By Jonah Haskell
Another weekend, another successful trip down south for the Rams. This weekend, Fordham’s softball team was in Orlando, Florida for the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic I, where their opponents included the Czech national team and #3 Florida. Despite the stiff competition, the Rams still managed to go 4-1 en route to sweeping this week’s Atlantic 10 awards.
On Monday the A-10 announced Fordham senior Lauren Quense as Pitcher of the Week for the third consecutive time (this week she shares the award with McKenzie Peace of La Salle), while sophomore Jess Hughes captured Player of the Week honors and freshman Madison Auginbaugh took home Rookie of the Week. Hughes, who went 5-10 with two extra base hits and scored four runs over the weekend, has never won Player of the Week before, but Fordham head coach Bridget Orchard was not surprised.
“She is very clutch and is able to drive in runs,” said Orchard. “Key was that the batters ahead of her got on base.”
And that was Orchard’s main point. Despite a weekend in which three Fordham players were honored with individual accolades, it was the full effort of the team that allowed the Rams to come home from Florida with four wins and just one loss in hand.
Fordham first saw action in Orlando on Friday, when they triumphed, 8-2 over the Czech Republic in an exhibition game.
“It was great to play the Czech team,” Orchard said. “An opportunity to play against a national team and learn from them was a great experience.”
The Rams played their first competitive game of the weekend later that same day, as they fell, 4-0, to Florida. The game began as a great pitcher’s duel, as Quense and her Gators counterpart Delanie Gourley did not allow any runs for the first five innings.
But after Gourley retired the Rams in the top of the fifth, the Gators finally got to Quense. An RBI single by 1B Kayli Kvistad broke the deadlock, and four batters later Jordan Roberts launched one over the left center field wall with two on to give Florida a 4-0 lead that would stand till the final out.
Fordham came out on Saturday looking for more success and they found it in the morning against Elon, as they romped to a 10-2 win. Elon opened the scoring in the first, when Morgan Reich scored on Walker Barbee’s RBI single off Quense, who started on the mound Fordham.
Quense settled down after that and Fordham came to bat down 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth. With one out and two on, Fordham’s sophomore OF Chelsea Skrepenak lofted a fly ball to center that was dropped by Elon CF Kara Shutt, allowing a run to score. Junior Morgan Figueroa and senior Amy Van Hoven followed with singles to give Fordham a 3-2 lead.
Fordham CF Sydney Canessa then stepped up and broke the game open with a three run, bases clearing double to give Fordham a 6-2 lead. The next inning, sophomore Jess Hughes came up with the bases loaded and swept them clean once again with a triple, on which she herself scored on an error to complete a four-run play. That would activate the mercy rule and Fordham won 10-2 in five innings.
The Rams’ second game on Saturday, against Oakland, was more of a contest. Fordham got on the board early, when Canessa doubled home Hughes in the top of the first for a 1-0 lead. The Rams tacked on another one an inning later when senior 3B Lindsay Mayer scored on a single by Figueroa. From there freshman starter Madison Auginbaugh took over the game, tossing a shutout that earned her the 2-0 win and A-10 Rookie of the Week honors.
But Auginbaugh nearly lost her scoreless start with two outs in the seventh, when Oakland shortstop Jamie Squire lifted a high fly to deep center that looked like it would cut Fordham’s lead in half. But Canessa had different ideas, as she raced back to the wall and made a stunning catch to rob Squire of a home run and secure the victory for Auginbaugh and the Rams.
“She really came back this season on a mission,” said Orchard. “And it is great knowing that any ball hit in the outfield, she will do whatever it takes to catch it.”
Fordham still had one more game to go as they faced Georgia Southern on Sunday morning. Quense was back on the mound and back in stellar form for the Rams, as she threw five scoreless innings, with six strikeouts, in a dominant 7-0 win.
On the offensive front, Fordham jumped on the board first when Georgia Southern SS Alesha Mann whiffed on Van Hoven’s bases-loaded grounder, allowing two runs to score. The Rams were back at it in the fourth, when getting two runs from a sac fly and a fielding error, and again in the sixth, when Shaw and Hughes hit one and two run singles, respectively. Freshman Taylor Stocks came on for Quense and pitched a scoreless two innings to close out the game.
The Rams are now 10-4 through the first three weeks of the season. Coach Orchard attributes this mainly to what she described as “a total team effort.”
“Our pitchers are having a great start and a lot of that has to do with the defense behind them and them trusting them.”
The Rams’ out-of-conference schedule continues next weekend, as they travel to North Carolina for the NC State Tournament. Their first game will be on Friday, March 3, at 10 a.m. against Lehigh.