PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Feb. 13, 2014) – The Rutgers softball team kicks off the 2014 season on Friday, Feb. 14 in San Antonio, Texas, as the squad opens the year in the University of Texas at San Antonia Roadrunner Classic for the second consecutive season.
RU will play five games in the Lone Star State tournament, beginning with a Friday doubleheader against Colorado State (10 a.m.) and Wichita State (12:30 p.m.). The Scarlet Knights will then take on Oklahoma State (3 p.m.) and UTSA (5:30 p.m.) on Saturday, Feb. 15 before wrapping up the tournament with a 10 a.m. matchup on Sunday, Feb. 16.
Rutgers welcomes eight freshmen and one sophomore transfer in 2014 after graduating four seniors last spring. This weekend’s games represent the first of a 56-game schedule, including a 16-game home slate.
The Scarlet Knights return their top three hitters from last season in seniors Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Alexis Durando (Oakland, N.J.) and junior Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.). Williams set a new single-season record with 197 at-bats as RU’s leadoff hitter in 2013, leading the squad with 62 hits and a .315 average. Howard tied for the team lead with 11 doubles and hit .305 on the season, as Durando hit .304 and led the team with a .497 slugging percentage.
The squad also returns its two pitchers return in junior Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) and sophomore Dresden Maddox (Kennesaw, Ga.). Landrith led the squad with s 17-15 record and 2.47 ERA, while Maddox went 10-6 in her rookie campaign with a 3.38 ERA.
Scouting Colorado State
The Scarlet Knights open and close the UTSA Roadrunner Classic with games against Colorado State, which enters the tournament 4-1 after a successful showing at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. The Rams lone blemish came in their final game at the tourney on Sunday, Feb. 9, when the squad fell, 4-2, to Cal State-Northridge. RU faces Cal State Northridge next weekend.
The Rams own a .293 team batting average after the opening weekend of play, led by junior Danielle Wikre. Wikre is hitting .643 (9-for-14) in five games played with two home runs a double and four RBIs. In all five players own batting average of at least .333, while senior Ashlie Ortega has knocked it nine runs and hit three doubles after one weekend of action.
Sophomore pitcher Holly Reinke has been a force in the circle, beginning the season 2-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 10 strikeouts.
Scouting Wichita State
Wichita State is RU’s second test of the tournament and enters with a perfect 4-0 record. The Shockers swept their way through the Lady Techster Invitational, closing the weekend with a 3-0 win over St. Louis on Sunday, Feb. 9. The squad has been impressive from the plate through five games, as six players are hitting over .300 for a .305 team batting average. Freshmen Paige Luellen and Kellie Spring lead the team with seven hits apiece, while Luellen has recorded nine RBIs.
Senior left-hander Sloan Anderson has seen the most action from the circle, tossing 14.2 innings in the first three games for a 3-0 record and 4.91 ERA.
Scouting Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State heads into the weekend 2-3 after dropping a pair of close games last weekend at the LSU Softball Classic. The Cowgirls opened the season with two straight victories, but lost their next three contests, including a pair of 1-0 games against No. 21/21 LSU (Feb. 8) and No. 24/22 Minnesota (Feb. 9).
Sophomore Danielle Riddle (.400), junior Shelby Davis (.350) and senior Shannon Kaufman (.300) lead the team in batting average through five games, with Davis currently atop the list with eight RBIs.
Cowgirl senior Simone Freeman was lights out in her four outings, compiling a 0.31 ERA and holding hitters to just a .128 average. Three of Freeman’s four appearances were complete games.
Offensively, UTSA has proven to have the most lethal offense of RU’s upcoming weekend opponents. The Roadrunners are 4-0 and are hitting .347 as a team, also averaging 9.8 runs per game. UTSA beat swept Lamar in a three-game set to begin the season before upsetting No.16/15 Texas, 4-2, on Wed., Feb. 12.
The Longhorns jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning before UTSA bounced back down the stretch, going ahead for good in the fifth inning courtesy of a two-run homer run by junior Megan Low, the squad’s leading hitter.
Low is on a torrid pace through four games, hitting .583 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. Meanwhile, the Roadrunners are getting it done in the circle, led by freshman right-hander Nicole Merrill, who owns a 2-0 record and 3.50 ERA. The rookie has gone two complete games and is holding hitters to just .217 from the plate.
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