Rutgers receives break from ranked foes against Maryland
For the 2016 Rutgers softball team, playing top-ranked opponents has shown through in its play these past few weeks.
The Scarlet Knights have lost six straight, getting outscored in those games 64-19.
Although those six games were against then-No. 24 Ohio State and No. 21 Minnesota, the Knights were unable to muster up any offense nor was able to slow down the bats of top-25 programs.
Fortunately for Rutgers, the team it will face Wednesday in a midweek doubleheader ranks one spot below it in the basement of Big Ten team ERA at 6.87.
Maryland have the worst overall record in the Big Ten at 11-30, but that won't make the Knights approach them any differently when they meet in College Park on Wednesday.
“We're just ready to go out and attack them like we’ve been trying to attack these last two teams,” said senior Dresden Maddox. “We're not going to change our approach because they're not top 25, we're gonna go at them like we went at the other teams.”
Things have been a little bumpy for the pitching staff that relies heavily on their senior ace Maddox and junior right-hander Shayla Sweeney, as they both rank No. 2 and 3 in ERA on the team.
Dresden Maddox has had her ERA rise to a 4.90 and Sweeney has seen her ERA shoot to a 4.91.
But in head coach Jay Nelson’s eyes, if mentally clearing these past two winless weekends is possible, Rutgers will be able to compete again and overcome adversity as its faced all season.
“We have to get ourselves out of this,” Nelson said. “We have to kind of clear ourselves of this mentally. If we can do that, I think we can compete.”
Although Maryland ranks last in the Big Ten in overall record, it does boast one more conference win than the Knights do, and they also rank eighth in overall batting average, three more spots higher than the Knights.
The Terps have one batter in the .400 range and four batters hitting .300 or better range.
For Rutgers, it'll have an opportunity to regain momentum entering its last home series of the year this weekend when the Hoosiers come to the banks for a three game set.
Even though the Knights have fallen eight games under .500, improvement, even if small, will help Rutgers for the upcoming midweek doubleheader.
“There’s always improvement, whether it's little where nobody can see it or huge,” said junior utility player Carly Todd. “But I think we always do improve in some way, even if it's something in the dugout we talk about as a team. But I would like to think its gonna help us for Maryland.”
If the Knights can propel themselves up with two wins Wednesday, that leaves them seven more winnable games before heading to Ann Arbor to face the No. 1 team in the nation.
But taking each day as they come separately is something pitcher Maddox and Rutgers is looking to try in do instead of trying to count wins and losses on paper.
“It would be great momentum,” Maddox said, referring to taking two games on Wednesday. “But we're trying to take it one game at a time, control our effort and attitudes so we can take that as it comes.”
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