Rutgers sweeps Stony Brook in doubleheader
The last time sophomore right-handers Dresden Maddox and Shayla Sweeney were in the circle was a time to forget.
In the second of three games at Purdue, Maddox started for the Rutgers softball team and was tagged for six runs on nine hits in three and one-third innings. Sweeney didn't fare much better in relief, surrendering five runs on four hits and handing out three free passes on walks in just one and two-thirds innings.
But when the first midweek series rolled around, Maddox and Sweeney were determined to redeem themselves.
The two underclassmen did just that.
Following Maddox's five-run, complete-game effort in the opening game at Stony Brook, Sweeney took her performance to the next level with a career game. Behind the second complete game of the day for the Scarlet Knights, Sweeney hurled nine strikeouts and limited the Seawolves to three hits on the way to a sweep in Long Island.
Sweeney got the nod in the second game against Stony Brook and got off to a fast start for Rutgers (16-9, 4-2), fanning the first three batters she faced. The sophomore continued that momentum throughout the game, whiffing batters constantly and getting outs when she needed them.
"From the first inning I noticed my drop and low stuff was working” Sweeney said. “I talked to my catcher and we figured it out and they were swinging and missing most of the game.”
But she admits she won’t be satisfied until she is able to become a more consistent pitcher on the mound week in and week out.
“Its a confidence booster, but I’m not going to let it get to my head,” Sweeney said. “I have to keep throwing what I did today in order to keep being successful.”
For the first time in a long time, Rutgers was puzzled at the plate and struggled to drive runners in.
But the Knights did not quit and got that much-needed run in the top of the sixth off of the bat of first baseman sophomore Bridget Carr, driving freshman designated hitter Rebecca Hall home.
“It gives us a lot of poise and resilience,” senior outfielder Jackie Bates said on hanging in late to hold off Stony Brook. “I know it could have gone either way but to hold them off shows our maturity."
Things got off to a fast start in the first game in Stony Brook, New York, as Rutgers won, 7-5.
Senior outfielder Jackie Bates came to the plate in the first inning and blasted her eight home run to give the Knights the 1-0 lead.
Next time up, she sent her ninth home run of the season over the fence, already matching her total from last year.
Bates has been lethal at the plate this season, batting .385 at the plate –– second-best on the team –– with a team-leading nine home runs and 21 runs batted in.
“I think it's experience, and getting used to the pressure of the level that we are playing at and being in those types of situations before," she said.
When it came down to getting the win, junior third baseman Jordan Whitley came up clutch.
She tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with a double, scoring Bates. The Clayton, Delaware, product hit her first ever career home run –– a two-run blast in the top of the seventh –– to separate Rutgers and give them some insurance runs.
Whitley leads the team in batting average, hitting a blistering .408, just one season removed from batting .218.
In the game, Maddox was able to get back on track, going the full seven innings to get the win after struggling this past weekend against Purdue.
She’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come.
“It definitely gives us confidence at the plate knowing our pitchers are there for us even if we don’t get the job done and we don’t score a run,” Bates said on the performances from Maddox and Sweeney. “We know we can go out the next few innings and they’ll hold up for us.”
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