Rider flying high with six game winning streak

By Kadie DiGiuseppe 

Rider softball had a busy week playing seven games in just six days against Morgan State on April 17, Fairfield on April 20 and 21 then to finish off their week against Mount St. Mary’s on April 23 bringing its record to 19-24. 

Spilt games with Bears

The Broncs started off their week traveling to Morgan State for a double header in Baltimore, Maryland. 

The first game of the day did not go the way Rider had intended, getting shut out 4-0. 

For the first two innings, the game was competitive. Both teams made plays in the field contact with the ball but the game was scoreless to end the second inning. 

The Broncs allowed the Bears to score three runs in the third inning and add another run in the fourth inning. 

During the later innings, the Broncs couldn’t buy a hit at the plate which is what ultimately led to the shut out. 

Senior starting pitcher Anna-Marie Groskritz and senior pitcher Jessie Niegocki combined for five strikeouts during the game. 

With something to prove in the next game, the Broncs started off the game scoring off a Bear’s fielding error which was led by sophomore outfielder Maddie Luedkte and Niegocki. . 

The Broncs allowed a solo homerun in the third inning but kept fighting at the plate. Pinch hitter sophomore Jadeyn Merrill drove in designated hitter graduate student Amanda Cooper to put Rider in front by two to end the fifth inning. 

Rider’s defense was on lock down during the last two innings of the game but couldn’t score another run. The Broncs showed up in game two and won 3-1 to close out the doubleheader. 

Junior starting pitcher Kathryn Schmierer pitched a full game with a season high of six strikeouts. 

“We have to take advantage of every single game that we can because the season is starting to wind down,” Niegocki said. 

“Right now, what we are doing is focusing on our game and going one game at a time. You know, as many wins as we can possibly get. It’s just all about making it there,” said Head Coach Davon Ortega. 

Fairfield sweep

The Broncs started off their weekend series against their MAAC opponent, Fairfield, balls to the walls. 

With bases loaded in the first inning, Rider scored sophomore outfielder Fallyn Stoeckl and Luedtke off a fielder’s choice and an error. 

With two outs in the inning, junior infielder Olivia Burroughs’ RBI single drove in the MAAC rookie of the week, Kiersten Buchanan putting the Broncs ahead by three. 

Fairfield got its first run of the game off a Rider fielding error but the Broncs were able to add another run in the second inning after junior designated player Kristyn Gardner’s single scored freshman outfielder Tristen Wren. 

The game stayed stagnant until freshman infielder Kendall Reda-Fehsal’s home run in the fifth inning. 

Leading by four in the last inning, Buchanan hit a double that drove in Cooper and Luedtke for the last two runs solidifying the 7-1 win for the Broncs. 

Starting pitcher Niegocki pitched a full game and ended with a season high seven strikeouts. 

“I think nobody knows our field better than us we have great home field advantage that helps us bring that energy out onto the field,” said Niegocki. 

To start the following game, both the Broncs and the Stags played good defense but didn’t score any runs. In the third inning, Luedtke changed that by sending the ball over the fence for a two run homerun that also scored Niegocki. 

Fairfield scored off a triple in the sixth inning but Rider held them scoreless in the seventh and sealed the close 2-1 win. 

Stoeckl and Groskritz each had one strikeout. 

“I think our team was a little more aware of what the situation was and I just think that we brought a lot of confidence into it,” said Ortega. 

For Rider’s last game against Fairfield and their senior game, the Broncs let the Stags jump in front early in the game. 

Rider responded the following inning after senior outfielder Laneya Wright’s single drove in Gardner and Luedtke, giving the Broncs the lead. 

However, the Broncs’ lead slowly faded away during the fifth and sixth inning when they allowed Fairfield to score two more runs. 

Going into the last inning with two outs, two girls on base and the game on the line, Buchanan comes up to bat. Her hit soured into right field, looking like it was caught and the game was over, but the ball was dropped.

The Broncs walked off the game winning 4-3 after freshman infielder Olivia Smith and Luedtke scored. 

Groskritz pitched the full game and ended with five strikeouts. 

“I think coming back home, we talked all season about peaking at the right time and putting everything together. We haven’t done it at the right time but I think they are starting to chip away at that today,” said Ortega.

Extending the winning streak

To start their series against Mount St. Mary’s, the Broncs bats stayed hot, scoring four runs in the first inning alone. 

Niegocki was the first to score off of Stoeckl’s double and shortly after Stoeckl was able to score off of Gardner’s single. 

Reda-Fehsal’s single brought in Buchanan and Gardner giving Rider the early lead. 

However, the score stayed the same until the Broncs were able to get another run in the fifth inning after Buchanan’s double scored Luedkte. 

Another scoring rally began in the sixth inning for Rider, with Gardner’s double scoring junior pinch hitter Asiah Bell and Niegocki. 

Buchanan stayed hot and roped a single up the middle which scored Smith for the Broncs last run of the game and confirmed the shut-out. 

Niegocki pitched a full game with a season high eight strikeouts and allowed only one hit. 

Mount St. Mary’s was the first to score in the following game off a Rider fielding error. 

One run didn’t get to the Broncs because right after the top of the first, Reda-Fehsal drove in Niegocki and Stoeckl stole home plate in the same inning. 

However, after being up by one, the Broncs let the lead slip away during the second inning and allowed the Mountaineers to score three more runs and reclaimed the lead 4-2. 

In the following two innings, Luedtke and Burroughs were able to score off of hits by freshman catcher Abby Cruz and Reda-Fehsal, tying the game at four apiece. 

After playing great defense during the top of the fifth inning, the Broncs scored Niegocki and Luedkte giving Rider a two more run lead going into the sixth inning. 

The Broncs defense was clutch in the seventh inning which resulted in another win and extended their winning streak to six games. 

Rider will finish up its series with Mount St. Mary’s at home on April 24 at 2 p.m. and then will travel to Niagara University on April 27 and 28. 

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