Rutgers goes 6-5 over spring break
Over spring break, the Rutgers softball team played a total of 11 games, going 6-5 and improving its record to 15-14 on the season. The first bevy of games came at the Florida Atlantic Tournament from March 9-11.
In that tournament, the Scarlet Knights earned a 7-5 win over Pittsburgh, a 7-2 win over Texas-El Paso, and a 4-1 win over LIU Brooklyn, but lost to Stony Brook 5-2, and took a loss to Florida A&M 4-1.
In the 5-2 loss to the Seawolves, sophomore Cambria Keefer pitched four and two thirds innings, giving up 4 earned runs. Rutgers only strung together four hits in the game, two of which came from sophomore left fielder Hailey Hoklotubbe.
On Saturday of the tournament, the Knights played a double header against the Panthers and Rattlers, two teams they lost to earlier in the season. In game one against Pittsburgh, junior Whitney Jones earned the win in the circle, while senior catcher Sierra Maddox slashed three hits, one of which was a home run.
In game two, Keefer received the loss despite pitching well, going five and two thirds innings allowing only 1 earned run. The lone RBI in the game came from senior first baseman Rebecca Hall, who scored junior outfielder Nicolette Anico.
On the third and final day of the tournament, Rutgers closed things out with a sweep over the Miners and Blackbirds. Against Texas-El Paso, Jones pitched six dominant innings, only allowing 1 earned run. Left fielder Madyson Cole was 2-2 with three RBI's on the day, while the middle infield turned two double plays en route to a 7-2 victory.
The last game of the tournament featured a game against LIU Brooklyn, which the Knights won 4-1 behind Keefer’s complete game, where she allowed 1 run and struck out four. Hall was 2-3 with 2 runs scored in the game.
Although the tournament ended on Sunday, Rutgers remained in Florida for a game on Wednesday against Florida Atlantic. This game, which was a 15 inning marathon, saw the Knights come out victorious after the three hour and 15 minute battle.
Starting the game in the circle for Rutgers was Keefer, who pitched three innings and allowed 2 earned runs. Jones came on in relief for Keefer, who pitched an absurd 12 innings, allowing only 1 earned run on 149 pitches thrown.
A game that was knotted 2-2 after seven full innings, an RBI single from sophomore infielder Nicole Bowman that scored Hall put the Knights up by 1 in the top of the eighth, before the Owls tied the game back up in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the 12th inning, freshman infielder Myah Moy, who was 4-7 in the game, hit a solo home run to put Rutgers back up by 1 run. In the bottom half of the 12th, Florida Atlantic hit a solo home run of its own to knot the game back up at 4-4.
Three innings later, in the top of the 15th inning, freshman infielder Erin Collins singled to left center field, scoring Moy for what would go on to be the game winning run. Jones slammed the door in the bottom half of the 15th, ending the marathon game with a 5-4 win.
On March 16, the Knights traveled to Georgia to play five games in the Bear Classic at Mercer University. In game one of the tournament, Rutgers suffered a 5-1 loss to Bucknell. Jones got the loss in the circle, pitching five innings and allowing 4 earned runs. Senior infielder Meghan Wells had the lone RBI for the Knights, going 2-3 on the day.
In game 1 of 2 against host Mercer, home runs from Hall and Maddox were not enough to overcome the Bears, as Rutgers fell 6-3. But, in game two, it got revenge earning a 8-5 victory.
The Knights started the game with a bang, as junior infielder Jess Hughes and Hall hit back-to-back home runs batting first and second in the lineup. Hughes was 3-4 with 2 runs scored in the game. Freshman Taryn Collins earned the win, pitching five innings in relief and striking out five.
In the last two games of the Bear Classic, Rutgers lost to Austin Peay 7-0, and won a close revenge game against Bucknell, 10-9.
Against the Governors, the Knights had no answer for pitcher Kelly Mardones, who pitched all seven innings, allowing only four hits. Keefer moved to 5-7 on the season with the loss, allowing 4 earned runs in four innings in the circle.
In the final game of Rutgers’ weeklong spring break road trip, the Knights won 10-9 over the Bison, who beat them earlier in the tournament. Down by 5 runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Rutgers rallied to score 6 runs and complete the comeback win.
The walk off came from Maddox, who was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Bowman had a 3-run homer in the third inning, and Moy was 2-5 with two RBI's. Collins improved her record to 3-2 on the season from the circle, pitching the final three innings of the game.
After the 11 game road trip over spring break, the Knights are now above .500 heading into Big Ten play. Big Ten games begin this Friday, as Rutgers travels to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers (13-11) in a three game series.
The first homestand will begin on March 30, as the Knights will play three games against Penn State (3-18). Currently, Rutgers is ninth in the Big Ten ahead of conference play.
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