Most Major League Baseball teams will have their pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training this week, but the Fordham softball team is already seeing live action in Orlando. The team faced a five-game stint in Florida in which they competed against some of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
The Rams’ first matchup of the weekend was a Friday game against the No. 19 James Madison Dukes, which served as their official opening day. It was a tight one, but Fordham ultimately lost by a score of 1-0. The only run of the game came in the bottom of the fifth, when JMU’s Erica Field doubled to right, scoring Madyson Moran. Fordham had their ace on the mound in graduate student pitcher Rachel Gillen, who went the distance while allowing only four hits and the single run. Fordham’s only hit of the game came off the bat of junior infielder Amy Van Hoven, when she led off the top of the fourth with a single to center field. Van Hoven was in scoring position three times on the day but failed to ever advance past second base.
The second game of the day came against the fifth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who managed to jump out to a quick lead, scoring two runs in the first frame. Thanks to a throwing error in the third, Fordham was able to cut the deficit in half, but after that, the floodgates opened up and the Rams were unable to stop the water from rushing in. The Crimson Tide scored two runs in the top of the fourth, putting the score at 4-1, before tacking on another five in the top of the fifth. The final score was 9-1. The upside was that the Fordham bats came alive, including a single from freshman infielder Jessica Hughes, the first of her collegiate career. Junior pitcher Lauren Quense took her first loss of the season, allowing seven runs, three of them earned, on eight hits in four and two-thirds innings.
With a new day came a new team. The Rams managed to bounce back nicely on Saturday with a 3-2 win over Rutgers. The Rams struck first in the bottom of the second. Junior infielder Lindsay Mayer doubled to lead off the inning and was eventually plated by junior catcher Stephanie Ferri, who came up with a clutch RBI single with two outs. The Scarlet Knights took the lead in the top of the third, scoring two runs, but Fordham got it back in the fourth. Ferri again delivered the blow, hitting a second RBI single, allowing freshman infielder Maria Trivelpiece to score and tie the game. With the score knotted at two apiece, junior outfielder Sydney Canessa stepped to the plate and hit what turned out to be the game winning RBI. She ripped a single up the middle, scoring sophomore outfielder Morgan Figueora. Rachel Gillen was able to even her record, throwing her second complete game in as many attempts and earning her first win of the season. The lefty struck out three while allowing two earned runs on four hits.
Fordham dropped the mid-afternoon game to No. 17 UCF. The Rams appeared strong at times but were plagued by errors in the bottom of the fourth and never recovered. UCF put up four runs on five hits and two errors in the inning, including a bases clearing double, and it would have done more damage had the Rams not been able to tag out a runner at home plate. Fordham threatened a few times, such as in the second inning. Canessa came to the plate with one out and runners on second and third. She hit a hard shot to the third basemen, who threw home for a tag out. The catcher then wheeled and fired to first to complete the double play and end the danger. Quense, the pitcher, dropped to 0-2 on the season.
The final game of the weekend came against the formidable Stetson Hatters. The Hatters were able to take advantage of the slow start by Gillen, putting up two runs in the bottom of the first. The Rams had runners in scoring position during the top of the same inning, but failed to convert. Stetson threatened again in the bottom of the third inning but were stopped by an always-entertaining 2-6-2-5-1 putout. The only run for the Rams came in the fourth off the bat of freshman infielder Chelsea Skrepenak. Her single allowed Quense to score, but the Rams failed to put any more on the board and eventually lost. Their record fell to 1-4 for the year.
The Rams have many positive takeaways from their opening week, such as the three complete games by Gillen or the three-for-four performance by Hughes against Stetson. They will look to bounce back next weekend when they travel to Clearwater, Florida for another five-game slate.