Impressive shutouts start conference play

By David Pavlak
Pitching was the key for Rider’s softball team last Saturday against St. Peter’s, as the Broncs shut out the Peahens in both games of a doubleheader. The Broncs then lost the next three games they played, two against Lehigh on Tuesday and then losing  on Wednesday to Delaware before tying the Blue Hens in a game called due to lack of light.
Rider (8-18-1 overall) scored a combined 20 runs in the two games against St. Peter’s, winning 8-0 and 12-0. Lehigh then beat the Broncs 8-6 in the first game before defeating Rider 13-6 in the nightcap.  Against Delaware, the Broncs lost 6-5,  and the second game ended 4-4 in eight innings.
Rider entered last weekend 6-15 and was looking to add to its résumé. The Broncs opened this action-packed week against St. Peter’s. Rider started the scoring in the fourth inning, beginning with the bat of freshman Heather Muscara who knocked in an RBI single. The game ended 8-0 in the sixth inning.
Sophomore pitcher Rachael Matreale was happy with the performance of the team against the Peahens.
“Everyone was really pumped and excited for the game, myself included,” said Matreale. “I went out on the field way too anxious, and it took me an inning or two to settle down and pitch the way I can. We played really solid defense, and I think that will be one of the keys to winning a lot of these upcoming games.”
Rider continued to keep its foot on the gas pedal in the nightcap game. It was more of the same from the Broncs as they scored three runs in the bottom of the first after a homerun from junior Brittany Eckett. The consistent batter was happy with the Broncs offense as of late.
“Everyone is hitting well, which makes it hard for other teams to decide who to pitch the ball to and who not to,” said Eckett. “We are all hitting the ball very well and very consistently.”
The game finished 12-0 in the fifth inning as St. Peter’s could not muster up any offense to put together a formidable comeback.
Later that week, the Rider softball team took on the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh. Rider opened the scoring early, jumping out to a 2-1 score against a tough Lehigh team. After consecutive doubles from Muscara and junior Amanda Centen, Eckett stepped back up and nailed another homerun to deep center field, scoring two runs. Lehigh, however, scored on an error, tying the game. In extra innings, Lehigh scored two runs, making the game 6-8, putting the game out of reach for the Broncs.
“We didn’t play to our potential against Lehigh,” said Eckett. “They were a good team, but we let a bunch of little mistakes get us down.”
Following the loss, Rider had to resurrect its spirits as they tried to even the series with the Mountain Hawks. The Broncs scored five runs in the bottom of the second to jump out to an early lead. Starting in the third inning, though, Lehigh took a strangle hold of the matchup and scored 13 unanswered runs. The game ended in the fifth inning because of darkness, 13-6.
Next on the Broncs’ plate were the Blue Hens of Delaware. The action picked up in the sixth inning when Eckett once again drove the ball out of the park, scoring two runs. Rider’s defense would come back to bite them as they would commit four errors, followed up by an RBI single in the seventh inning that would give Delaware the win.
In the second game, a wild pitch in the first inning allowed the Blue Hens to score. But the Broncs came back, led by the bats of Centeno and Muscara who drove in runs during the third and the fifth innings.
Defense once again cost the Broncs as a fielding error permitted a run to score. In the seventh, Delaware was able to score two runs, tying the game at four before the decision was made to end the game.
“Anything less than making the championship will be devastating to us,” said Eckett.

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