Marist College 2, Rider University 0 / 11 innings
Rider University 10, Marist College 7
LAWRENCEVILLE--Junior Alyssa Paul (Toms River/Toms River HS East) hit a two-out RBI double to break a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning and freshman Gina McCool (Marlton/Cherokee) followed with a two-run triple down the right field line as the Rider University softball team salvaged a split with Marist College on Sunday afternoon at Herb and Joan Young Field in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader.
Paul had three hits, three RBI and scored twice in the second game with McCool also adding three hits and three RBI.
"I try not to think about too much when I'm at the plate," Paul said about the eventual game-winning hit. "It is important to have a clear mind and stay relaxed. I knew what I had to do to score some runs and I was able to get a pitch to hit and drive it into the outfield."
"I'm proud of the team and how they responded after a tough game one loss and also how we responded after giving up a 5-0 lead," said head coach Tricia Carroll. "I like the energy of this team and I like the attitude. We've asked some young players to come up in some big spots and sometimes mistakes are going to happen. It is how we respond to those mistakes that will determine just how good this team can be."
After being held scoreless over 11 innings in the opener, Rider (15-24-1, 4-2 MAAC) jumped out to a 5-0, first inning lead in the night cap, on four hits including a two-run single up the middle by junior Heather Muscara (North Bellmore, N.Y./Mepham) and a two-run single to left field by senior Lucy Higgins (Westminster, Mass./Notre Dame Academy). Muscara had two of Rider's 13 hits in game two and had four hits on the day.
After Marist (20-19, 4-2 MAAC) cut the Bronc lead to 5-3, Rider scored twice in the third inning on a two-run single by Paul.
The Red Foxes put together three hits in a row, all with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, scoring four times to tie the game at 7-7.
"No matter what happens the inning before, you have to have the mind set to battle back," Paul added. "You can't worry about what just happened because if you do, the mistakes multiply and we couldn't afford to have that happen."
"The team is coachable," Carroll added. "We made a few mistakes that allowed Marist to tie the game and then we responded and retook the lead. The players get that we are trying to make them better players and put them in positions to be successful."
Despite 10 hits in the opener and 10 shutout innings from Matreale, Rider lost to the Red Foxes 2-0 on an 11th inning two-run home run. Matreale tied a career-high with 13 strikeouts and scattered eight hits. The teams combined for 23 runners left on base, 13 by Rider in what was a 0-0 game through 10 innings.
"Rachael pitched great," Paul said. It was frustrating and we didn't come through for her. It was a rough game but that is something we have to learn from. We needed to bounce back in the second game because if we would have been feeling bad for ourselves, we would have lost both games."
"Marist was one hit better in the opener game," Carroll said. "They (Marist) made some great defensive plays; we made some great defensive plays and it came down to just that one pitch after almost three hours of play. That's how the games in the MAAC are. The first game, except for the ending was awesome. It was a fun day of softball."
Marist and Rider last met on April 9, 2011 in Poughkeepsie, New York when the Red Foxes won 3-1 and 9-0.
Rider swept the Red Foxes by 8-4 and 8-0 scores in 2010 and split the two games in Poughkeepsie in 2009. The Broncs have won 16 of the 44 games in the series.
"I'm proud that we stood toe to toe with the best hitting team in the conference," Carroll said. "One through nine, Marist is good and we gave them our best effort and in all honesty, either team could have taken both games. I hope these games reinforce to our team how good we have a chance to be."
The 10 runs is a season-high for Rider and the Broncs last scored 10 times in a game against Hartford at the Rebel Spring Games on March 13, 2011, in a 10-9, 11 inning win.
The start of play was delayed by almost an hour when Marist's bus missed the exit for Rider off the New Jersey Turnpike and wound up near Elmer, New Jersey, over an hour south of campus, near Atlantic City.
Rider travels to Iona on April 21 for a MAAC doubleheader in New Rochelle, New York.