Rutgers sinks Seton Hall for 3rd straight win
The Rutgers softball team has had in-state rival Seton Hall’s number over the past five seasons, with the Scarlet Knights taking eight straight wins over that span.
When the teams met on Wednesday afternoon at the Rutgers Softball Complex, the Knights continued with their dominance over their old Big East foe from South Orange.
Behind a complete-game, six-strikeout effort from senior pitcher Dresden Maddox, Rutgers (18-20) took down Seton Hall (19-19) 6-2, in a game it never trailed.
Sophomore catcher Sierra Maddox supplied the Knights with the only 3 runs they would need on a day where her sister Dresden was spinning a gem in the circle, with a 3-run home run to help secure their third straight win.
“Dresden was really good,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “She started off throwing strikes, I think she had four strikeouts in the first two innings. She pitched really well. I thought we could’ve score a little bit more … We were good on defense, it was tricky with the wind … We did what he had to do today.”
Sierra Maddox entered the game riding a hot streak with hits in 5 of her last 10 at bats and she continued it in her first at bat on Wednesday.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Maddox belted a 3-run home run to left field to get Rutgers on the board first with a 3-0 lead. For Maddox, it was her team-leading sixth long ball of the season and her third in the last three games.
“Just working hard in practice,” Sierra Maddox said of the cause of her and the team’s recent hot streak. “Just everyone taking a lot of cuts in practice, the whole team being supportive of everybody and just trying to work hard together and contribute in any way that we can to the team.
In the Knights' next time at the plate, senior catcher Elizabeth Adams was on third base with two outs when Seton Hall's pitcher, Madison Strunk, delivered an illegal pitch to sophomore infielder Rebecca Hall. The infraction allowed Adams to advance a base and score, increasing Rutgers' advantage to 4-0.
After Strunk was able to keep the Knights off the board for an entire inning for the first time in the third, Rutgers' offense fired right back in the fourth.
With one out in the inning, senior infielder Stephanie Huang reached on a double to center field. Strunk was able to retire freshman outfielder Nicolette Anico in the subsequent at bat, but with two outs, Hall drove in Huang with an RBI single.
Dresden Maddox cruised through the first four innings, recording four strikeouts and only allowing three hits, but in the top half of the fifth, the Pirates were finally able to solve her.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the frame, Yasmin Harrell roped a 2-RBI double to left to get Seton Hall on the board and draw its deficit to 5-2.
But Dresden Maddox buckled down and forced the next batter, Alexis Walkden, into a groundout to second base to end the inning and keep the damage at 2 runs.
The Knights would get a run back in the bottom of the sixth by way of another two-out hit from Hall, this time in the form of a pulled line drive RBI double down the right file line to score Huang. Hall and Huang each finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate, with Hall knocking in Huang twice.
Back in the circle, Dresden Maddox settled down and retired the final six batters of the game to cap off her 16th career complete game and improve to 7-7 on the season.
In the same game she recorded her 200th career strikeout, Maddox finished with a line of seven innings pitched, 2 runs on six hits, one walk and six punch outs.
“It’s a good confidence booster 'cause we’re starting to come together as a team well,” Hall said of the win over Seton Hall. “So that’s always good to see.”
Following a quick break from Big Ten action with its game against Seton Hall, Rutgers will get right back to conference play this weekend.
The Knights welcome No. 24 Ohio State (20-8-1, 5-1-1) to the Rutgers Softball Complex for a three-game set beginning on Friday.
Last season, the Buckeyes took 2 of 3 games from Rutgers when the two programs met in Columbus.
Ohio State will be a strong test for the Knights early in conference play, but regardless of the outcome, Nelson just wants to continue to see improvement from his ball club on a game-by-game basis.
“What we try to focus on is each game," Nelson said. "The little things are the things that we work on and try to improve upon. No matter what happens in a game, you want to get better at the end of the season so that we can make the tournament and compete.”
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