Rutgers travels down to Mexico for College Challenge
Knights to face 3 other teams at Puerto Vallarta
After going 2-3 in the Titan Classic at Cal State Fullerton to open up its season, the women of the Rutgers softball team will take a trip to Mexico to play a bevy of games in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
The Scarlet Knights will first take on Texas (2-2) on Thursday night at 6 p.m., then No. 3 Oregon (6-0) on Friday, before closing out the tournament with a doubleheader on Saturday against No. 15 Ole Miss (3-1) and Houston (3-1).
Coming off of an 11-5 win against Utah State in the team's last game of the Titan Classic, head coach Jay Nelson talked about some key players of the game.
“Whit pitched a great game and battled through,” Nelson said. “Collins also came in and did a great job to keep us in the game and allow us to win. It could have gone downhill after they took the 5-3 lead, but her teammates picked her up. Rebecca has been swinging the bat well all weekend, and she found her timing today. Every ball she hit was stung really hard."
Junior pitcher Whitney Jones earned a no-decision in the game, pitching four innings and allowing 3 earned runs. Freshman pitcher Taryn Collins earned her first collegiate win by pitching three innings and allowing 0 earned runs.
Senior first baseman Rebecca Hall had a phenomenal game at the plate, going 3-for-4 and being just a single shy of the cycle.
Some key stats of the weekend to look for heading into the Challenge come from Rutgers' play in the field on defense. Averaging 1.0 double plays per game ranks the Knights second in the nation in that category, and their .979 fielding percentage ranks them 35th overall.
"The infield has played really tough," Nelson said. "They are solid in every position and had each other's back. They really stuck together to come back today and take advantage of those opportunities. Sierra found her timing behind the plate throwing out a fast runner, as well."
Rutgers will certainly have its work cut out heading into this showcase, as it will take on two ranked opponents. One of those opponents is the No. 3 Ducks, who are currently undefeated and outscoring opponents 73-12 in their first six games, while the other are the No. 15 Rebels.
The team's other two opponents, the Longhorns and Cougars, are both solid squads as well. Houston, who is 3-1 thus far, lost its only game 5-4 against No. 6 Texas A&M. Texas, on the other hand, recently split a series with Wisconsin, winning the first game 5-1 before losing the second 7-3.
After playing in the Titan Classic this past weekend, the Knights got to enjoy a day of rest on Monday in Southern California with a trip to Disneyland before flying to Mexico on Wednesday.
After the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, Rutgers will return home before flying out to Kennesaw State in Georgia for the Bailey Memorial Tournament which begins on Feb. 23. There it will take on Kennesaw State, Florida A&M and Morehead State.
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