March 24, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers prepares for another tournament down in Florida

Now with a .500 record for the first time all season, the Rutgers softball team will head to Boca Raton, Florida to play in the Florida Atlantic Tournament this weekend.

In the tournament, the Scarlet Knights (9-9) will play five different teams in Stony Brook (4-6), Texas-El Paso (10-12), LIU Brooklyn (6-13) and two teams who Rutgers can earn revenge on — having already suffered losses earlier in the season to Pittsburgh (10-6-1) and Florida A&M (3-6). 

Back in the first tournament of the season, the Titan Classic at Cal State Fullerton, the Knights suffered a 6-2 loss to the Panthers. 

Sophomore pitcher Cambria Keefer got the loss in the game, pitching four innings, giving up five hits and 4 earned runs, but her infielder classmate Nicole Bowman had a solo home run in the game for Rutgers. 

During the Bailey Memorial Tournament at Kennesaw State, the Knights suffered a tough 4-3 loss at the hands of the Rattlers. 

Freshman pitcher Taryn Collins received the loss for Rutgers, pitching one and one third innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on three hits. Senior first baseman Rebecca Hall was a perfect 4-4 on the day, hitting a home run, a triple and knocking in two RBI’s. 

The first game of this weekend's tournament will come against the Seawolves of Stony Brook. The Seawolves are hitting .275 on the season as a team, which is better than the Knights’ mark of .246. Stony Brook is not much of a power team, as it has hit only 1 home run this season compared to Rutgers’ 10 long balls. 

After playing a doubleheader on Saturday against Pittsburgh and Florida A&M, the Knights will close the tournament with another doubleheader on Sunday against the Miners and Blackhawks. 

Texas-El Paso is a phenomenal hitting squad, with a team average of .290, hitting 15 home runs and knocking in 87 RBI’s. It struggles from the circle, with a team ERA of 4.99 compared to Rutgers’ team ERA of 3.71. 

The Miners also have five players hitting .300 or above, while the Knights only have one in Hall, who is batting .467. 

LIU Brooklyn struggles mightily from the circle, having a team ERA of 5.96 and a 6-13 combined pitching record. It also allows opponents to bat .356 off of it, a promising sign for a Rutgers team who bats below .250 as a team. 

As of Monday, the Knights lead the nation in double plays per game (0.89 per game), which has been a huge help to their pitchers.

Head coach Jay Nelson weighed in on Rutgers’ success turning two.

"Our double plays are attributable to our strength up the middle with shortstop Jess Hughes and second baseman Myah Moy's soft, quick hands and strong arms," Nelson said, according to "Our alertness is the other key. For instance, we had a 4-3-5 and 4-3-2 double play this past weekend. On both plays, Becca has to make perfect throws to third and home to get the runners trying to advance on the putout at first base."

After the tournament ends on Sunday, the Knights will stay in Boca Raton until Wednesday, where they will play Florida Atlantic (11-10) at 6 p.m. 

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

Matthew Howe

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