July 23, 2019 | 67° F

Rutgers anticipates bounceback game midweek against Seton Hall

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After a weekend series that saw it lose in blowout fashion to a powerhouse, the Rutgers softball team hopes to get back on track with another midweek non-conference game.

The Scarlet Knights (9-24, 1-5) don’t have to travel far for their next matchup as they take on in-state rival Seton Hall (16-13-1, 3-3) Wednesday in South Orange, the last of 34 straight games on the road to open the season. The Pirates are coming off taking two out of three wins from fellow Big East member DePaul in Chicago over the weekend.

Last time Rutgers played a midweek game, it was coming off losing two of three games to Indiana to start off Big Ten play, but bounced back with an 11-5 win at Hofstra. They will be looking for similar results today.

The Knights definitely need a bounce-back game after being swept at the hands of No. 25 Ohio State this past weekend, a series in which they only scored 3 runs and lost all three games by run rule. Head coach Jay Nelson outlined what the team needed to focus on during practice.

“We’ll work on who’s the cutoff man in certain situations because we missed some this past weekend,” he said. “We’ll give our pitchers a work out, although Shayla (Sweeney) will probably go Wednesday. We had a lot of our pitchers throw this weekend, so they’ve all gotten a good workout."

Freshman pitcher Cambria Keefer also added her own input to how the team will practice.

“We’ll probably work on first-and-third situations on defense as well as hitting for the Seton Hall pitching,” she said.

The Pirates have a team ERA of 4.17 and have six pitchers who have won a game, as opposed to Rutgers who just has two. Since this is a game and not a series, Rutgers might not know what to expect when they step into the batter’s box.

While the Knights pitching staff took a beating over the last three games, Nelson likened them to Don Larsen, the only pitcher to throw a perfect game in the World Series.

“He got knocked out the box in the first inning in the second game, and then he came back and threw a perfect game,” he said. “If we focus on doing what we’re supposed to do, like hitting our spots and changing speeds, that’s the key to the game. And with such a young pitching staff other than Shayla, sometimes they forget that. One person hits them hard and they’re not as confident. We need to work on that.”

Despite the results against the Buckeyes, Rutgers still has a consistent offense, especially at the top of the lineup. Nelson said that his first four hitters are batting very well, with the exception of whoever is batting second. He plans on putting left fielder sophomore Nicolette Anico in that spot against the Pirates. He also emphasized getting better production out of the bottom of the lineup.

At the top of that lineup sits freshman second baseman Taryn Atlee, who leads the team with 108 at-bats, a .408 batting average and 44 hits. In addition, she is second with 24 runs scored. She discussed her role as a table-setter for the hitters behind her.

“As a leadoff hitter, my role is to get on base and have the batters behind me hit me home, and they do a good job,” Atlee said.

After suffering three blowouts last weekend, the Knights are ready to right the ship before finally coming home.

“Getting better is a learning process, and I think we’re going to go in, take what we need to work on and apply it to our games,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll come out with a win.”

For updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Jordan Farbowitz

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