By Carlos Toro
The softball team, under first-year Head Coach Jaclyn Timko, won its first conference game after splitting a series at Iona on April 10.
After being swept by Fairfield on April 9, the Broncs (4-25, 1-5 MAAC) came from behind in the seventh inning during the first game of the doubleheader against Iona.
Timko knew that playing four conference games on the road in a span of two days was tough. Getting the win at Iona was important for the team.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” Timko said. “We are battling a lot against these teams, especially on the road. The team is a little battered right now so getting the split and going 1-for-3 in the weekend on the road is a victory in our eyes.”
In the doubleheader against Fairfield (14-12, 3-1 MAAC), Rider’s offense was not able to find its rhythm offensively. The Broncs could not score a run in the first game, losing 11-0 to the Stags.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Fairfield’s offense exploded for eight runs in the first inning, forcing senior Montana Berg’s day as a pitcher to end at 0.2 innings.
Rider could not get any offense on the board until the fourth inning, when senior first base Dana Sensi doubled to send junior center fielder Josettee Spencer home.
The Broncs did score four more runs from the third to the fifth innings to cut the deficit to just three runs. But two more runs by Fairfield in the sixth inning sealed the game, as the Stags won 10-5.
Senior designated hitter Kim Valdes became the 49th Bronc softball player with 100 career hits when she singled in the seventh inning.
On April 10, Iona (7-20, 1-3 MAAC) got on board in the first inning of the doubleheader with two runs, but junior pitcher Megan Ailand kept the Gaels’ offense from scoring any further.
Rider did not score for the entirety of the game until the top of the seventh inning, when the team scored a total of five runs. After left fielder sophomore Toni Nino singled to left field to bring the Broncs on board, and junior shortstop Amanda Crimarco scored on a pitcher’s error, Sensi hit a bases-clearing double to give the Broncs the 5-2 lead, which was enough for them to get the victory.
Rider continued the strong offense with a three-run first inning in the second game, but Iona scored six unanswered runs. The Broncs would eventually score two more runs but could not mount another comeback with Rider losing 8-5.
Despite the loss against Iona, there were encouraging signs that the team is improving on offense as seven different Broncs had a hit.
This was one of Rider’s better offensive performances of the season, and Timko is content that it is hitting the ball better in recent weeks.
“We’ve talked about this all season,” Timko said. “We have left runners on base and I think a lot of it has to do with our pitch selection. Hitting is contagious, so if we get some of our players to keep swinging the bat then everybody is going to get on board.”
The Broncs will get a chance to win their second conference game of the season when they face Manhattan (16-10, 3-1 MAAC) on the road on April 18.
Despite the team’s record in nonconference games, Timko is stressing the importance of starting MAAC play on a blank slate and playing well.
“Every conference game is huge for us,” Timko said. “I told the players, ‘It doesn’t matter what our record was, and we’re coming into the conference schedule with a 0-0 record.’ Every single game counts. We’re stepping out in the field every time and giving our best.”