Broncs go 1-4 in Texas; Schmierer pitches shutout

By Andrew Smolar and Rebecca Taylor Bludgus

After a 2-3 tournament in North Carolina, the Broncs traveled to Arlington, Texas, for a five-game set at the Boerner Invitational from March 3-5.

The Broncs finished the weekend 1-4, playing two games against Lamar University and the University of Texas at Arlington each, before ending with a faceoff against the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

Each matchup resulted in a Rider loss, except for the second game against Lamar on March 4, in which sophomore pitcher Kathryn Schmierer threw a complete-game shutout.

Day 1 

Softball’s sluggish start to the 2023 season continued on March 3 with a pair of resounding defeats to Lamar and UT Arlington during the Boerner Invitational. Rider was outscored by a combined margin of 18-3 despite grabbing an early lead in both games. 

The first loss of the day to Lamar was particularly ugly when you consider the teams only played five innings. The Broncs only had two hits over the course of the game in a 9-1 setback. 

The highlight of the game for Rider came in the top of the first inning. Junior pitcher Jessie Niegocki led off the game with a walk and was driven in with a triple by freshman outfielder Maddie Luedtke to give the Broncs an early lead.

It was all downhill from there for Rider, only having one hit for the rest of the game and going down in order in every inning except the fourth inning when they got their lone hit, a single by junior outfielder Laneya Wright.

Pitching was also a problem for the Broncs, especially when you factor in that they only committed one error. The Cardinals simply got hot at the plate, scoring runs in four of five innings, three of them being multiple run frames. Lamar got three runs in the first, another three in the second, one in the third and a pair in the final frame. 

The second game against UT Arlington didn’t go much better for Rider. They again grabbed an early lead, only to lose it shortly after and never got it back. The Broncs lost to the Mavericks 9-2 while only getting two hits in the game.

The highlight of the game for Rider was again in the top of the first inning. Niegocki led off the game with a double, graduate student infielder Gianna Epps drew a walk and Luedtke added another hit to give the Broncs an early lead yet again. They even added to it on a passed ball and had a 2-0 edge after the top of the first. Unfortunately for the Broncs, they didn’t have another hit the rest of the game.

Unlike the first game, Rider actually held UTA in check for most of the game. The Mavericks only scored in two innings. The problem was UTA scored multiple runs in both innings. 

In the third, the Mavericks gained two base runners via a single and a walk. The Broncs almost got out of the jam until a three-run home run with two outs gave UTA the lead for good. The Mavericks added on to it in a major way in the fifth. Six insurance runs on the strength of five hits were more than enough to ensure a victory and kill any chance of a Rider comeback.

Day 2

Coming into day two, the Broncs had a shot at redemption as they faced off against the same teams they had played the previous day.

They got their first and only win of the weekend in their second game against Lamar 1-0.

Schmierer went the full seven innings, allowing five hits and striking out five. 

“Watching the first game against them I realized I was going to keep them off balance with my off-speed as well as nailing pitches on the corners to be most effective,” Schmierer said in an email interview with The Rider News. “Being able to hit different heights, speeds, and corners whenever commanded kept them off balance and kept me confident.”

Freshman pitcher Jadeyn Merrill was able to bring in the lone run by hitting a single up the middle, allowing sophomore infielder Olivia Burroughs to come in. 

In the second game of the day, Rider was able to hold up UT Arlington until the seventh inning, forcing the game to go into extras where they fell 2-1.

In the second, Burroughs reached base on a fielder’s choice single and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.

An RBI single from senior outfielder Amanda Cooper sent Burroughs in. 

A threat came in during the bottom third when a bunt at third allowed the Mavericks’ runner at first to come to third.

Then, Epps was able to make the play from short to sophomore catcher Kristyn Gardner at home to prevent the run from scoring. 

The Mavericks went on to tie it up in the seventh with a solo home run to left field. 

In the eighth, senior infielder Brianna Koonce made a great effort to get the run but was called out at home. 

Arlington won with a walk-off single into left field.

Day 3

On March 5, the Broncs were unable to get a hit in their last game, as they faced the University of Missouri-Kansas City and fell 5-0.

Four out of the five runs scored were unearned, two of which came from fielding errors in the second and fifth innings. 

In the fifth inning with bases loaded, the batter was hit by the pitch forcing a run to come in and then a run was walked in. 

The only earned run was a home run to left field. 

Kansas City allowed three walks giving the Broncs baserunners at the very least. 

Rider will be playing next weekend at the Marshall Thundering Herd March Madness Tournament in Huntington, West Virginia.

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