By Michael Battista
The softball team continued its impressive season, facing off against two Rutgers campuses, Camden and Newark, and earning three wins out of the four games they played at home.
Tuesday, April 7, saw the Lions coming off two straight wins against New Jersey City University, and they looked to keep this trend going against the Rutgers-Camden Scarlet Raptors.
In what can only be described as a battle between two great pitchers, both teams were held to less than five hits and were kept scoreless for most of the game. Junior pitcher Ashtin Helmer played through all seven innings, keeping the Raptors at bay with excellent arm work.
Camden’s pitching staff, lead by junior Brittany Scott, also gave the Lions a challenge. Junior infielder Deanna Utter says both teams should be extremely proud.
“Both teams played some great softball,” Utter said. “Rutgers-Camden’s pitcher did a great job at moving the ball around the zone, and we did a great job at making the adjustments and driving the ball. Ashtin did a great job for us on the mound, and our defense was there to back her.”
Taking a cue from herself, Utter would be the first to step up, belting a home run in the fourth inning to give her team a lead. That rally seemed to spark the team, as next inning freshman Bria Bartsch singled in another run, extending the lead.
The Raptors showed signs of a comeback in the last two innings, but the Lions were able to secure the win, 2-1.
The women hoped that this success could carry over into the next game, but the Raptors were not going to take that lying down.
The Lions struck first again in this game right away off a single from Utter, making it 1-0.
Camden struck back just as quickly, though, getting two runners on base in the second before slamming a home run to left center. They weren’t down, however, as they scored two more runs in the third.
Freshman Jess Stevenson later singled in a run for the Lions during the bottom half of the third, but after that, both teams’ pitching took over once again. Both teams had chances after that but couldn’t capitalize, leaving the final score at 5-2 in a loss for the College.
Utter, looking back at the play, said the team needs to understand mistakes will happen and she hopes to correct them.
“Errors are going to happen. It is just important to learn from them in order to improve our future play,” Utter said. “We will continue to practice our approach to help us with our success in the box.”
Moving on from those games, the team looked forward toward two more battles against another Rutgers’ campus on Saturday, April 11, at home, and this time, it was Newark coming down for a fight.
The first game between the two teams was one-sided right from the start. While the Scarlet Raiders were able to keep the Lions down to only eight hits, it’s what they did with those hits that mattered.
In the first inning, Utter’s swing once again lifted the team as she belted a three-run homer to left center. The next inning Bartsch shined again as well, singling in another run, making it 4-0 after only two innings.
The Raiders struck back in the fourth, scoring a run off a double. But a series of singles and sacrifice flies from Bartsch, sophomore Colleen Phelan and junior Kristen Fitzsimmons brought in three more runs in the fourth.
Bartsch, who has been having a great season so far, said she only has one thing on her mind during games.
“I’m looking to help the team, and not really thinking much of (the stats),” Bartsch said.
After one more home run from Utter brought in two more runs in the sixth, the game was called, and the Lions scored the win, 9-1.
However, you can’t count a team like Newark out after a loss like that, and they still had one more game to play.
The Lions first drew blood, scoring off a Phelan fly-out in the first inning. They would strike again in the next inning after a single by junior Steph Vuono brought in yet another run, making it 2-0 after two innings.
Rutgers would battle back in the third after two well placed hits — one double and one single — helped get the Raiders back in the game with the score tied.
Looking back at the play of the Scarlet Raiders, Bartsch said a few things factored into their play compared to the first game.
“They had a lot of timely hits when they needed it,” she said. “It also mattered whether or not they fell in.”
The ball fell in for the Lions later on in the inning thanks to a single by Stevenson to bring in a run, putting the team up by one. The team was able to expand their lead even further in the sixth inning thanks to singles from freshman Madison Levine and Phelan, which scored two more runs.
That was the final, as the team scored another win, 5-2. Now they look toward their next game on Tuesday, April 14, at Richard Stockton. As Bartsch put it, the team hopes to have some great games there.
“We’re really hoping for some good competition,” Bartsch said. “And we hope to come out fighting every time we take the field.”