Softball sweeps reigning conference champions

By Thomas Albano

The softball team played five games at home this past week, hosting doubleheaders against Delaware and Iona.

The Broncs (8-18, 3-3 MAAC) played host to Delaware (19-13, 4-4 CAA) for two games on April 1. The Blue Hens wasted no time in proving dominance, scoring all 10 of their runs on 10 hits during the first three innings of the game.

Sophomore pitcher Megan McDonough was severely rocked, giving up seven runs and seven hits. After hitting the first Delaware batter of the third inning, she was pulled from the game and replaced by sophomore Megan Ailand.

The offense fared no better, getting only three hits in the first two innings before falling completely silent. After five innings, the mercy rule was called, and Rider was defeated by a score of 10-0.

Game two also did the Broncs no favors, as the Blue Hens scored at least two runs in every inning with the exception of the fourth, when they scored none. Delaware’s 11 runs came off of 12 hits and three Rider errors, while the Broncs only got hits from three junior infielders: Dana Sensi, Kim Valdes and Emily Cottrell. The game was called after six innings with the final score 11-3 in Delaware’s favor.

Rider then hosted the defending MAAC champions, Iona (4-19, 2-4 MAAC) on April 4. Sophomore Delany DeMello struggled on the mound at the start, allowing one run in the first inning on four walks.

The score saw no change until the bottom of the sixth inning. After Valdes walked, sophomore outfielder Josettee Spencer pinch ran for her, and Sensi singled. Following a Cottrell ground out, senior shortstop Gina McCool brought in both runners with a single up the middle. McCool was then replaced by a pinch runner — freshman outfielder Tony Nino, who later scored. The Gaels could only get one run across in the top of the seventh, giving the Broncs the victory.

While McCool got the game-winning hit, she felt her offensive showing was not the best.

“I actually wasn’t seeing the ball really well today,” McCool said. “Coach had a talk with me before that inning just saying to hit early in the count, and she’s putting it on the outside corner so just take it that way. I was just trying to pull out a lot of stuff today, so it felt good just to get a timely hit.”

Head Coach Tricia Carroll felt that, despite a shaky start from DeMello, the Bronc bats have been hot.

“I don’t think [DeMello] pitched particularly well the first game,” Carroll said. “Six walks, but it was enough. The walks do concern me, but the bats have been coming up big, and the composure of everybody in the batter’s box has been awesome.”

The first run of game two came from Iona on an RBI single that came in the top of the second. Rider tied the score in the fourth when senior catcher Allysen Breeden hit a home run, then took the lead on an RBI single from Sensi. McDonough, who started game two, was rocked in the fifth and sixth innings, giving up a total of four runs on seven hits from the Gaels.

The Broncs then went on an offensive burst in the bottom of the sixth. After an RBI hit from Valdes, Sensi hit a grand slam, giving her team the lead and completing a total six for six performance between both games against Iona. One more Rider run crossed the plate before DeMello pitched a successful top of the seventh to earn a save, as the Broncs also won game two.

Sensi, who leads the team in nearly every offensive category, says the team’s offensive work has improved greatly from last year, when the team would just “get a couple of hits here and there.”

“Everyone gets hot at different times,” Sensi said. “People get hot, and luckily, we’re able to string our hits together.”

Rider was scheduled to play a home game against St. Joseph’s (20-8, 6-1 Atlantic 10) on April 7. However, the game was postponed at the request of the visitors, possibly because St. Joseph’s softball team is under investigation for hazing.

The Broncs’ next game will be on April 9 on the road against Villanova.

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