Rider’s softball team put an end to its five-game losing streak while marking the first time in four years the Broncs have started undefeated in conference play.
However, the conference record was short-lived. After the Broncs opened their MAAC schedule with a sweep of Siena in a doubleheader, they fell short twice against St. Peter’s the following day.
“The only record that matters to us is our MAAC record and we plan on not losing another game,” said senior outfielder Mandi Sekly.
The doubleheader against Siena opened with the Broncs trailing 1-0. But Rider (10-22 overall, 2-2 MAAC) came back to take the lead in the second with a two-run double by Sekly.
Siena (7-23 overall, 0-6 MAAC) led 4-2 in the fifth until Rider tied the game on back-to-back RBI doubles from freshman Brittany Eckett and sophomore Derrin Minunni.
With the game tied at four in the seventh inning, senior Tiffany Day-Neutill walked and advanced to second on another Rider walk by Eckett, which set up the winning play for the Broncs. Minunni hit an RBI single to right field, scoring Day-Neutill for a 5-4 Rider win.
Junior pitcher Lauren Brunner claimed the win with a complete game effort, recording a career-high seven strikeouts.
“I think the biggest thing was that we were hitting up and down the lineup,” Sekly said. “Everyone was involved. Also, not one person on our team struck out in either game. That is huge because we made Siena make the routine and the tough plays by consistently putting the ball in play.”
In the second game of the day, the Broncs trailed 1-0 again, until junior Katy Mills hit an RBI single with sophomore Candice Harris following with a two-run double.
Rider added three more runs to the board in the fifth inning, with Day-Neutill recording her third home run of the season and senior Aimee Schiller adding an RBI double. The Broncs finished the nightcap with a 6-2 win over Siena.
Senior Jessica Holland threw a complete game with only four hits, no walks and two strikeouts in her third win of the season.
Minunni, Eckett and Mills each had two hits in the second game with Minunni and Harris each adding doubles, while Day-Neutill scored three times for the day.
“I absolutely knew we had it in us,” Sekly said. “We showed up to play and that’s exactly what we did — was fight hard for all 14 innings.”
On Sunday, Rider was swept by MAAC rival St. Peter’s in another doubleheader.
In the opening game, Rider found itself trailing 4-0 in the fourth before Minunni hit a two-run double to left center.
St. Peter’s took an 8-2 lead over the Broncs in the sixth inning before Rider scored twice on an RBI single from Sekly and an RBI grounder from Brunner. Rider would get no closer as St. Peter’s clinched an 8-4 win.
Brunner ended the game with five strikeouts, and Day-Neutill had two hits for the Broncs.
In the second game, the Peahens led 4-1 in the third until Day-Neutill hit her fourth home run of the season, cutting St. Peter’s lead to two.
The Broncs continued to trail 5-2 before they tied the game with three runs in the sixth on an RBI single from Mills and a two-run double by Brunner.
The Peahens broke the tie in the seventh with a two-out RBI single. Rider had the chance to come back with Day-Neutill on base and a potential game-winning home run by Eckett, but she flied out to the warning track in left field for the second out. St. Peter’s finished with a 6-5 win over the Broncs.
“We need to just have fun and stay loose,” Sekly said. “As a whole, our team plays much better when we have fun rather than getting frustrated all the time.”
Freshman pitcher Samantha Bennett took the loss for Rider, playing four innings of relief with two strikeouts. Mills and Brunner finished with two hits each in the doubleheader.
Rider fell to Lehigh 12-1 in the opening game of its doubleheader on Wednesday. The Broncs came back to overtake the Mountain Hawks in the night cap. The team scored three times in the first inning while limiting the Lehigh offense to clinch a 3-2 non-conference win.
Rider will continue its conference schedule tomorrow when it hosts Marist in a doubleheader.