Rider University 6, Lehigh University 3
Lehigh University 5, Rider University 2
LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University softball team split a non-conference doubleheader against Lehigh University on Wednesday afternoon at Herb and Joan Young Field.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning in game one, freshman Allysen Breeden (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) hit her second home run of the season, a three-run shot that just cleared the leftfield fence, putting Rider (12-19-1) ahead 5-3.
"I had some good pitches that I let go by in previous at-bats," Breeden remembered. "I just put a good swing on it, just tried to hit it where it was pitched and it went out. The swing felt good. I just try to hit the ball hard and put it in play and put pressure on the defense."
"I knew Ally would hit the ball hard," head coach Tricia Carroll said. "She has been hitting the ball well. All day, I was pretty pleased with how we hit the ball. Lehigh made some great plays on defense in the second game that kept us off the board when we had base runners."
Breeden, a two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week honoree, went six for six in the two games against the Mountain Hawks and leads the team with a .363 batting average.
"The pitching at this level is good every game," Breeden said about the adjustments as a collegiate rookie. "There is no really bad pitching in Division I and I think I've made that adjustment real well so far."
Junior Alyssa Paul (Toms River/Toms River HS East) hit an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth inning for the final score. Paul had three hits on the day and added two RBI in the opener.
Alyssa is starting to come around for us," Carroll said.
Paul, who was struggling around the .200 batting average mark two weeks ago, hit .714 this past week and earned MAAC Player of the Week honors.
With Rider trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third, Paul hit an RBI double to right centerfield with junior Sam Pugh (Elkton, Md./Elkton) adding an RBI single as the Broncs tied the game at two. Pugh had two of Rider's 11 hits in game one.
Senior Rachael Matreale (Williamstown), a three-time MAAC Pitcher of the Week honoree, went the distance, recording six strikeouts for her 11th win of the season.
"Getting Heather on track is going to be big for us," Carroll said. "Really all of the young players have done well, Gina (McCool) defensively (12 plays without an error on Wednesday) and of course Ally has just been getting it done in big spots."
Rider threatened with the bases loaded in both the fifth and seventh innings but came away empty.
"Lehigh stole some plays from us in the fifth and seventh," Carroll added. "They just played some great solid defense and we hit it hard. Not much you can do about that. We can't afford to give away at-bats but I think Lehigh took some of those at-bats away with their defense as well."
Breeden hit an infield single to second base as Rider took a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Two walks, two balks and two singles put Lehigh ahead 3-1 in the second inning.
The Broncs got to within 3-2 in the third inning with Muscara scoring on the back end of a double steal.
Lehigh (20-14) pushed across two insurance runs in the sixth inning on four hits for the final score.
Sophomore Krysti Maronski (Woodbury Heights/GCIT) went the first four innings, allowing three earned runs, recording one strikeout but allowing five walks.
Senior Kelsey Krisch (Parker, Colo./Council Rock HS North) went the final three frames, scattering six hits.
Rider has won five of its last seven games and seven of the last 11.
Rider and Lehigh last met on April 28, 2011 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with the Mountain Hawks winning the opener 6-0 and the Broncs taking the nightcap 8-4.
In 2009, the Mountain Hawks won 8-6 in eight innings and 13-6 in Lawrenceville. Rider has won 33 of the 48 games all-time against Lehigh with the Mountain Hawks winning 12 of the last 22 meetings since 2001.
"Lehigh is a very good team," Carroll added about the Mountain Hawks. "They win 40 games each year on a regular basis and splitting with them is good. With all of the chances we had in the second game, a sweep wasn't out of the question but they bent and did not break."
Rider hosts Saint Peter's in a MAAC doubleheader at 1pm on Saturday.
"We've been putting the ball in play and getting runners in motion and I expect that will continue on Saturday," Breeden added. "We're looking to get a sweep."
"This team feels good and they compete," said Carroll. "They are playing well and believing in each other and are gaining confidence. We expect to continue that effort on Saturday. We know we are capable of putting runs up and shutting down the opponent."