By Jonah Haskell
Central North Carolina will be a bit cleaner this week, courtesy of the Fordham Rams, who completed a sweep of the NC State Tournament in Raleigh on Sunday. Junior Jessica Hughes and sophomore Madison Shaw led an offensive explosion, and the Rams went 5-0 to raise their season record to an outstanding 15-4.
“It was a great weekend,” said Fordham head coach Bridget Orchard.
Fordham kicked off the tournament on Friday with a 4-2 win over Lehigh. Senior Lauren Quense started on the bump for the Rams and held the Mountain Hawks scoreless for a couple innings, but they got to her in the third when two runs scored on an RBI double and an error by senior shortstop Amy Van Hoven.
However, Van Hoven helped to get Fordham right back on top in the bottom of the inning when Lehigh shortstop Rachel Timberman whiffed on her ground ball, allowing junior LF Morgan Figueroa to score. Sophomore 2B Jess Hughes then scored on senior CF Sydney Canessa’s fielder’s choice to third, and Canessa came home when Lehigh’s catcher made a throwing error on Shaw’s otherwise harmless groundball.
Fordham’s 3-2 lead went up to 4-2 in the fourth when Hughes’ triple brought Ally Vergona home to score. Freshman Madison Auginbaugh came on for Quense after the third and held the Mountain Hawks scoreless for four innings to earn the win for both herself and for the Rams.
Later on Friday, Fordham faced Rutgers and jumped out to an early lead when Hughes jacked a solo home run to lead off the game. However, the Scarlet Knights got that run right back in the bottom of the inning on Nicole Bowman’s sac fly.
Fordham jumped back on top in the top of the second when Amy Van Hoven hit a two run double to make it a 3-1 game. Three batters later, Madison Shaw blew it wide open with grand slam to center to give the Rams a 7-1 lead.
Rutgers was able to get two more runs off of Rams starter Lauren Quense in the third, but she held them to that total and Fordham came to bat with a 7-3 lead in the fifth. They got a run on Sydney Canessa’s bunt single, and the game would end on the runs rule when Madison Shaw hit a three run bomb to give the Rams an 11-3 win in five innings.
“Madi Shaw has been locked in on offense and really hitting for a lot of power this year,” said Orchard. “Madi also is a competitor and wants to win. She gets fired up and helps lead the team”
Saturday would be another good day for the Rams, but it began badly as they fell behind in their first game against NC State. Hayley Kobziak erased Fordham’s early 1-0 lead with a two-run home run off of starter Quense in the second. The Wolfpack’s lead would widen in the fifth when Tyler Ross hit another two run jack, and they took a 5-1 lead in the sixth when Kobziak drove in Geena Autry with a single.
But the Rams rallied back in the top of the seventh, scoring a run when Lindsay Mayer walked with the bases loaded. Fordham then got two more on an error by NC State’s shortstop to make it a 5-4 game, and Lauren Quense gave the Rams the lead in style, launching a grand slam to center. Coach Orchard was ecstatic.
“It was awesome to see her hit that grand slam,” said Orchard.
The Wolfpack got a run off of Taylor Stocks in the bottom of the inning, but Quense came back on to close the game and give the Rams an 8-7 win.
Fordham faced Rutgers again in the second leg of the double-header that day, with a similar result as they came away with a 14-5 victory. Rutgers got on the board first but the Rams fought right back, scoring a run on a passed ball in the first and two in the second when Ally Vergona homered. Fordham then scored six in the third, courtesy of a fielder’s choice by from Lindsay Mayer, a home run from Shaw, singled from Maria Trivelpiece and Van Hoven and a throwing error.
Rutgers managed to stave off the runs-rule by scoring three in the top of the fifth, but Lindsay Mayer came up with a three run bomb in the bottom of the inning to end the match up as 14-5 Rams victory.
Fordham one more game set for Sunday, when they took on NC State again. This time the Rams did not mess around, scoring four in the first when Shaw hit a grand slam. The Wolfpack would get two back in the top of the second, but Fordham tacked on four more in the bottom of the inning on a pair of two run hits from Shaw and Van Hoven.
The Rams would go on to score eight runs in the fourth, including a home run from Mayer, and they would win the game, 16-0, in five innings.
The Rams are now 15-4 on the season and coach Orchard thinks there is a very good reason for her team’s success.
“Overall, the positive energy from all the players has helped everyone pick up their game and play well.”
Next week the Rams go to Miami and Boca Raton for the Florida Atlantic Tournament, their last trip down south before the return to the Northeast for the conference season. Fordham’s first home game at Bahoshy Field in the Bronx is on March 22 against Iona at 3 p.m.