Fordham Softball Drops First Conference Series of the Season


After losing this three-game series, the Rams only lead the Minutewomen by one game in the A-10 standings. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

By Emmanuel Berbari

The first round of the Fordham-UMass softball rivalry, 2019 edition, went the way of the Minutewomen this weekend in UMass’ quest to dethrone Fordham as Atlantic 10 champions, which it was one game away from accomplishing in 2018. UMass was able to close out the competitive series, as was highlighted by a 4-1 win in Sunday’s rubber game, handing the Rams their first conference series loss of the season.

With the loss, Fordham fell to 24-22 overall and 15-5 in league action, while the University ofMassachusetts creeped closer toward the top of the standings, improving to 23-19 and 11-4, respectively.

After dropping the series opener 6-3 in the first leg of Saturday’s doubleheader by virtue of another Madie Aughinbaugh complete game win, UMass showcased its resiliency, grabbing the final two games of the series and never trailing Sunday’s finale.

The Minutewomen teed off freshman pitcher Makenzie McGrath in Saturday’s nightcap, pushing across 11 runs (eight earned) in her six innings of work, cruising to a 11-6 victory. In the series finale, UMass struck first when senior Kaycee Carbone banged a first-inning RBI double off Aughinbaugh, and never looked back. Senior Kaitlyn Stavinoha crushed a two-run homer in the third to provide much-needed insurance. Fordham senior Jordy Storm laced her 10th homer of the season in the fourth, a solo shot that crept the Rams within striking distance, but ultimately did not spark a rally in the 4-1 loss.

Fordham felt extremely comfortable handing the ball to Aughinbaugh with the series on the line, but her first loss in conference play haunted the Rams in the finale. In her 14th conference start, the previous 13 coming as victories, she allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits, walking none and striking out just three batters over six innings. If the Ram offense been clicking on all cylinders, that outing normally would have been enough.

Facing UMass junior ace Quinn Breidenbach, who scattered six hits over seven strong innings of one-run ball, a middling performance for Aughinbaugh’s standards would not be enough.

Breidenbach’s dominant performance spanned the entire weekend, firing 4.2 innings of one-run ball in the series opener, coming on in relief to keep the Minutewomen within striking distance and earning a complete game win on Saturday to pull her team level in the series. Despite allowing nine hits and six runs, only one run was earned, and Breidenbach made the necessary adjustments to come back and stifle Fordham on Sunday.

On the series, she allowed a total of three earned runs in 18.1 innings, a jaw-dropping effort over a three-day stretch.

After managing to plate six in the first two games, Fordham only collected six hits and a walk on Sunday.

The Rams return to the Bronx to round out the regular season this week. They host the Big East Conference leader St. John’s University on Wednesday afternoon in a sturdy non-conference challenge before resuming conference play with three games against Rhode Island to round out their slate.

With a strong performance this upcoming weekend, the Rams can secure first place in the Atlantic 10 once again.