Rutgers returns to win column in Maryland
In order for a team to reach the Big Ten Tournament, a team must place in the top 12 of its conference.
For the Rutgers softball team, winning both games on the road against Maryland gave it a slight lead over the Terrapins in the standings and a spot in the top 12 for the Scarlet Knights to control their own destiny throughout the remaining three weeks of the season.
The Knights (20-36, 4-10) defeated Maryland (11-32, 3-11) in both games of a doubleheader Wednesday evening.
Rutgers took game one by a score of 4-0 and won game two by a score of 6-3.
Senior Dresden Maddox took the circle in game one, tossing a complete game shutout, dominating the opposing offense by limiting them to only four hits.
“Dresden came out and shut them out in the first game," said head coach Jay Nelson."That was huge.”
The Knights drew blood first in the third inning, scoring 2 runs off one hit and one error.
Senior Stephanie Huang got things started singling up the middle. Freshman Nicolette Anico then reached base on an error and advanced to third while Huang scored. Senior Melanie Slowinski would fly out to right field, driving in Anico and giving Rutgers an early 2-0 lead.
In the top of the sixth, the Knights added to their lead with a run on two hits.
Sophomore Sierra Maddox singled to left field with one out in the sixth inning. Senior Jordan Whitley then advanced her to second via a sacrifice bunt before senior Elizabeth Adams advanced pinch runner Jacqueline Kott by singling to second base, and then Kott scored while interference was called against Maryland, giving Rutgers a 3-0 lead after six.
Maddox would continue to pitch a stellar game following her teams' success at the plate by closing out the bottom part of the sixth unscathed.
Freshman Allie Yoffee hit a leadoff solo shot in the top of the seventh to make the Knights' lead the final score at 4-0.
In game two of the doubleheader, Rutgers took care of business once again, defeating the Terrapins by a score of 6-3.
Junior Shayla Sweeney entered the circle for Rutgers, pitching a total of five innings and allowing three runs.
Rutgers struck first again by putting up a run in the second thanks to sophomore Sierra Maddox’s home run, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Maryland would tie the game up in the third by a sacrifice fly by Kristina Dillard, sending home a runner to tie the game at 1-1 after three innings off play.
It wouldn’t be long before the Knights would regain the lead as they scored 3 runs off of three hits and one error in the top part of the fourth.
A 2-run home run in the fifth by Lindsey Schmeiser would cut the deficit to one and make the score 4-3 in Rutgers' favor.
A 2-run double in the seventh by senior Melanie Slowinski would eventually be all for both teams as the Knights beat Maryland by a score of 6-3 and takes over the Terps 12th spot in the Big Ten Conference.
Although Rutgers wasn’t facing another ranked team, Nelson said after Wednesday's game that no matter who the opponent is, they need to play court best to win.
“I want us to play our best game,” Nelson said. “If it’s the worst team or the best team. That’s our goal, that’s what we preach. We're out there to win games, we don’t talk about where we are in the standings. What we talk about is executing our plays.”
Winning the two games Wednesday was huge for Rutgers. After defeating Maryland in the first game, both teams were deadlocked at three wins in conference play each.
“Definitely,” Dresden Maddox said, referring to playing extra motivated in the two games. “We did not want to leave without winning those two games.”
Slowinski led the stat sheet for the Knights on Wednesday, going a total of 3-for-6 with three RBI’s and scoring a run.
“Dresden did an excellent job pitching,” Slowinski said. “So it was kinda easy having the momentum from her.”
With only 10 more games remaining and nine of them being against conference opponents, Rutgers can smell a Big Ten Tournament approached
With Indiana visiting the Banks this upcoming weekend, the Knights feel their momentum will help them get the magic number of six wins in what remains of conference play.
“I think we need to keep making contact on the ball,” Slowinski said. “If we continue practicing getting reps we'll be good going into this weekend. I think our momentum will carry us pretty well, just clean up a few things and I think well be okay.”
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