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Rutgers' woes in Cali continue

<p>While Rutgers continues its search to establish consistency in the young season, senior outfielder Jackie Bates has found her groove for the Knights early on at the plate.</p>

While Rutgers continues its search to establish consistency in the young season, senior outfielder Jackie Bates has found her groove for the Knights early on at the plate.

For the second time in a month, the Rutgers softball team went out to California. And for the second time in, they underwhelmed and returned to the east coast with another inconsistent performance.

In the last game of the Fresno State Tournament against Oregon State (15-5), the Scarlet Knights jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to junior third baseman Jordan Whitley’s RBI single, scoring senior center fielder Jackie Bates. From that point on, the Beavers took over the game scoring the next eight runs, including four runs in the bottom of the fourth.

The whole complexion of the game was changed when the umpires called six illegal pitches on senior pitcher Alyssa Landrith, which led head coach Jay Nelson to pull her.

Despite a late rally by the Knights in the seventh inning, the Beavers held on for an 8-3 win in the tournament finale.

Senior outfielder Chandler Howard had her hit streak snapped after recording a hit in the first eight game, but her ability to play well is what pushes Bates to strive and do better.

“I think that we like to feed off each other,” Bates said. “We like to compete with each other and do the best that we can. It motivates me. It really helps the two of us. The rest of the team looks to us and feeds off the energy that we bring.”

On the second day of the tournament, Rutgers faced Santa Barbara (4-14) for the third time this season and dominated the Gauchos to take the season series, 2-1.

The Knights won the game 12-1 in five innings after pounding out 14 hits. Five players had two hits or more in the game. Howard led the way going 3-for-4 with two RBI, Bates went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Whitely who was 3-for-3 with three RBI.

“(Jackie) Bates came alive and upped her batting average,” Nelson said. “Chandler Howard is on fire. Jordan Whitley is hitting the ball really well. She has stepped up and really (helped) carry the team.”

After struggling the day before, junior pitcher Dresden Maddox (2-1) came back and dominated. In five innings from the circle, she yielded just two hits and one run.

The second game of the day against St. Mary’s was cancelled due to weather conditions and will not be rescheduled.

On the first day of the tournament, the Knights came out with mixed performances. They were dismantled by Fresno State (13-4), 14-1, after having an impressive showing against St. Mary’s just hours before. Against the Gaels (5-10), Rutgers pulled out a 4-0 victory.

Maddox got the hook from Nelson after one and two-thirds innings pitched after surrendering seven hits and seven runs. It was a struggle for Rutgers' pitchers in the contest, as pitchers Shayla Sweeney and Aubrie Levine failed to stop the bleeding. The pair of sophomores surrendered seven more combined runs leading to the game ending after five innings due to the mercy rule.

The Knights managed one run on five hits.

In the first game of the tournament, Rutgers looked to be in for a big showing after they were able to shut out St. Mary’s, 4-0, behind Landrith’s arm.

“She hit her spots and all her pitches were working,” Nelson said. “The more you pitch, the better you get at that stuff. Her off-speed was working well, too.”

Landrith tossed the 22nd shutout of her career and went the distance, surrendering just four hits. She is now two shutouts away from second place in the school record book and six away from the all-time strikeouts record.

Landrith also moved up to three wins away from third all-time with her start.

“I was able to change speed, pitches and locations well,” Landrith said. “(Junior catcher Elizabeth Adams) and I were really on the same page in the first game. It’s my job to keep the score low. It definitely nice to have such a cushion when the team is hitting and bats are flowing. ”

After struggling one week earlier, Bates was able to regain her form this tournament, starting it 3-for-3 on Friday with an RBI.

“I felt a lot more comfortable at the plate this weekend,” Bates said. “I saw the ball better, and we already played two of the teams and everything was the same, so we knew what to expect from their pitchers.”

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

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