Fordham responded to adversity in a big way at the Florida Gulf Coast Spring Break Classic last weekend, making the most of its third challenging destination of the young 2020 season.
The Rams dropped the first two, 4-1 and 3-1 decisions to Southern Illinois University and Florida Gulf Coast University, respectively, and saw their record drop to 1-11 and losing streak plunge to seven.
“We sat after and talked it over as a team and decided that we needed to do something different and really come together on the field,” Aughinbaugh said. “We did that, and I think we all did a great job of buying into the process for the last three games of the weekend and it showed.”
Freshman Devon Miller was sturdy in the opener, permitting four runs across 5.1 innings, but two sixth-inning home runs haunted the Rams, who were thoroughly dominated by Southern Illionois freshman hurler Sarah Harness.
Senior Madie Aughinbaugh followed suit with an even better effort, surrendering seven hits and three runs in a complete game loss to FGC. Fordham could not garner any pressure offensively, mustering four hits, with Aughinbaigh knocking in the lone run on an error.
With two losses using their one-two punch atop the rotation, the Rams needed a spark behind junior Anne Marie Prentiss, who took the circle against Harvard University.
She delivered to start Saturday in style, holding the Crimson to two runs (both unearned) in her second career complete game and first victory of the season, fanning a career-high six and allowing only three hits and one walk. With the game tied at two in the seventh, staff ace Aughinbaugh came through at the dish, drilling a walk-off double to the left-center field gap, scoring sophomore Sarah Taffet all the way from first.
With the 3-2 victory, the Rams rediscovered life that had been nonexistent over the previous seven games and carried it into the nightcap.
In game two, Aughinbaugh tied her career-high with nine full innings pitched in an extra-inning affair with UMass Lowell, struck out a season-high nine batters and picked up her first win of the year.
“Nope,” she swiftly said in response to any doubt she would reach the finish line, “That was my game.”
Aubree Barney’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth scored Aughinbaugh from third and was all the reigning Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the year would need. A quick 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the ninth gave the Ram captain her first win of the season.
“I think my catcher and I worked well together,” Aughinbaugh said. “We were getting into a good rhythm and on the same page about pitch calling. We did a good job of not letting batters get complacent on one side of the plate, and I think that was the difference by the end of the weekend.”
Devon Miller followed Aughinbaugh’s mastery with five strong innings of her own on Sunday against Michigan State University, allowing only six hits and one unearned run. Fordham captured the lead on an Aughinbaugh two-run dinger in the fourth, and never relinquished the lead thanks to its captain.
Aughinbaugh’s two-inning save took just 20 pitches, capping off a 3-1 win and a weekend that saw the senior pitch 17 innings of four-run ball, tally two complete games, a win and a save, while scoring a game-winning run and jacking a go-ahead home run.
“It felt good to finally step up for my team when they needed me,” Aughinbaugh said. “We were on the losing end of a couple of one run games the two weekends prior, so it was awesome to help my team come out on the winning end of it.”