CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 16, 2014) – A solo shot by junior left fielder Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.) three batters into the Rutgers softball team’s contest against UMass set the Scarlet Knights’ scoring in motion, as the team tallied nine more runs on its way to a 10-4 win.
The Scarlet Knights (11-7) extended their winning streak to six-straight against the Minutewomen, the program’s longest since winning six consecutive games from March 15-20 last season. That streak also began in Clearwater, Fla., and preceded to squad’s conference-opening weekend.
Freshman right-hander Shayla Sweeney (Barrington, N.J.) tossed a solid 6.0 innings in the relief outing, allowing just two earned runs on eight hits and no walks. She struck out two and moved to 4-3 with the win.
Sophomore right-hander Dresden Maddox (Kennesaw, Ga.) threw an inning in the no-decision, allowing three hits and two earned runs.
Following Howard’s solo shot to start the game, sophomore shortstop Melanie Slowinski (Severn, Md.) picked up where she left off after RU’s Sunday opener with an RBI-single to give Rutgers a 2-0 edge. But UMass quickly responded with two runs in the bottom of the first courtesy of a two-run blast by Lindsey Webster, tying the game at 2-2 after one.
An inning later Rutgers took a lead it would not relinquish, scoring four runs in the fifth, a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to secure the final, 10-4 win.
Freshman third baseman Danielle Demarco (Brookfield, Conn.) entered to pinch hit in the fifth inning and beamed a two-RBI single – her second two-run hit of the day – to make it a 5-2 game. Two innings later, senior first baseman Alexis Durando (Oakland, N.J.) plated the final two runs of the game, earning an RBI on a sac-fly to right field. The play eventually allowed freshman second baseman Stephanie Huang (Paramus, N.J.) to score from second after a delayed cut from the UMass right fielder.
RU won its first game of the afternoon, 8-2, over Quinnipiac behind yet another strong pitching performance by junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) and an offensive explosion in the sixth inning. The Bobcats scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, recording three hits and benefitting from a hit by pitch.
But after the first, Landrith allowed just three more hits en route to her eighth complete game in eight starts. She struck out a career-high 14 batters in the outing.
The Scarlet Knights, who trailed until the sixth inning, got things going with back-to-back hits, as senior right fielder Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) led the inning off with a single before Howard slapped a double to left field to bring her home and tie the game, 2-2. Slowinski gave RU the lead for good a batter later, singling up the middle to bring Howard home.
Huang notched a two-run single later in the inning to add to the lead and make it a 5-2 contest. The RBIs were her first of the season and set up Demarco for another moment to shine, as the rookie blasted the Katie Alfiere offering deep over the left field wall for a two-run blast.
The home run and RBIs were the first of her career on “On the Banks” and gave RU a 7-2 lead. The squad tacked on another run in the top of the seventh inning courtesy of Slowinski’s second RBI single of the contest and her fourth RBI overall on the afternoon.
The Scarlet Knights face the Dutch National Team at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18 in an exhibition match before heading into their American Athletic Conference opening weekend at Louisville, which was picked by league coaches to win the conference. RU has not faced the Cardinals since the 2012 season.
- The Scarlet Knights matched their longest winning streak since last season, when the squad won six-straight from March 15-20.
- Demarco recorded her first-career RBIs and first-career home run in her big day. She ended the afternoon 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a home run.
- Williams stole a base against UMass and is now 8-for-8 this season. She is one steals shy (51-for-58) from tying Carla Camino (1990-93) for third on the RU all-time list.
- Landrith tossed her eighth complete game in her eighth start of the season, striking out a career-high 14 in the win. She went 3-0 in her three starts over the weekend, posting a 1.67 ERA and 33 strikeouts.
- Howard’s solo shot against UMass tied her with Williams and Bates for the team lead (three) and set a new personal single-season high. The three outfielders have accounted for nine of RU’s 11 home runs and 40 of the team’s 82 RBIs.
- Through 18 games, Slowinski owns 14 RBIs after notching seven in six games. She is one RBI shy of her 2013 total.
- After 18 games, five Scarlet Knights are hitting over .300, as the team owns a .293 batting average.
- RU has hit a home run in each of its last three games.
- The Scarlet Knights posted double-digit hits (12) for the fifth time of the year against UMass.
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