Broncs take three of five from MAAC rivals

By Kadie DiGiuseppe

It’s more than halfway through the season for Rider softball and the wins are starting to roll in. 

The Broncs continued conference play when they traveled to Manhattan on April 5 and 6, then traveled to Iona on April 9 to pursue another MAAC opponent bringing their season record to 12-20. 

‘We bounced back’

The Broncs and the Jaspers stayed scoreless until the third inning, when junior catcher Kristyn Gardner hit a home run to center field, putting Rider up 1-0. 

Manhattan tied the game in the fourth inning, but Rider took the lead right back from the Jaspers following a double by freshman infielder Kiersten Buchanan that drove in sophomore outfielder Maddie Luedtke. 

With no runs scored at the top of the seventh, the Broncs let up a home run to tie the score again, this time at two apiece. 

In the last inning, the Broncs went 0-3 at the plate in extra innings and allowed the Jaspers to score the winning run after a single to center field. 

“No matter who we play, we have to come out strong and give every game our best,” said Luedtke.

In the following game, Rider started off scoreless in the first inning but quickly changed that in the second due to freshman catcher Kendall Reda-Fehsal’s solo home run to left center. 

Sophomore pitcher Fallyn Stoeckel added another home run to the board for the Broncs in the following inning and two innings later, Luedtke’s two run home run scored Stoeckel once again. 

Leading 4-0, the Broncs let up an unearned run in the sixth but quickly scored following Luedtke’s single that scored junior infielder Olivia Burroughs. 

Rider let the Jaspers score two more runs in the seventh, but still managed to end with a 5-3 win. 

Stoeckel had two strikeouts during the game. 

The following day, the game was slow from the start but finally, after a scoreless five innings, Gardner went yard scoring the first run of the day.

After three groundouts in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore pitcher Jadeyn Merrill’s single in the seventh drove in freshman infielder Olivia Smith and Luedtke to put the Broncs in front by three. 

“I think the energy that our team brought in the last two games helped us get those wins,” said Groskritz. “We have come together a lot as a team and our defense has really been our strong suit.”

‘We put enough on the field’

On Tuesday, the Broncs traveled to New York against another one of their MAAC opponents, the Iona Gaels. 

Once again, Rider came out in the first inning swinging away and jumped to an early 2-0 lead after Merrill’s double to right field scored Gardner as well as freshman outfielder Tristen Wren. 

The next three innings stayed competitive between the two teams yet was scoreless until Rider put up three more runs. 

Luedtke scored the first run of the inning after Buchanan’s single to the pitcher. 

Buchanan and Merrill also scored later in the fifth but the Gaels offense started to pick things up, scoring three runs as well in the inning. 

But the Broncs weren’t done yet because Luedtke smacked a ball to left field in the sixth inning and then again in the seventh. 

Rider let Iona score two more runs during the sixth inning but were able to hold on in the last inning to secure the 7-5 win. 

In their following game, the Broncs let the Gaels score first before scoring two runs in the second inning courtesy of sophomore pitcher Fallyn Stoeckel’s single to left.

Rider let Iona score another run in the third but extended their lead after Reda-Fehsal’s single scored Wren and senior outfielder Laneya Wright putting the Broncs in front 4-2 going into the fifth inning. 

The next two innings stayed stagnant between Iona and Rider but unfortunately, the Broncs couldn’t stop the Iona offense from driving in three more runs in the last inning to give the Gaels the win. 

“We’re actually starting to come together and we’re starting to make things happen. We have been working really hard in practice and it’s been paying off,” said Reda-Fehsal. 

The Broncs will stay in conference play next week when they rematch against Iona on April 10 and will be back at home against Siena on April 13 and 14. 

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