Don’t send up the red flags just yet. The softball team sure isn’t.
Rider began the season on somewhat shaky ground last weekend when it lost four of five games at the Elon tournament in North Carolina. It split a pair of games on the first day – defeating Georgetown, 8-5, after falling short against host Elon, 5-2 – but lost all three games, 3-1, 11-0 and 8-0, respectively, on the second day. Two of the defeats on the final day came against Ohio.
The team contributes its mediocre beginning to the fact that it has not yet been able to practice outdoors, because of the recent period of inclement weather.
“I feel that it was very hard to prepare when we have not been outside,” said junior outfielder Tiffany Day-Neutill, a preseason All-MAAC selection. “It was definitely a disadvantage. You cannot practice everything you need to in the gym. We are just going to keep working hard and get the most out of the gym as we can until we are able to go outside.”
Rider (1-4) came close in the tournament opener against Elon (3-5), but its late rally fell short when Elon scored a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to pull away. On a positive note, senior second baseman Ashley Boulden achieved the 100th hit of her career, becoming the 38th softball player at Rider to reach such a goal.
In the second game, junior pitcher Jessica Holland entered the game with Rider down 4-1 and picked up the win after recording three strikeouts in three and one-third innings of relief. Her teammates rallied with five runs in the sixth inning to steal the win.
The following day against Ohio, Day-Neutill knocked in freshman catcher Megan Kozlowski for Rider’s only run of the day. Sophomore Lauren Brunner pitched a complete game with 11 hits and two strikeouts, but Rider stumbled, 3-1.
“The one thing I think we could have done differently was be tougher mentally,” said Day-Neutill. “We have the talent to compete on the field but we allowed mistakes to turn into more mistakes. I think that we need to find a way for one mistake to stay at one mistake.”
The Broncs were shut out in their last two games of the tournament. Holland gave up nine earned runs in an 11-0 defeat to Connecticut. Freshman Laura Magliozzi fared no better in the nightcap, losing 8-0 to Ohio.
“I think our only weakness as a team was our hitting,” said Brunner. “We hit well for it being the first time out and seeing live pitching, but we didn’t push the runs across when we needed them the most or when girls were in scoring position.”
As for all the possible chitchat that may stir up about whether or not changes need to be made, cross them out. This team remains as relaxed and poised as ever.
“I really think we don’t need to change much,” Brunner said. “Everyone was a little timid but with having three to four freshman starters, all we need to do is loosen up a little bit more and have fun. We are all outstanding athletes and play so much better when we are relaxed and playing like we know how.”
In the grand scheme of things, the string of defeats can be considered meaningless. None of the opponents Rider played were conference foes. Only games played against MAAC teams count when it comes to the postseason.
Rider will continue its season in a face-off against Drexel on Wednesday at 2 p.m.