Softball wins three out of five to open the regular season

By Kadie Digiuseppe

Rider softball began its season at East Carolina on Feb. 23 for its first tournament, starting with a 3-2 record. 

The Broncs won their first two games of the tournament over North Carolina Central 10-4 on Feb. 23 and then again on Feb. 24 with a final score of 5-1. 

After its second game against the Eagles, Rider played East Carolina and lost 1-9. To close out the tournament, the Broncs matched up against Towson on Feb. 25 where they won 3-2 in an extra inning and lost their last game 2-3.

Freshman infielder Olivia Smith commented on the hard work that the Broncs put in during the offseason.

“We worked extremely hard in our off-season and being able to see it all come together was really rewarding and just an exciting preview for the rest of the season,” Smith said. 

Eagles sweep, fell short to the Pirates

Rider went up 5-0 in the first inning of their first game against the Eagles after freshman catcher Kendall Reda-Fehsal doubled to left field, bringing in two runs. Reda-Fehsal went 3-3 at bat in her Broncs debut. 

In the same inning, sophomore pitcher Jadeyn Merrill, sophomore infielder Julia Harsche, sophomore outfielder Fallyn Stoeckel and freshman outfielder Shelby Dyer all singled, scoring three more runs for the Broncs. Senior infielder Jessie Niegocki helped bring in two more runs for Rider with  two doubles after the game came to a close 5-4 in favor of the Broncs. 

Senior outfielder Laneya Wright, junior infielder Olivia Burroughs, freshman infielder Kiersten Buchanan and Dyer were all on lockdown defensively. Senior pitcher Anna-Marie Groskritz and Merrill combined for eight strikeouts during the game. 

“I think for our first tournament of the year, we played very well as a team. We started the weekend with a lot of energy and came out very strong in our first game,” said Buchanan. 

Junior pitcher Kathryn Schmierer rolled early with strikeouts for the Broncs during their second matchup against North Carolina Central. Schmierer ended the game with four strikeouts. 

The bats didn’t wake up until the fourth inning, when freshman outfielder Tristen Wren and Merrill both singled, scoring an extra four runs in the inning. Dyer and Buchanan were dominant in the field for Rider again. 

For the first time since 2001, Rider moved to 2-0 to start the season. “The first game jitters are out. It’s time to get down to business,” said Niegocki. 

After two wins to start the season, Rider was back at it against East Carolina University. 

The game was a tough one for the Broncs from the start, allowing a run for the Pirates almost every inning. Niegocki and Stoeckel combined for two strikeouts. 

That didn’t stop Wren from having the best bat of the game with one hit and one RBI that scored Niegocki to give the Broncs their only point of the game. 

Split games against Towson

Bright and early the next day, the Broncs were right back at it for the last day of the tournament with two games against Towson. 

The first game was competitive from the start, with both teams scoring one run in the first inning to tie 1-1 after junior catcher Kristyn Gardner drew a walk with bases loaded and Niegocki gave up a solo home run. 

Going into the seventh inning, the game was tied at 2 after a Towson double that scored a run in the fifth inning and Smith scored on a wild pitch. 

The game went into an extra inning, but the Broncs came prepared at bat. “We didn’t give up,” said Reda-Fehsal, who brought Niegocki home after her RBI to the pitcher. Dyer secured the win for the Broncs with her diving catch in the outfield. 

Reda-Fehsa and Wren combined for four hits. Merrill and Niegocki combined for 10 strikeouts. 

The work that the pitchers put in over the weekend was not lost on Buchanan. “Our pitchers had a great weekend, too. They did their job and forced a lot of balls into play to our defense,” she said.

Their next game against the tigers was another close one, but Rider did not take the win this time. 

Rider struck first offensively, thanks to Reda-Fehsa’s double that allowed Merrill to score and put the Broncs up 1-0 in the first inning. 

The third inning was a hard one for Rider, where they let up two runs to Towson. Wren caught a fly-out and threw it all the way home to get the out at the plate.

The Broncs tied up the game in the fourth after Buchanan’s hit was overthrown to third base to let sophomore outfielder Maddie Luedtke score. In the sixth inning, Towson scored the winning run.

Niegocki commented on the team’s performance throughout the tournament.

“There was a lot of healthy competition this weekend, both with the other team and amongst ourselves,” said Niegocki. “Everyone got an opportunity this weekend and everyone showed out. We figured out what works, what doesn’t and what we need to work on in the next couple days to get us ready for next weekend and ultimately MAAC play.”

Head Coach Davon Ortega commented on how her team played over the weekend.

“Overall I liked how we came out aggressive and attacking on day one and I was happy with how we competed, especially in tight games. I think we did a good job as a collective team of setting the table for where we want to go this season,” said Ortega. “Before this next weekend, we need to work on being sharper and aggressive on the defense and baserunning. Our pitchers will need to improve on understanding how to be effective and successful with smaller strike zones,” she added.

The Broncs will play in the UNC March Madness tournament starting on Mar. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

Related Articles

Back to top button