April 24, 2019 | 63° F

Rutgers back at .500 after strong 4-1 record over weekend

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Last weekend, the Rutgers softball team won 4 out of 5 games at the Pirate Invitational in Hampton, Virginia to improve its season record to .500 at 9-9. The Scarlet Knights’ only loss in the tournament came in extra innings against North Dakota. 

In the first game, Rutgers squared off against Maryland Eastern Shore, which it won in deciding fashion, 7-0. In the game, sophomore pitcher Cambria Keefer improved to 3-2 on the season in the circle, pitching 6 out of 7 innings, allowing only five hits and striking out two. Freshman Taryn Collins closed out the seventh inning.

At the plate, the Knights scored 7 runs on seven hits, with five of those hits coming from junior shortstop Jess Hughes and senior first baseman Rebecca Hall. Hughes was 3-4 on the day with two RBI’s, two doubles and a home run, while Hall was 2-3 with two RBI’s and a double of her own.

In the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, Rutgers played host team Hampton, which it beat in a 12-8 slugfest. All three of the Knights’ pitchers struggled in the game, leaving it up to the offense to get the job done, which is exactly what they did, scoring 12 runs on 13 hits. 

It was the usual suspects who got the job done at the plate for Rutgers, with Hall and sophomore infielder Nicole Bowman each having a pair of hits, including a triple for Hall. Hughes also stayed hot in the first day of the tournament, delivering another home run and going 2-4 from the plate with 3 runs scored. 

"I thought they battled through a tough situation with the wind and put together two great games," said head coach Jay Nelson, according to scarletknights.com. "It was great to get Jess going. That was the goal of moving her down in the order, to get her to see some better pitches, and it was exactly what she needed."

On day two of the Invitational, the Knights had another doubleheader, playing the Fighting Hawks first and then the Pirates again. In the first of two games, Rutgers dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to North Dakota in eight innings of play.

Keefer was dazzling from the mound in this one, pitching a shutout through seven innings before surrendering the winning run in the bottom half of the eighth inning to the Hawks on a walk-off single. 

For North Dakota, Kaylin VanDomelen was equally spectacular, pitching a full eight innings while striking out nine Knights and only allowing four hits in the contest. 

Two of Rutgers’ four hits came from Hall — her double in the top half of the eighth inning was the Knights’ lone RBI in the game. 

In game two of the doubleheader on Saturday, Rutgers played host team Hampton for the final time in the Invitational. The Knights earned the sweep of the Pirates with a 9-5 victory. 

Junior pitcher Whitney Jones improved to 3-4 on the season with her win from the circle, pitching five full innings, allowing 3 earned runs and striking out four. Bianca Vozenilek closed it out for Rutgers pitching the final two innings. 

Hall was a perfect 4-4 on the day, adding four RBI’s on a double and triple. Freshman second basemen Myah Moy was also 2-4 with a run scored and an RBI. The Knights had five extra base hits in the victory.

In the final game of the Invitational on Sunday, Rutgers had a chance to avenge its extra inning loss the day before to North Dakota, which they did in deciding fashion, 8-2. 

Keefer improved to 4-3 on the season from the circle, pitching five and one third innings, while only allowing 1 earned run and striking out six. Freshman pitcher Bianca Vozenilek came in yet again to close the game out for the Knights. 

At the plate, Hall, Bowman and senior infielder Meaghan Wells all had multi-hit, RBI filled days. Bowman was 2-3 on the day with four RBI’s, which included a 3-run blast. 

Throughout the entirety of the weekend, Hall hit .632 (12-19) and slugged 1.000 (three doubles, two triples) with 11 RBI's in all five games of the Pirate Invitational. After the weekend, Hall’s average sits at .467 with 24 total RBI’s. 

Rutgers will travel to Boca Raton, Florida next weekend to compete in the Parents' Weekend Tournament at Florida Atlantic. There it will play Stony Brook, Texas-El Paso and LIU Brooklyn, as well as getting rematches with Florida A&M and Pittsburgh. 

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

Matthew Howe

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