By Corey Donetz
Rider’s softball team made a trip north this weekend to West Point to take on Army in a two-game set. Rider split the series by winning the first game 9-7 in a hard-fought back-and-forth battle, but lost the second, 9-6, despite a valiant comeback effort.
The Broncs jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead via an RBI single by junior Brittany Eckett in the first game. The RBI was one of four that Eckett would have for the two-game series. However, the lead was short-lived as Army immediately answered by retaking the lead, 2-1.
Thanks to a bad defensive play by Army and senior Ally Melia’s first homerun of the season, the Broncs regained the lead 4-2, but then Army responded instantly in the bottom half of the fourth inning with three runs to recapture the lead. After two more lead changes Army held a 7-6 lead over the Broncs at the end of six innings.
Freshman Heather Muscara hit the go-ahead two-run single to give the Broncs an 8-7 lead.
“I just wanted to stay calm and get a hit. I had two strikes on me and was just focusing on getting a piece of the ball,” Muscara said.
Rider would tack on another insurance run to secure the victory. Muscara, who is the Broncs’ top hitter this season with a .410 average, had four RBIs in the win and is now on an eight-game hitting streak.
Just days after the game, Muscara was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Rookie of the Week.
“When coach called me up I was ecstatic,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
In the second game, the Broncs promptly had a 1-0 lead after the first inning. Army responded with an offensive onslaught in the third and fourth innings. They erupted with four runs in the third inning and five runs in the fourth to take a 9-1 lead.
The eight-run mercy rule would have been put into effect had the Broncs not responded the way they did in the fifth inning. Rider had five hits in the inning and was able to cut the lead down to 9-4 thanks to a two-run single by junior Jen Steward and a solo-home run by senior Candice Harris. Eckett, who had three RBI’s in the game, hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to make the deficit three, but it wasn’t enough. Junior Sam Bennett pitched a complete game in the losing effort.
The Broncs’ home-and conference-opener is tomorrow at 11 a.m. as they take on Saint Peter’s in a doubleheader.
By Corey Donetz