Rutgers visits Indiana for 3-game stint
Winning the last 7 of 8 games, the Rutgers softball team will keep the ball rolling as the Scarlet Knights (24-20, 8-9) head to Bloomington, Indiana to face Indiana on a three-game stint.
Rutgers is currently sitting at No. 6 in the Big Ten. This is its best conference standing since 2016.
This season, the Knights are under the new leadership of first-year head coach Kristen Butler, who previously had coaching stints in Florida (2007-2008), Mississippi Valley State (2011-2012), Charleston Southern (2013-2014) and Toledo (2015-2018). Her first head coach position was with the Rockets, in which she led the team to its best four-year performance since the 1990s, earning her the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year honor in 2018.
Last time out, Rutgers swept Maryland with a 4-1 win in the first game, followed by a comeback 7-6 victory in the second game.
The first game saw freshman catcher Penelope Russ record her first collegiate hit in her fourth plate appearance of the season in the fifth inning. Senior infielder Jess Hughes finally closed the book on a three-game hitless streak with a single and stolen base in the sixth. Bringing Hughes home was freshman infielder Aleah Marra, her 10th double of the year.
Junior infielder Nicole Bowman also came away from first game with her 100th collegiate hit that brought two Knights home for the final 4-1 score.
In the second game, Rutgers was down 6-0 going into the fifth inning, but that all changed beginning with sophomore infielder Myah Moy. With the Knights' first hit of the game, Moy logged Rutgers' first run as well thanks to Hughes’s 2-run single.
In the sixth, the Knights were back at it again with 3 runs from sophomore outfielder Erin Collins’s 2-run single that sent junior right-handed pitcher Cambria Keefer and Bowman home.
Collins tied up the score 6-6 with a mishandled ball from the Terrapins (20-25, 4-13) that led Collins to add a run from second base.
With an empty seventh inning, freshman catcher Katie Wingert scored the winning home run at the perfect time. Wingert hit down the left field line, bouncing off of the foul pole to clinch the doubleheader against Maryland.
On the defensive side, Bowman recorded 11 putouts, almost double the amount of any other Rutgers player. Wingert logged six putouts over the eight innings.
When the Knights were able to tie up the game at the end of the sixth, senior pitcher Whitney Jones was able to slow down the Terrapins, retiring nine batters in a row.
Next up, Rutgers goes on the road to play the Hoosiers (31-18, 6-11) over the weekend. Game times are as follows: Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Indiana is coming off of a three-game losing streak to Wisconsin, 0-5, 3-4 (13), 0-8 (5), and rank just below the Knights in the conference. With a 9-4 home record, the Hoosiers are sure to step up their game on its own field, but the Rutgers isn't ready to let up its winning streak.
To add to new coaching leadership, the Knights have a handful of freshmen that are bringing a breath of fresh air to the quickly improving team.
From Wingert’s game-winning home run to Marra’s go-ahead double, the underclassmen are staking their claim on the Banks and are huge contributors to rebuilding the Big Ten program.
Rutgers has an almost definite slot booked into the Big Ten Tournament during the second weekend of May. But, with just two conference matchups left, the Knights are looking for a last push up the ranks to secure the highest possible seed for the tournament.
If Rutgers wins against its last two Big Ten opponents — Indiana and Michigan State — it has the chance of putting itself within the top-five teams in the conference.
The highest seed the Knights ever achieved since joining the Big Ten was seventh in 2015, and the last time Rutgers made it into the tournament was in 2016.
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