When most teams lose their best pitcher, they typically do not improve. The Fordham Softball team is not like most teams. Last week, Fordham’s ace pitcher, graduate student Rachel Gillen, went down with a sprained thumb. In her absence, multiple other Rams have stepped up to fill the void that she has left. Last Wednesday, the Rams proved that if one member of their team goes down, everyone else will be able to step up.
The Rams faced St. Bonaventure for an afternoon doubleheader. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth of game one, the Rams were faced with a daunting task. Sophomore outfielder Morgan Figueroa willed a single through the hole between first and second to keep them alive. The next and final batter of the game was junior infielder Amy Van Hoven, who delivered in the biggest way, crushing a no-doubter over the fence into deep right field to give the Rams a 5-4 victory. It was the first home run of her career. Junior pitcher Lauren Quense matched her career high in innings pitched, throwing eight solid innings, giving up only two earned runs while striking out nine.
Game two followed a similar storyline, but with a different hero. In the bottom of the eighth, trailing 6-5, the Rams found themselves in the hole once again. Freshman infielder Chelsea Skrepenak reached on an error, which brought senior infielder Allie Bradian to the plate. Following Van Hoven’s lead Bradian launched a two-run shot into the net above the fence for the second walk-off homerun of the day, and the first homerun of Bradian’s career. The story of the two Ram walk-offs made its way to ESPN, a well-deserved sign of respect. Junior infielder Lindsay Mayer picked up two wins on the day, both coming in relief of Quense, while also going 6-7 at the plate for the afternoon.
Mayer continued her domination against A-10 opponent George Washington on Saturday. The junior drove in all three runs in the team’s 3-1 win, while also picking up the save. Quense started the game, throwing four innings and allowing only four hits before turning it over to Mayer in the fifth. Mayer came in and allowed one hit and struck out three batters, securing another in-conference victory for the Rams.
The Rams completed their three game road trip on Sunday in a doubleheader against George Washington. In the first game the Rams jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first two innings, with one of those runs coming from a solo homerun from Mayer. However, the Colonials did not die, scoring three in the third, one in the fifth and two in the seventh to push the Rams to extra innings for the third time in the week. Junior catcher Ally Vergona delivered a clutch double in the top of the eight, which scored two runs and pushed the score to 8-6. Mayer shut the door in the bottom of the frame, picking up the win for herself after throwing five innings in relief.
The final game of the weekend accentuated the point that the team has the ability to step up. The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the sixth when the Rams blew the lid off of the game. They scored seven runs in the frame, coming in part from four straight doubles to start the inning, as well as a Vergona solo homerun at the end. Mayer, relieving Quense in the sixth, picked up her second win of the weekend and her fifth of the year to stretch the win streak to 11 games. She maintained a 2.47 ERA and hit .632 for the week, which earned her A-10 Player of the Week honors.
Coach Bridget Orchard had high praise for both of her pitchers. “Lindsay Mayer and Lauren Quense were huge in the circle and just grinded it out” she said. “They both battled adversity and kept us in the games so we could finish it with our bats.”
Orchard praised the team’s performance as one of the greatest thus far. “It really showed the team’s character and how strong they are,” she said. “We had a different hero every day and that was so cool to see.”
Although the Rams have the ability to win without Gillen, they will be more than happy to have her back. “Rachel got the results back and it was positive news, so she should be back soon,” Orchard said. “She sprained her thumb and we will have to see how healing goes but I know she is anxious to get back to playing.”
The Rams next play in a Saturday a doubleheader against Saint Louis at Bahoshy Field, starting at 12 p.m.