Columbia University 7, Rider University 6
Rider University 4, Columbia University 3
LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University softball team split the 2013 home opening doubleheader at Herb and Joan Young Field on Sunday afternoon, defeating Columbia University 4-3 in the night cap after coming up one run short, 7-6 in the first game.
"I was pretty pleased with most of the play today," said head coach Tricia Carroll. "I think we gave away a couple of at-bats in the first game but fought hard and got it close. We have good hitters; they just need some confidence and need to start putting the ball in play. We started to do that today and they were more composed as the day progressed."
Rider (2-11) was led by a four-hit day (two doubles) from freshman Dana Sensi (Allentown). Sensi also scored three times and walked twice.
"Dana plays way bigger than a freshman," Carroll said about Sensi and her four-hit day. "She came up with some monster hits."
Trailing 1-0 in the first inning of the second game, Sensi hit an RBI single, scoring junior Kehli Washington (Lulea, Sweden/New Rochelle) who led off with a walk. Sensi then scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Lauren Davies (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seneca Valley) as Rider (2-11) took a 2-1 lead.
Washington scored Rider's third run in the bottom of the second, coming around from first base on a fielding error by Columbia after a single from sophomore Allysen Breeden (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown). Breeden had two hits, two runs scored and three RBI on the day.
Washington, who has 97 career hits, scored three times in the doubleheader and walked twice.
After Columbia cut the Bronc lead to 3-2, Rider scored what turned out to be a big insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when sophomore Amanda Irving (Westminster, Md./Westminster) hit a two-out RBI single, scoring freshman Emily Cottrell (Beachwood/Toms River HS South) who led off the inning with a walk. Cottrell walked three times in the two games.
"Emily has been coming up with some really good at-bats," Carroll said. "And Amanda Irving that was a HUGE hit to get us that extra run."
Columbia (2-5) used two hits and a Rider error to plate one run in the top of the seventh inning for the final score.
"In the second game, we got just enough," Carroll said. "We played pretty solid defense."
Red-shirt freshman Krista Morrone (Pipersville, Pa./Palisades) went the distance, scattering eight hits and allowed two earned runs while recording three strikeouts.
"There were moments when Krista looked like a freshman," said Carroll. "And then there were moments, like the last inning that she was composed and did well. The good part for both the pitchers today is that they showed really good composure. Their presence on the mound is important and they are both working hard and doing well."
In the opener, despite six errors from Columbia, Rider's rally fell one run short as the Broncs lost 7-6.
Trailing 4-0, Rider scored one in the bottom of the third inning when Sensi scored after a Lion error.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Breeden launched her second home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field with a Cottrell sacrifice fly tying the game at 4-4.
Columbia immediate responded with a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning to take a 7-4 lead.
Rider used two Columbia errors and an RBI fielder's choice from Kim Valdes (Juniper, Fla./King's Academy) to get to within 7-5 and the Broncs used two more Lion errors and a Breeden RBI fielder's choice for the final score in the bottom of the seventh. Valdes had three hits on the day.
"Kim had a horrible first at-bat and then fixed it," Carroll said. "She made an adjustment and did exactly what we asked her to do."
The Broncs had the bases loaded in both the first and seventh innings but only plated one run out of both rallies combined as Rider left 14 runners on base.
"We are looking for the team to play with energy and composure and allow their ability and instincts to take over," Carroll added. "They did that and you saw some growth as a team during these two games. They need to play with energy and confidence. We are going to be in every game we play. There is nobody on our schedule that will overwhelm us. Our batting order is dangerous, even down three or four runs, we are always going to battle back. I know this group can be very good."
Freshman Montana Berg (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista) took the loss, working a complete game with three strikeouts while scattering nine hits and allowing four earned runs.
Rider and Columbia have now met 32 times with the Broncs winning 14 times.
The Broncs used a two-out rally in the top of the eighth inning in 2012 to split a doubleheader in New York, earning a 3-0 win in the opener before losing 3-0 in the nightcap. Columbia swept Rider in 2011 (9-1, 10-1). In 2010, the teams met four times (twice in Florida) with the Broncs taking three out of four. Columbia won two out of three from Rider in 2009.
Rider hosts future Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opponent Monmouth University in a single game on Wednesday, March 13 at 3pm at Herb and Joan Young Field on the Lawrenceville campus.
"Monmouth is a very good team," said Carroll. "The Northeast Conference made a commitment to compete at a very high level several years ago and they are a very good squad. Wednesday will be a test and with them coming into the MAAC next season, they will be looking to make a statement. It will give us a solid look at where we are and where we need to go."