The softball team returned to action last weekend with a five- game swing in Clearwater, Florida as part of the Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational. It was a rough weekend for the Rams, as they went just 1-4, while giving up double digit runs in every loss.
The invitational started on a positive note, though, with a hard fought victory over DePaul on Friday. With the score tied 4-4 in the top of the sixth, DePaul’s Nicole Pihl hit a homerun to center field, giving the Blue Demons the lead and momentum in the second-to-last frame. Fordham sophomore Morgan Figueroa led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and eventually moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a pop-up for out number two, freshman Jessica Hughes walked, putting runners on first and second. Junior second baseman Amy Van Hoven stepped to the plate and hit a two-out, bases-clearing double, giving the Rams a 6-5 lead. Van Hoven’s hit proved to be the game winner, as junior Lauren Quesne was able to close the game in the seventh, picking up her first win of the year.
The second game of the day turned out to be a microcosm of the rest of the weekend for the Rams. They faced off against the South Florida Bulls, who managed to score three runs in the first, five in the fourth and one in the fifth to push their lead to 9-0. Fordham was eventually able to respond in the bottom of the fourth with two runs of its own, the first of which came off of the bat of Lindsay Mayer. The junior doubled to score Sydney Canessa, and then scored for herself, thanks to a single by freshman Jordana Storm. The Bulls responded in the top of the fifth and put up two more runs, stretching the score to 11-2, where it would remain for the rest of the game.
Grad student Rachel Gillen pitched three innings, giving up eight runs, six of which were earned, on 11 hits while taking the loss.
A new day brought the same story for the Rams. On Saturday morning they were matched up against the number 19 James Madison Dukes. JMU scored seven runs in the first three innings, jumping out to a quick lead. The Rams were able to battle back in the fourth, shrinking the deficit to three, by scoring four runs thanks to some timely hitting from Canessa and Gillen. However, they were unable to put any more on the board. The Dukes squashed the comeback in the sixth, when they tacked on another four runs to push the score to 11-4.
Quesne was dealt her third loss of the season after throwing two innings while giving up six runs on six hits. Junior Lindsay Mayer came in for relief, but was unable to hold back the JMU offense. She gave up five runs on five hits in 3.1 innings of work. Gillen finished the game for the Rams, striking out one of the two batters she faced.
The second game of the day was close throughout but in the end appeared one sided. The Rams were pitted against a very good Tennessee team who came into the game ranked 12th in the country. The Lady Vols slowly built their lead, scoring a run per inning in the second, third and fourth, as well as two in the fifth to push the score to 5-0. Fordham had two runs come across in the sixth due to a throwing error by Lady Vols second baseman Aubrey Leach, but were not able to extend the rally any further. The Lady Vols piled on five more in the sixth, ending the game due to the runs rule.
Fordham left runners stranded in scoring position all game, and could not find the timely hits that are necessary to beat a high caliber team. The loss dropped Gillen’s record to 1-4 on the season. She gave up 10 earned runs on 13 hits while also walking seven.
The weekend culminated in a game against the powerhouse Auburn Tigers. Auburn came into the game ranked third nationally and played like it. They scored 18 runs during the course of the game, 17 more than the Rams, and notched a victory in the fifth inning thanks to the runs rule.
That type of play has been typical for the Tigers, who have scored at least 18 runs in five separate games, including a 28 run performance earlier in the year against Butler.
The weekend might not have gone exactly how the women would have liked, but games like these will only serve to test their character. It will be interesting to see how they are able to respond going forward. The Rams play another five games in Orlando this coming weekend, and will look to bounce back and get their season headed in the right direction.