The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday May 20th

TCNJ softball takes three in a row in conference play

<p><em>The Lions celebrating a victory (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator).</em></p>

The Lions celebrating a victory (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator).

By Joseph Caruso 
Staff Writer

The College's softball team defeated William Paterson twice in a doubleheader and then followed those victories up with an impressive victory over Stockton in the first round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament.

The Lions have had a dominant season so far, entering this stretch with a record of 23-9, including 9-6 in the NJAC. However, despite their winning season thus far, they sat just fifth in the loaded NJAC, with just two regular season games remaining. With a doubleheader against a struggling William Paterson squad, and then a playoff matchup with the fourth place Stockton Ospreys, it was now or never for the Lions. 

On April 27, the College traveled to Wayne to face off against the Pioneers of William Paterson University for two games. WPU had been having an abysmal season, entering this doubleheader with five wins to 25 losses on the year. 

The Lions had a much-needed roaring start in the opening game, scoring eight runs in the first three innings. Fifth-year center fielder Kaci Neveling had a day to remember at the plate, collecting a hit in all four of her plate appearances and totaling three RBIs in the first game. 

On the mound, standout sophomore pitcher Elizabeth Gosse tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just one baserunner all day to continue her stellar season. Gosse won NJAC Pitcher of the Week for her performances last week and is gunning for the honor for the second time this season. She has been flustering opposing offenses all year, now with an earned run average of just 1.68 on the season. 

After another run scored by the Lions, the game was called after five innings, as the College took the first matchup in blowout fashion, 9-0. 

In the latter half of the doubleheader, the Lion offense cooled off, being held to just eight hits on the day. However, they made plays when it mattered and held a 6-0 lead heading into the final two innings. It was another active game for Neveling, this time getting on base three times and finishing with a game-wrecking five stolen bases. That is the most stolen bases anyone in the NJAC has had in a single game, breaking her own record of four. Neveling now leads the conference in stolen bases with 40, which is 11 ahead of second place. 

Freshman pitcher Maya Knasiak got the call to pitch and was nearly perfect through the first five innings. Due to some poor defense in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Pioneers cashed in their first three runs, all unearned. Knasiak held on for the win while striking out 11 hitters, her highest number to date. The College took down William Paterson 6-3 and improved to 25-9. 

After taking care of the Pioneers, the Lions traveled to Galloway, New Jersey, to take on a much more formidable opponent in Stockton University in the first round of the NJAC Tournament. With an NJAC record of 13-5, the Osprey's conference play has resulted in them sitting above the College for fourth place. 

In a pivotal matchup, the Lions struck first, with an RBI from junior Mckayla Yard, scoring Neveling. Neveling had another big day, scoring three runs and stealing a pair of bases to go along with two hits. The College kept piling on, scoring one run in the third, sixth and seventh innings. 

Just four days after her shutout, the Lions relied on Gosse again to navigate the high-powered Osprey offense. She delivered, tossing five scoreless innings and allowing just three hits. She now holds the third best earned run average in the conference, at just 1.23 after this matchup. Knasiak entered the game and earned the save, her second of the season as the Lions defeated the Ospreys 4-0. 

The College now sits at 26-9 and is still fifth in the conference with a 12-6 record. They travel to Glassboro, New Jersey, to take on No. 1 Rowan University in the second round of the NJAC Tournament on May 4. 


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