PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 14, 2012) – Rutgers softball picked up a 4-3 victory in game one of a BIG EAST doubleheader with Villanova on Saturday afternoon at the RU Softball Complex, but suffered a fourth inning melt down to fall to 7-3 in game two. Freshman pitcher Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) earned her 13th victory of the season, while sophomore designated player Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) broke out of a slump, going 2-for-3 with a home run and a double in the win.
The Scarlet Knights (18-22, 7-8 BIG EAST) did not waste any time in game one, scoring two runs in the top of the first. RU took advantage of two Villanova errors to help score its first run and freshman Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.) singled down the left field line to score senior Brittney Lindley (Cicero, N.Y.) – who reached on her first of two walks in the contest.
Williams added to Rutgers advantage with a solo home run to lead off the second inning – breaking a streak of six hitless games for the sophomore – to put RU out in front 3-0.
The Wildcats (27-16, 1-9 BIG EAST) got one back in the top of the third, as the top of their lineup strung together four-straight singles.
RU continued to put runners on base, but would not score again until the bottom of the sixth. Williams picked up her second extra base hit of the afternoon, doubling to left center field. Senior catcher Kylee Bishop (Tacoma, Wash.) reached base on a fielding error by the VU shortstop, moving Williams to third. With senior outfielder Lindsey Curran (Monroe Township, N.J.) at the plate, the Scarlet Knights opted for the double steal, for the second time in the contest. Villanova catcher Amanda Marquez threw to the second baseman Briana Fujii, to catch Bishop in the rundown just long enough for Williams to cross the plate, to give Rutgers the 4-1 lead.
VU did not give up though. In the top of the seventh, a fielding error on Landrith put the leadoff runner on first and a single from left fielder Tessa Braga put runners on first and second. Junior first baseman Valerie Ortega singled into right field to load the bases with no outs. Kristi Burlin grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Jamie O’Hara from third and trimming the deficit to 4-2.
Landrith was able to get designated player Molly Manning to line out to second for the second out of the inning, with runners still at the corners in the two-run ball game. Freshman Beth Smetana notched an RBI single up the middle, bringing the Wildcats within one at 4-3. However, Landrith halted the comeback, getting Marquez to fly out to left field to end the contest.
Landrith allowed one earned run on eight hits in the complete game. Her 13 wins on the year is the most for an RU pitcher since Andria Koehler also recorded a 13-8 mark during the 2003 campaign. Leah Black (15-9) is the only Rutgers pitcher in this decade to register more wins in a single season than Landrith.
Senior pitcher Caitlyn Delahaba (13-9) tossed six innings, surrendering one earned run on six hits in the losing effort.
In game two, RU notched another first inning run, again taking advantage of a Villanova error. Curran reached on a misplayed ball by Burlin and stole second to move into scoring position. Junior second baseman Jennifer Harabedian (Flemington, N.J.) delivered a two-out single to score Curran.
Rutgers starting pitcher Abbey Houston (New Egypt, N.J.) escaped a couple of jams to throw three scoreless innings, before the Wildcats were able to explode for five runs on five hits in the fourth and a pair of errors from the Scarlet Knights’ defense, forcing to the exit of Houston.
RU chipped away at the lead as junior shortstop Ashley Bragg (Middletown, Del.) was able to beat out a ball fielded by the catcher and moved into scoring position on a single from freshman right fielder Jackie Bates (Lincroft, N.J.). A fielding error from the shortstop on a ball hit by Bishop kept the inning alive and Howard delivered with a two-run single, brining the score to 6-3. The Scarlet Knights looked to extend the inning as an intentional walk put Lindley on first and loaded the bases for Harabedian, however the junior jumped out in front of the pitch and fouled out to end the inning.
Villanova added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth to take the 7-3 victory.
Houston made two appearances in the contest for a total of 3.2 innings. She moves to 4-11 on the year after allowing four earned runs on nine hits. Senior Noelle Sisco (Towaco, N.J.) and sophomore Megan Williams (Richmond, Va.) both made appearances out of the bullpen. Sisco recorded 1.2 innings, surrendering two runs on four hits, while Williams faced six batters in 1.2 innings and recorded one strikeout.
Manning recorded her 11th win of the season (11-5) in the complete game effort. She allowed no earned runs in the contest and fanned five batters.
The deciding game of the series is set for Sunday at noon at the RU Softball Complex.
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