Rutgers rewrites record book with historic comeback win over Michigan State
While the Rutgers softball team accomplished a sweep on Sunday against Michigan State, the game that will resonate with fans the most will be the leg of the doubleheader— a thrilling 22-17 victory.
It was a contest in which the team made history.
The Scarlet Knights scored the most runs in a game since 1977 when they chalked up 26 against the City College of New York.
The developments made throughout the game are even more surprising. With a 9-1 lead entering the fourth inning, the Knights appeared to have the game in the bag.
“'Let’s eight-run them,' I heard from a couple of players on the bench,” head coach Jay Nelson said. “I thought to myself, 'No, no, don’t say that.'”
Unfortunately for Nelson, the jinx was on. Within the blink of an eye, Rutgers' lead was erased.
The Spartans scored 16 times in the top half of the inning to take a 17-9 lead.
“We didn’t let it get us down,” said junior shortstop Melanie Slowinski. “We stayed in and fought. We had the bats to make the come back.”
Slowinski was right.
The Knights would have the last laugh, though. They went on to score the final 13 runs of the game, displaying a refusal to give up or give in.
Although Slowinski was the only one without a hit at the plate on the day, her teammates picked her up with 22 hits to match Rutgers' scoring output in the game.
One stat line that stood out belonged to senior centerfielder Jackie Bates.
Bates went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and a career-high eight runs batted in (RBI). Sophomore right fielder Carly Todd also impressed, going 3-for-5 with three RBI.
“I’ve never been apart of a game like this,” Nelson said. “It had a little bit of everything, but 16 runs in one inning? That’s crazy — but I’m proud of the fight my girls showed. We have had the hitting all season and it showed.”
This sort of game can be very telling for a team. This game showed that when the Knights have their backs against the wall, they will fight in their pursuit of a comeback.
The game could have ended in an historic collapse and negativity, but Rutgers turned it around and made it about the players and how they were able to persevere to get the win.
Although she did not get a taste of the action after pitching the previous game and getting the first win of the series, senior Alyssa Landrith was thoroughly impressed by her team's performance.
“A team that scores 16 runs in an inning — it’s easy to deflate, but we stuck with it and had the confidence in ourselves to get it done,” she said. “It definitely gives me even more confidence taking the mound, knowing I have that support there for me.”
Landrith’s counterpart, sophomore Shayla Sweeney started the game for Knights and she was in the circle for the onslaught that ensued in the fourth inning, eventually getting pulled by Nelson after four and one third.
After junior right-hander Dresden Maddox and sophomore left-hander Aubrie Levine struggled to get a grip on things, Nelson called on Sweeney to re-enter the circle.
Calm and composed, she delivered two scoreless innings to end the game. Her final stat line was six and one-third innings, giving up five runs on ten hits.
While the game will be etched in history for Rutgers, it won’t be surprising to see the team continue to break records.
Although they’ve had seven games cancelled this season, with 21 games left on the schedule, the Knights have a chance to break into the top-three of almost every team-batting statistic, including highest batting average, most runs scored, most hits, most doubles, most homeruns and most runs batted in.
Rutgers looks to continue its strong start to the season by extending its six-game win streak on Wednesday against Princeton at home.
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