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Rutgers anticipates season's first midweek series

<p>In order to collect a sweep in the first midweek games of the year April 1, junior shortstop Melanie Slowinski said the Knights need to keep their composure on defense.</p>

In order to collect a sweep in the first midweek games of the year April 1, junior shortstop Melanie Slowinski said the Knights need to keep their composure on defense.

On March 25 and 26, the Rutgers Softball team had its two midweek games cancelled due to inclement weather.

Wednesday of this week against Stony Brook (9-8), the Scarlet Knights hope the weather holds.

Facing the Seawolves in a doubleheader at 3 p.m., the Knights (14-9) look to power through their first midweek series of the season.

“Well, this (series) is difficult because it takes over two hours to get there,” Nelson said. “It will probably be the last time we play them in a midweek because the girls miss a lot of school and it puts them in a tough position as far as academics go.”

Asked whether or not it would hurt or help, Slowinski said the extra play can be beneficial.

“I don’t think it can ever really hurt us,” she said. “The more you play, the better you get, the more at-bats you can see. There’s different pitchers you see and it all benefits in a way.”

Senior left-hander Alyssa Landrith agreed, saying it’s the type of situations training is meant for.

Rutgers looks to continue its momentum from the past few weeks of play, taking both weekends against Indiana and Purdue. 

But the Knights' skipper doesn’t want the team to get ahead of itself.

“You know the old saying about momentum?” Nelson joked. “It’s as good as your next day's pitching. I like our chances if we keep scoring a lot. Our last game was the first time we were held to under two runs in a while. We just have to stay after them and stay focused and we will get the result we want."

In preparation for the game, the team will go through it’s usual off day and have Tuesday practice. Although the starters won’t be announced until Wednesday after assistant coach Misty Beaver gives Nelson a good idea of who to throw, Landrith will likely start one of the two.

Landrith is coming off a weekend where she earned Big Ten Softball Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing 17 innings of shutout ball against the Boilermakers. 

She thinks the team will continue its strong push of late.

“I think that we are going to come out strong and dominant like we always do,” Landrith said. “That recovery day will be good for us, but we will sharpen up in practice and be ready for the game on Wednesday. We just have to carry momentum in to this midweek stand and into the next weekend.”

As always, how to go about keeping arms ready for pitching is the topic of conversation for the Knights. Nelson said he wants to extract the best performances out of them in each appearance.

“I don’t want to stress out any one pitcher in the series, but we are trying to get two wins,” Nelson said. “The more games we win, the better chance we have of getting an at-large bid. We need to keep winning these series and win a couple of games for the tournament. Our goal is to get to the regionals and make some noise there."

Prior to the doubleheader on Wednesday, the Seawolves will have a doubleheader on Tuesday against Columbia. With four games in a tightened window of two days, the Knights may be able to catch their opponents at the right time.

But for Rutgers to capitalize on that advantage, the defense will have to remain polished. Like any team, the Knights struggle when they make errors in the field or have mental lapses.

“You have to put it in the past and move forward because dwelling on mistakes — there is nothing you can do about it,” said junior shortstop Melanie Slowinski. “You just have to move forward. You know how to field, you know how to hit — you just have to correct it and take a better approach."

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

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