By Jonah Haskell
The weather may be frigid, but the Fordham Rams have been scorching hot in March, as they opened their conference season over the weekend by dominating Rhode Island from the first pitch to the last of a three-game sweep. All aspects of the Rams’ game were on display as Fordham batters combined to score 34 runs in 15 innings, while Fordham pitchers locked down their opponents with three consecutive shutouts. With the victories, Fordham’s record in March improves to an outstanding 13-3, and they are now 23-7 on the season.
“Our bats really came alive, and we did it one through nine, which was great for us,” said head coach Bridget Orchard. “As a whole team we did really well. From defense, pitching, hitting, it was a great weekend.”
The Rams of Fordham opened their weekend series against the Rams of Rhode Island with a doubleheader on Saturday in the Bronx. Fordham jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first when senior CF Sydney Canessa hit a two-run homer and when senior 3B Lindsay Mayer knocked an RBI single to left before scoring when Rhode Island shortstop Jenna Cubello booted a grounder.
Senior Lauren Quense started in the pitching circle for Fordham, and she was in her regular form, allowing just one hit over five scoreless innings. Quense got in on the fun at the plate as well, hitting a solo shot in the third to give herself a 5-0 margin to work with.
The Rams put the final nails in the coffin in the fifth, when both senior Amy Van Hoven and junior Madison Shaw walked with the bases loaded to give Fordham a 7-0 lead. Mayer then came to the plate, sending a grand slam to left center for an 11-0 lead. Quense would come on in the top of the fifth to shut down Rhode Island and give Fordham the runs-rule win.
The second game of the day started in very similar fashion, as Fordham gave their pitcher an early lead with a five-run first inning. Van Hoven singled home sophomore Jessica Hughes following a lead-off double and scored to make it 3-0 when Shaw homered to right. Mayer was up next, and achieved a rare feat when she hit a home run that was not only back-to-back with Shaw’s homer, but was also her second homer in as many at-bats after her grand slam in game one. That made it 4-0, and the Rams would get one more before the end of the inning when freshman Madison Auginbaugh scored on sophomore Chelsea Skrepenak’s double.
Auginbaugh, who started in the circle, sent down Rhode Island batter after Rhode Island batter. In the end she allowed just five hits in five innings, with no walks, while striking out five to earn the win.
The Rams’ bats were alive again in the second when they got four runs, courtesy of a wild pitch, an RBI groundout and Quense’s second homer of the day, a two-run shot to center. They would add another in the third to make it 10-0, and in the fourth junior Morgan Figueroa walked with the bases loaded Jessica Hughes drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Canessa hit a two-run double for a 14-0 lead. That would be the final score as Auginbaugh worked a scoreless fifth to end it.
Fordham was back at it on Sunday, winning the third and final game of the series 9-0 in five innings. But this time Fordham was unable to get out to a big lead early, as they only scored one run in the first two innings, courtesy of a Shaw sacrifice fly. But Coach Orchard was not worried, as freshman Taylor Stocks, who started as pitcher, was dealing. Stocks tossed five scoreless innings for the win, facing just two more than the minimum possible of 15 batters, while striking out five in her first conference game.
“That’s huge for her, obviously being a freshman,” said Orchard. “She had a lot of confidence, a lot of poise and I really think she got ahead of batters. She came right at them and really challenged them so it was great.”
Fordham would eventually break the game open with a five run fifth that started with an Van Hoven RBI double. Skrepenak then singled home another run to make it 3-0, and Orchard put freshman Skylar Johnston in to pinch hit for Stocks with the bases loaded. Johnston did not miss the opportunity, cracking a double into the gap in right center to clear the bases and giving the Rams a 6-0 advantage.
“[Johnston] has been struggling lately, so I knew that spot was a big spot to put her in,” said Orchard. “But I knew she was so ready to break through. I was glad she was able to come out when it counted.”
The Rams would take a 9-0 lead in the fourth when Shaw drove in two with a single and Skrepenak hit an RBI double, and that would prove to be enough for the Rams. Stocks came out to send the Rhode Island Rams down in the top of the fifth to give Fordham the win.
The Rams are now off to a 3-0 start in conference play and while Fordham’s stars have definitely been performing, Orchard made sure to spread credit for the hot start around.
“It wasn’t just relying on our top three or four batters. Our eights and nines are getting big hits and big RBIs. They’re getting on base,” said Orchard.
The Rams are in action at home this week, first against Stony Brook on Wednesday, March 29. They then have a double header against St Joseph’s on Saturday, April 1, and finish up that series the following day.