Rider University 10, Iona College 6
Iona College 10, Rider University 5 / 8 innings
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Doubleheader
LAWRENCEVILLE—The Rider University softball team split a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader against Iona College on Sunday afternoon at Herb and Joan Young Field.
“This team has been dealt things that in my 28 years of coaching, I have not seen,” said head coach Tricia Carroll. “I am so proud of the way we are handling things and competing. This group is a lot of fun to be around.”
For Rider (7-31, 3-5 MAAC), senior Kehli Washington (Lulea, Sweden/New Rochelle) had five hits on the day and scored four times.
“I felt really good at the plate,” Washington said. “It felt good to help the team by getting on base. The fact that we battled back and didn’t give up is awesome.”
Rider won the opener 10-6, despite being out-hit by Iona.
In the opener, Rider jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead, including a three-run home run by freshman Dana Sensi (Allentown). For Sensi, who had three hits on the day, it was her team-leading fifth home run of the season.
Iona bunched together five of its 12 hits to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the fourth inning.
The Broncs rallied right back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore Allysen Breeden (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) hit an RBI single with the bases loaded and the bases were cleared on the ensuing Iona error to give the Broncs a 7-4 lead.
Sophomore Amanda Irving (Westminster, Md./Westminster) hit a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth inning, putting the Broncs ahead 9-4 and freshman Kim Valdes (Jupiter, Fla./King's Academy) hit her first collegiate home run to give Rider a six-run cushion. Irving had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI in the opener, five hits on the day and has now hit safely in 12 straight games. Valdes had four hits, three RBI and scored twice in the doubleheader.
Iona (8-28, 4-4 MAAC) scored two runs on three hits in the top of the seventh inning for the final score.
Freshman Ali Meagher (Clark/Arthur L. Johnson) went the distance, recording one strikeout for her first collegiate win.
“A week ago, we don’t know if we have Ali for the rest of the season due to a possible stress fracture and here, she is standing as our only healthy pitcher,” Carroll said. “She wasn’t recruited to have to pitch every inning four games in a row, none of the pitchers were. Like all of the rookies, we wanted to work everyone into a role and it just hasn’t happened that way. I’m proud of how she has stepped up, her poise was great.”
In the nightcap, despite out-hitting the Gaels, Rider lost a wild 10-5 decision in extra innings after leaving 16 runners on base.
Iona took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on four hits, including a two-run single with two outs.
The Gaels used an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to open up a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning.
Rider rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, on an RBI single by Sensi and a two-run single by Valdes, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Sensi had three hits and four RBI on Sunday.
Iona took advantage of a Rider error to plate one run in the top of the seventh to lead 5-3 heading into the bottom of the frame.
The Broncs would not go down quietly as sophomore Gina McCool (Marlton/Cherokee) doubled and with one out, sophomore Lauren Davies (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seneca Valley) launched her first home run of the season to send the game into extra innings. Davies entered the game batting .142.
“In the last few games, I’ve been letting good pitches go by,” Davies said about her approach to the at-bat in the seventh inning. “I was just looking to put a good swing on the pitch and it went over the fence. I knew I hit it far and it felt really good to tie the game.”
“The comeback shows we aren’t willing to give up and throw everything away,” Washington said. “We take things one at a time and we know we can score runs and that keeps us in games.”
“Lauren has generally had a nice swing,” Carroll said. “A lot of times, she has just missed squaring up on the ball. She is starting to get the ball in her contact zone and when she squares it up, she can be dangerous.”
The Broncs have scored 29 runs in its last four games.
“We are going to score runs,” Carroll said. “We have 12 home runs by five different players and we have decent speed. We can’t ask for anything more, we are out there competing and they are doing everything we ask of them. They are a passionate group of players and we are going to be fine.”
“We are a resilient group,” Davies said. “We know we can stage comebacks if we keep battling and we did that multiple times today.”
Rider made a crucial error on a sacrifice bunt in the top of the eighth inning and Iona used three hits and a sacrifice fly to plate five runs for the final score.
The Broncs opened the bottom of the eighth inning with three straight singles but the rally was short lived after Rider lined into a double play with the final batter retired by strikeout to end the game.
Meagher threw all eight innings in the second game, recording two strikeouts while allowing five earned runs.
“Five of our six conference games, we were in them and we could easily be 5-1 in the MAAC,” Carroll added. “We need to just continue to compete and play for each other.”
Rider and Iona split two games in New Rochelle, New York last season with the Broncs winning 1-0 and losing 5-3 in the second game. Iona swept Rider 6-0 and 2-1 in 2011 in Lawrenceville and the Gaels won both games in New Rochelle (1-0 and 11-1) in 2010. Rider has won 18 of the 33 games all-time in the series. The teams split in Lawrenceville in 2009 with Rider winning the second game 4-3.
Rider travels to Delaware on Wednesday for a non-conference game at 3pm.