impressive performance.
Since this weekend was not the ideal start for the Knights, Nelson is hoping on improving things going forward.
“We pitched pretty well but have to work on defense,” Nelson said. “Our hitting was okay, but our timing was a little off. That will come the more we play.”
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