By Josh Veltrie
Rider’s softball team was on fire in the beginning of the annual Rebel Games in Florida, winning the first three games it played.
The Broncs (5-14) beat Colgate, 9-4, and Farleigh Dickinson, 8-7, on Sunday, March 15. Junior Allyson Melia was the hero against FDU with four hits, including the game-winning RBI double in the seventh inning.
“It was a tough game, and we played really hard,” Melia said. “I’m a leadoff batter and my job is to get on base any way I can to get something going. There was a runner on third, and I knew I had to hit it to the right side of the field to get the run in. So I waited for an inside pitch, and I got a base hit to right field. It was a great win and felt amazing to come out with a victory.”
Freshman Rachael Matreale also had a strong showing for the Broncs, picking up her first collegiate win against Colgate. She pitched a complete game, recording three strikeouts.
“I was extremely excited to get my first win down in Florida,” Matreale said. “I wish I could have got it sooner, but it was an exciting game and the team played really well that day.”
Rider then played five games in two days, winning the first against Wagner, 7-2, and then dropping the next game to Columbia in a tough 6-5 loss.
Against Wagner, Matreale threw another complete game to get her second win in a row. Melia, sophomore Amanda Centeno and junior Derrin Minunni led the Broncs’ offensive attack with two hits each.
It didn’t get any easier for the Broncs the next day as all three games went into extra innings, with Rider only winning one of them. They lost to Akron, 7-6, in eight innings and were defeated 3-1 by Army, also in eight innings.
In the final game on Wednesday, March 18, Rider beat Houston Baptist 4-2 in another eight-inning game. Sophomore Brittany Eckett hit the go-a-head home run in the eighth inning and senior Lauren Brunner was able to pick up the win with a complete game.
Even with a day off on Thursday, three extra-inning games in one day most likely took a toll on the players as they lost their last four games.
“In the beginning of the week, when we won our first three games we weren’t tired yet,” Melia said. “It was beautiful weather, and we were all just really happy to be playing softball in 80 degrees. After our three tough losses (Columbia, Akron and Army), I think fatigue started to affect us. We all just got tired out, and I don’t think we were playing to our potential.”
The Broncs lost to Wisconsin-Green Bay, 7-4, and then to Lafayette, 5-2, Friday and then on Saturday they fell 4-0 to Hartford and 8-0 to Cornell.
“We played teams that were all about our talent level, which makes every game really competitive and a great learning experience for the team,” Matreale said. “I think the trip was a great bonding experience for the team, and it will really help us down the road this season and it should be a very exciting season.”
Rider has two doubleheaders at home coming up this weekend, playing Canisius twice on Saturday and Fairfield twice on Sunday.