By Jonah Haskell
This weekend the Fordham Rams traveled to Fairfax, Virginia, to take two of three games in a weekend series against conference rival George Mason. The Rams, who were on the road for the first time since mid-March, as they were led by strong performances in the circle by senior Lauren Quense and freshman Madison Auginbaugh, and while the offense struggled on the road, it was enough to bring Fordham’s season mark to an outstanding 29-9.
Fordham kicked off its weekend in the Washington D.C. suburbs with a double header on Saturday, as the Rams took the first game, 5-3 in nine innings, behind a complete game performance from Quense.
“Lauren has been throwing great and really excels when in tough challenging spots like extra innings,” said Fordham head coach Bridget Orchard.
Quense started out strong, shutting out George Mason for the first five innings, and her offense finally broke through to give the Rams a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth, when freshman 3B Skylar Johnston doubled home sophomore pinch runner Maria Trivelpiece and sophomore DP Jordy Storm. However, the Patriots were quick to respond against Quense in the bottom of the inning, when 2B Erin Calpin smacked a two-run double to left to tie the game.
From there, both pitchers would settle down, as Quense and her counterpart, Mariana Vitalich, traded zeroes into extras, but in the ninth, Vitalich (or, more accurately, her defense) blinked. Auginbaugh managed to reach on an error on the Patriots’ pitcher, then scored when senior Sydney Canessa’s flyball to centerfield was dropped, another error. Canessa was then able to score on a sacrifice fly from junior Madison Shaw and the Rams added another after senior Lindsay Mayer singled, advanced to third on an error and came home on Quense’s RBI groundout.
Quense would allow an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth, but held down the fort as the Rams came away with the 5-3, extra inning victory. In her masterful performance, the Fordham senior struck out eight, allowed only two earned runs and let only eight runners reach base to get the win.
“She has thrown a lot of innings.” said coach Orchard. “She has worked hard in the off season, to be able to throw so much you have to be great shape.”
The second game on Saturday was less of a nail biter as the Rams starter, Auginbaugh, tossed the second complete game of the day en route to a 5-2 victory. The Rams jumped on top early, as Auginbaugh helped out her cause with an RBI single to score Mayer in the first. The Patriots tied in back up in the fourth when Mary-Elizabeth Luttrell hit an RBI double off of Auginbaugh.
Fordham reclaimed the lead for good with four runs in the sixth, when sophomore Jess Hughes hit a bases-loaded single to give the Rams a 2-1 lead. Not to be out-done, Mayer followed with an RBI single of her own to make it 3-1, and Shaw, looking to out-do everybody, did the same, except that two runs were scored on her hit, making it a 5-1 game.
George Mason would manage an unearned run against Auginbaugh in the bottom of the seventh, but the comeback fell short, as the Rams swept the doubleheader with the 5-2 win.
In the final game of the series on Sunday, Quesne was back on the mound for Fordham and Vitalich made the start for the Patriots, this time Vitalich would come out on top. An epic pitching duel, similar to the one from the day before, ensued as both offenses were flummoxed by the opposing team’s ace. Fordham managed to scratch one across against Vitalich in the third, when senior Ally Vergona scored on Canessa’s infield single to shortstop.
The Patriots responded an inning later to tie it at one, all off a homer from Jess Curbeira, and the game once again seemed destined for extra innings as it entered the bottom of the seventh with that score. Just as George Mason’s defense had failed them a day earlier, Fordham’s defense proved to be its bane. With two outs and runners on second and third, back-up shortstop Mayer, playing for injured regular senior Amy Van Hoven, made an error on a grounder that allowed the winning run to score, walking off for the Patriots.
Despite the tough loss, Fordham had a good weekend in Fairfax, and coach Orchard is still confident in the ability of her back-up shortstop.
“Lindsay was recruited as a shortstop and has played there in high school and travel so we are confident she will improve the more she plays there,” she said. “It is a challenge after playing third for the last three years, but we are expecting big things from her both with the bat and on the field.”
After going 2-1 against George Mason, the Rams are now 29-9 overall and 7-2 in conference play. This week, Fordham has a few non-conference games as it take on Iona at home on Tuesday and then travel to Pennsylvania for a double-header against Lehigh on Wednesday.
Then, over the weekend, the Rams will be in Amherst, Massachusetts for a series against the University of Massachusetts, to kick off a less than three-week period during which they will play seven conference games. Despite the rough schedule, coach Orchard thinks her team will be ready.
“We are playing a lot of games, so it doesn’t leave much time to work on things, so we are trying to get as much as we can when we have the days to do it, especially defense when we can get on a field,” Orchard said. “Trying to keep it positive and keep the energy up for all the games. “