PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 2, 2014) – The Rutgers softball team takes on its second consecutive former BIG EAST foe, Villanova, Thursday afternoon in Villanova, Pa., before moving into its second American Athletic Conference series of the season this weekend at UCF. RU and the Knights will meet on the diamond for the first time.
RU’s Thursday doubleheader at Villanova is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Villanova Softball Complex. The Scarlet Knights will kick off their series at UCF on Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. in doubleheader action and close out the three-game set with an 11 a.m. meeting on Sunday, April 6.
The Scarlet Knights’ doubleheader against Villanova will be broadcast live by Nova Nation All-Access, while all three games of Rutgers’ series at UCF will be carried by UCF Knights All-Access. A subscription is required for both carriers.
The Scarlet Knights last played on Tuesday, April 1 against Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J., going off for seven runs in the seventh inning to win by the final of 12-5. The team had seven different players record hits in the game, while four turned in multi-hit games.
Junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) picked up her eighth win in her 10th complete game of the season, striking out 12 Pirates.
RU has been impressive from the plate through 24 games this season, rivaling some of the best team marks over the last 10 years. RU’s .300 batting average, .413 slugging percentage and .383 on-base percentage are the second-best marks since 2004.
The squad has recorded double-digit hits and double-digit runs in three of the last six games. RU has notched 10 or more hits seven times and double-digit runs six times this season.
Junior Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.) has been on fire of late and rides an 11-game hitting streak into the weekend, hitting .512 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 10 RBIs, 13 runs scored and an .8-5 slugging percentage in that span. Howard has tallied eight multi-hit games during the streak and slapped three hits twice.
The left fielder now leads the team with a .397 batting average – the second-best mark in the American Athletic Conference.
In the last 11 games, Rutgers is hitting .321 as a team and has rattled off an 8-3 record. Three Scarlet Knights – Howard, junior Jackie Bates (Lincroft, N.J.) (11) and sophomore Melanie Slowinski (Severn, Md.) (10) – have posted more than 10 RBIs in the stretch.
Former BIG EAST rival Villanova enters the matchup after sweeping Marist at home on Tuesday, April 1 at the Villanova Softball Complex. The Wildcats took the first game, 5-2, before shutting Marist out for a 5-0 victory in the second game to snap a five-game losing streak.
As a team, Villanova is hitting .211 this season and is led by Laure Herschberg’s .264 batting average. From the circle, Villanova has been lights out, owning a 2.58 ERA while holding opponents to just .226 hitting.
Kate Poppe aces the Villanova staff with a 6-12 record and 2.26 ERA. She has struck out 135 batters in 105.1 innings of work.
RU and Villanova split in a doubleheader meeting last season on April 10. The Wildcats own a 22-21 all-time advantage in the series.
UCF downed North Florida, 5-3, on the road its last time out on April 2 to enter the contest at 25-11 overall. The team has won five of its last six.
Five Knights boast averages upwards of .300 this season, led by Kahley Novak at .375. Jessica Ujvari is UCF’s home run (three) and RBIs (14) leader.
Four of UCF’s five pitchers boast ERAs below 2.00, while Shelby Turner and Mackenzia Audas enter the weekend as a dangerous one-two punch from the circle. Turner owns a 14-3 record and 1.18 ERA with 155 strikeouts, while Audus is 10-8 with a 1.85 ERA and 124 strikeouts.
UCF is one of three teams in the American still unbeaten in conference play, as the Knights swept Memphis (Marc 22-23) to begin its league slate.
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