By Michael Battista
The softball team entered the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament with high hopes, but returned with mixed results. The Lions faced a crushing loss to William Paterson, but edged out a close win against Rowan University. However, they were finally eliminated from the tournament after a defeat by Kean University.
The College’s first tournamant game came on Tuesday, April 28, against William Paterson in Wayne, N.J.
The Pioneers had a strong start, and that was all they needed in the long run. The bottom of the first saw five runs earned for William Paterson off of three separate hits, giving the Lions a lot of ground to cover early.
William Paterson’s pitching kept the College at bay by shutting them down at the plate for the entire game, leaving them unable to gain any momentum.
The College’s pitcher, junior Katie Hourihan, who came in to relief pitch during the first inning for junior Ashtin Helmer, kept the Pioneers scoreless for the rest of the game. This gave the Lions a fighting chance to try and make up ground.
But it was not to be, as the Lions went hitless and lost the game, 5-0.
The team had to move on, though, since every win counted for them to stay alive in the tournament. Their next tournament game was against Rowan University on Friday, May 1, in Glassboro N.J.
The matchup started out as a pitchers duel, with neither one letting up a run or several hits.
Helmer, who picked up the loss at William Paterson, redeemed herself with a complete six innings of work by keeping the Profs to seven hits.
“Tournament games are the important games,” Helmer said. “They’re the ones you need to really show up for, both physically and mentally. They’re what the season is all about.”
A double in the top of the sixth gave Rowan a one-run lead, but it didn’t last long. Freshman first baseman Bria Bartsch lined a single up the middle to score a run for the Lions, and junior catcher Jamie Purcell was able to reach first base on a fielding error, scoring another run later in the inning.
While the Profs had a few chances, the College was able to hold on to pick up the win, 2-1.
Helmer said the teamwork of the squad is what really gave them an edge.
“We played together,” she said. “Everyone gave it their all, and we left everything on the field. Every aspect of our game was on, and we were unbeatable.”
The team didn’t have to wait long for their next game as it was the following day, Saturday, May 2, against Kean University in Glassboro.
The team had a rough beginning once again and Kean took full advantage in the first. The Cougars scored a total of six runs in the first inning off of two singles, a double, a triple and a fielder’s choice against Lions’ pitchers Helmer and freshman Sam Platt.
Platt helped the team score a run in the second inning with a double to right field, but Kean struck back with another run in the bottom half of the inning.
The third inning had more of the same, with the College getting a run, thanks to Purcell, but Kean scored two more runs after. For every step the Lions took, the Cougars were right there to counter back.
Junior Steph Vuono scored one more run for the College in the fourth off a fielder’s choice, but Kean’s excellent pitching and fielding prowess kept the rest of the game scoreless, leading the Lions to a 9-3 loss and tournament elimination.
Helmer says that first inning put them in a difficult position early.
“We had a rough first inning that put us in a hole,” she said. “We continued to fight each inning, but couldn’t get the win.”