Rutgers bats club Seton Hall in South Orange
In order to have a rivalry with another school, competition is expected to be present.
But the rivalry between the Rutgers softball team and Seton Hall has been an exclusively one-sided series in recent years.
On Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights charged up the Parkway to South Orange to take a 12-2 win in six innings for their 10th straight win over the Pirates.
After being swept and dominated this past weekend by then-No. 4 Michigan, Rutgers (21-12, 7-5) turned the page fast in a quick turnaround victory over the Seton Hall (17-21).
The combination of the past weekend's disappointing performance and the prospects of an in-state rivalry evidently fueled the Knights.
"I think the fact that we just got swept by Michigan, we just wanted to come out and win the next couple of games," said senior centerfielder Jackie Bates.
The team that took the field on Tuesday was a complete opposite from the one that took the RU Softball Complex in the past three games.
This was the team that resonated the prior seven-game winning streak.
“It was really good. We were hitting the ball pretty hard,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “It’s good to get back on track. We still have some work to do. It’s good to see us hitting today."
The Knights got off to a fast start, putting three runs on the board in the first inning on runs batted in by junior third baseman Jordan Whitley and shortstop Melanie Slowinski.
After struggling this past weekend, failing to get on base once and going 0-9 against the Wolverines, Bates looked to get off the schneid against Seton Hall and she delivered.
In the third inning, Bates smashed her 11th home run of the season to score two, extending the lead to 5-0. She later tacked on another after an RBI single.
On the day, Bates compiled a line of 2-for-3 with three RBI to extend her hitting streak to 15 games.
“I tried to take it one pitch at a time,” she said. “Against Michigan, I was getting in my head too much and probably worrying about things that I shouldn’t have.”
Rutgers went on to dominate the rest of the game scoring seven more runs to end the game after six innings.
Senior left fielder Chandler Howard added a two-run homerun in the winning effort. She led all Knights at the plate, going a perfect 3-for-3 with four runs and two RBI.
Nelson was pretty pleased with the effort of his defense especially carrying over from the series this past weekend.
On the pitching end of things, Nelson called on senior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (13-7) to take the ball on short rest. Landrith had thrown all seven innings of the Knights' series finale, a 5-0 loss to the Wolverines.
Originally, the plan was to start junior right-hander Dresden Maddox but that all changed on Monday when assistant coach Misty Beaver came to Nelson and said Landrith could go after a great recovery day on Monday.
“Yesterday, I really made sure that I recovered,” Landrith said. “I went out in with my trainer and I made sure that I would be ready for today."
She didn’t show any wear and tear and was able to go five innings, striking out seven batters and reestablishing her dominance on the season.
While Nelson tries to keep his past at Seton Hall separate, he admitted getting the win today was bittersweet especially when it comes to recruiting in New Jersey.
“I try to separate myself from my days there (at Seton Hall),” he said. “It’s a game and you try to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, especially with in-state recruiting on the line. Hopefully, if they were watching this game, they pick us."
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