By Jenni Chiarello
The Broncs took on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at home on Wednesday in a doubleheader. Lehigh (20-14, 4-0 Patriot) came into the matchup with a six-game winning streak. However, Rider (12-19-1, 2-1 MAAC), fresh off its recent sweep of Manhattan, entered the contests on the upswing and it showed.
Led by the efforts of recent MAAC Pitcher of the Week, senior Rachael Matreale, the Broncs ended Lehigh’s six-game winning streak with a 6-3 victory in the day cap of the doubleheader. Rider was unable to convert the sweep as it dropped game two, 5-2.
“Lehigh is very good every year,” Matreale said. “Games where we are not supposed to beat the other team are the most fun to me because we just get to go out there and show people what we can do. Most people don’t think much of our team and it is nice that we have been proving a lot of teams wrong this year.”
In the opening game, the offense was led by standout freshman Allysen Breeden, who hit a three-run blast in the fifth inning. Junior Alyssa Paul contributed with two RBI singles, and junior Sam Pugh added on an RBI double.
“The offensive performance for our team was great,” senior Lucy Higgins said. “You can definitely see that our hitting is getting better each game.”
Higgins registered one of Rider’s 11 hits as the Broncs’ one through six batters combined for 10 hits and all six RBIs.
“We hit the ball hard today and made things happen and that is what we need to do to get ready for conference [play],” Matreale said.
Matreale threw a complete game, while striking out six for her 11th victory of the year.
“The pitching is doing great for us this year,” Higgins said. “Rachael, [sophomore] Krysti [Maronski] and [senior] Kelsey [Krisch] are doing what they have to do to keep us in these games.”
Game two started off in the Broncs’ favor with an RBI single from Breeden, but the Mountain Hawks answered back with three runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead.
Rider scored one more run on a double steal from junior Heather Muscara, but Lehigh tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning to seal the deal.
“I always want to win both games, but with this being a non-conference game against a very good team, I am proud of the way we played,” Matreale said.
The Broncs look to come back full force when they take on St. Peter’s in a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rider.
“St. Peter’s is a team we need to sweep,” Matreale said. “They have been surprising some people by putting up some runs and having some decent hitters.”
The Peahens are a conference rival, and even though they are only 3-24, the Broncs should look out for freshman Nicole Olmedo, the MAAC Rookie of the week who is currently batting .368.
“Conference is huge for us no matter what team it is,” Higgins said. “Playing against St. Peter’s just means they are the next step for us on our path towards the MAAC Tournament.”