By Thomas Albano
The softball team was swept in two doubleheaders on the road this past week, competing against Villanova on April 9 and conference rival Manhattan on April 11.
Junior first baseman Dana Sensi says that even though the team played exceptional competition, they did not play as well as they could.
“They’re non-conference games, but we just didn’t play to our potential [against Villanova],” Sensi said. “Manhattan’s undefeated in the conference right now, so it’s two really tough games. They have Elena Bowman on their team, and she leads the MAAC in everything.”
Villanova (18-19, 6-6 Big East) started game one by scoring three runs on three hits in the first two innings. They added two runs on three hits during the bottom of the fifth.
Rider attempted a comeback in the sixth. One run came across the plate thanks to an RBI double by senior shortstop Gina McCool, and two more were scored on a Villanova error. The rally ended there, however, as the Wildcats scored in the bottom of the sixth before easily taking care of the Broncs the next inning for the victory.
Game two also saw Villanova score early. Going into the bottom of the third with a 1-0 lead, the Wildcats added three thanks to an RBI ground out, in part because of a wild pitch by sophomore Delany DeMello and a two-run home run.
Rider attempted another rally in the top of the fourth. Junior first baseman Dana Sensi hit her 10th home run of the season. Then, McCool scored thanks to an error by the Villanova catcher, sophomore Natalia Segovia, after Rider’s senior catcher Allysen Breeden reached first base on a strikeout.
That is all the Broncs would add on, however. The Wildcats scored twice more in the bottom of the inning to make their lead 6-2, and that would be the final score.
Rider tried to improve its luck two days later against conference-rival Manhattan (17-9, 8-0 MAAC). The first game was a pitcher’s duel between DeMello and Villanova’s senior Amy Bright. Despite four walks, DeMello had four strikeouts and gave up only two runs on five hits. Her opposition was just better, however, as Bright pitched a shutout — striking out seven and allowing only three hits as Manhattan took the win.
DeMello felt she settled in better against a familiar foe.
“There is always a different atmosphere when it comes to conference games,” DeMello said. “I knew we had nothing to lose and everything to gain because [Manhattan is] undefeated in the conference.”
The second game started differently, as the Broncs were the ones to strike first. They gained a 1-0 lead in the first following an RBI single from sophomore pitcher Megan McDonough and then added another run in the third after a sacrifice fly by McCool.
The tide turned, however, as Manhattan scored in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Rider lead in half. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, McDonough surrendered two home runs, and the Jaspers took the lead and the win.
Rider will play a doubleheader on April 15 at Delaware before coming home for a doubleheader on April 18 against Fairfield.
Sensi believes the team cannot afford to lose another two straight conference games.
“We definitely need these wins this weekend,” Sensi said. “I think, although we blew a lead in our last game against Manhattan — being that they’re tied for first in the conference — I think it’s giving us a little momentum and showing us we can hang with anyone.”