Rider goes 1-4, loses to Peacocks and Tigers

By Kadie Digiuseppe

Rider softball was back in town against Saint Peter’s on March 22, where it split its first home doubleheader of the season before traveling to Princeton, New Jersey, on March 26, falling in both games of another doubleheader.

Comeback win and hard-fought loss

The Broncs looked nervous at bat during the first three innings of play against Saint Peter’s, as Rider’s offense mainly consisted of flyouts and strikeouts. 

The Broncs let the Peacocks go up 2-0 as early as the end of the first inning after two back-to-back doubles to sophomore left fielder Fallyn Stoeckel and junior right fielder Asiah Bell. 

The Broncs were down 0-3 going into the fourth inning after a single up the middle in the third.

Once they advanced to third base off senior infielder Jessie Niegocki’s single and Stoeckel’s sacrifice fly to center field, sophomore designated player Jadeyn Merrill put Rider on the board. 

Down 1-3, Rider came to the plate in the fifth inning swinging at the plate but could not buy a run. 

After only allowing one hit during the last inning, the Broncs knew they had to give everything to come back and win. 

The last inning started off with senior outfielder Laneya Wright roping a double to left center. She stayed aggressive on the bases and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Junior catcher Kristyn Gardner drew a walk, which brought up sophomore outfielder Maddie Luedtke. 

Luedtke’s line drive triple to left center scored both runners, tying the game for Rider at three a piece. 

“During my at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on and a new pitcher in the circle, I knew I needed to be aggressive in the count and make something happen to get those runs in,” Luedtke said. 

With no outs on the board for the Broncs, Merrill’s single to right field brought in the winning run.

In the 4-3 win, senior starting pitcher Anna-Marie Groskritz and her junior relief pitcher Kathryn Schmierer combined for four strikeouts. 

Groskritz explained that going forward she wants to work on some things to prepare for upcoming games. “I want to really focus on sticking my pitches better and making less mistakes,” she said. 

The Peacocks put up three runs in the third inning, but Luedtke answered with a three-run home run to left field that scored Niegocki and Merrill as well. 

After going three up, three down in the top of the fourth, Rider’s offense kept rolling. It added three more runs in the fourth inning after a single to first base by freshman infielder Olivia Smith scored freshman outfielder Tristyn Wren. 

Following that, Merrill doubled and scored freshman infielder Kiersten Buchanan along with Smith to put the Broncs in front of the Peacocks 6-3. 

Niegocki’s single drove in the last run for the Broncs during the sixth inning, but Rider ultimately did not find a gap. 

The Broncs’ defense slowly started to collapse as the game came to a close, letting Saint Peter’s outscore them 6-1 in the last three innings and allowing seven hits. Rider ended the game with a 9-7 deficit. 

Head Coach Davon Ortega said, “Our offense really started to put things together against St. Peter’s. We’ve been stranding a lot of runners on base all season, so our focus was on putting the ball in the gaps to finally start scoring those runs.”

Back-to-back losses

After their first home double header, the Broncs were on the road again for another against Princeton on March 26. 

Before their pair of games against the Tigers, Ortega said, “One of our main focuses against Princeton is to improve in the areas that we may have lacked in against Saint Peter’s and to work on our physical adjustments.”

Following a slow first inning and going down 2-0, Rider got its first run of the game in the second inning after sophomore Julia Harsche’s double to right center brought in Buchanan. 

However, the Broncs still couldn’t find a way to stop the Princeton offense, allowing two more runs to score and ending the inning down 4-1. 

The Broncs let up one more run in the fifth inning and another in the sixth, but after three groundouts in the last inning, the Broncs were defeated 6-3. 

Junior pitcher Kathryn Schmierer had three strikeouts during the loss. 

The Tigers came out hot to start the second game, jumping to an early 5-0 lead over the Broncs after two doubles and a single. 

After a fielding error, the Broncs let up another run in the second inning and again in the fourth inning, giving the Tigers a large lead as they eventually won 7-0.

Stoeckel relieved Groskritz and put up three strikeouts during another tough loss for the Broncs. 

They will face Canisius at home on March 29 and 30, then to Delaware State on April 2. 

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