Rutgers heads to New York for battle with LIU Brooklyn
On Wednesday, the Rutgers softball team will travel to Brooklyn with hopes of snapping its 11-game losing streak against a team it beat earlier in the season, LIU Brooklyn. The team has not won a game since March 31, a 4-2 victory over Penn State.
The last time the Scarlet Knights (17-26, 2-12) took on the Blackbirds (16-25, 5-6), they came away with a 4-1 victory in the Florida Atlantic Tournament back on March 11.
Sophomore Cambria Keefer threw a gem, pitching all seven innings, allowing only 1 run on three hits and four strikeouts. Junior infielder Jess Hughes chipped in with an RBI double.
Rutgers currently ranks No. 127 across all Division I teams, while LIU Brooklyn ranks No. 201 nationally, according to RPI. If there was ever a game for the Knights to get back on the winning track, this is it.
The Blackbirds, despite their record, are exceptional at hitting. As a team, they bat .291 collectively, and their lineup features six hitters who bat over .300. They are led by Nereyda Gutierrez, who leads the team in batting average (.388), home runs (5) and RBI’s (25).
Rutgers, who has faced a much stronger schedule compared to LIU Brooklyn, only bats .252 as a team, but it is worth taking strength of schedule into consideration, as the Knights have faced off against some superb pitching this season.
Where the Blackbirds struggle mightily is their pitching staff. They have a combined staff ERA of 6.19, a staff batting average against of .345 and not one pitcher on their roster has a winning record.
Although Rutgers’ pitching seems to have been its achilles heel all season, it still has better numbers compared to LIU Brooklyn's staff.
The Knights post a staff ERA of 4.99 and a batting average against of .331. Similar to the Blackbirds, not one pitcher on the Rutgers roster boasts a winning record.
The Knights are led at the plate by senior infielder Rebecca Hall, who leads the team in batting average (.372), hits (51), doubles (11), triples (six), RBI’s (36), total bases (92), slugging percentage (.672), on base percentage (.435) and is tied for the lead in home runs (6).
But, Hall isn’t the only one producing, as Hughes is batting .309 on the season with a .431 on base percentage. Sophomore infielder Nicole Bowman also has 6 home runs on the season, tied with Hall for most on the team.
Keefer should get the start on Wednesday from the circle based on her last effort against LIU Brooklyn, but she will need run support, so the Rutgers bats will need to be awake and ready to hit.
After the game Wednesday, the Knights will travel to East Lansing on Friday for a three-game road series against the Michigan State Spartans (17-24, 4-11).
For updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.