The Rowan University softball team opened their season this past weekend, traveling to North Carolina to compete in the Grand Slam Triangle Classic.
The Profs finished the tournament going 3-2 as they faced strong competition to start the year.
Head Coach Kim Wilson, who is heading into her 27th year coaching at Rowan, is glad that the team faced solid competition so early on in the season.
“I thought we did an excellent job for going out and having an opportunity to really be outside,” Coach Wilson said. “Get an opportunity to play quality teams right off the bat.”
The Profs faced Alma College and won 6-2, where the bats got going early.
The Profs collected nine hits in their first game, where freshman outfielder McKenzie Melvin belted a home run for her first collegiate hit. In addition, freshman infielder/outfielder Liz McCaffrey laced a three run shot. Senior outfielder Morgan Zane contributed with a triple, while sophomore infielder Peyton MacNair hit a double.
Senior pitcher Emily August, who finished last season with a 0.74 ERA, got the start in the circle for the opening game of the season. She gave up two earned runs and struck out three while pitching the entirety of the game in the win.
Coach Wilson reflected on all of the factors of the game, and how they played a part in their opening weekend.
“Overall our three sides to the game, defense, pitching and hitting, they did a really good job,” Coach Wilson said. “I was pretty proud of where we ended up at the end of the weekend.”
The Profs then took on Arcadia University in game two of opening day, where they secured the victory by a large margin of 13-5. Although the Knights scored first, the Profs scored in five straight innings to secure the victory.
Hitting was a strong suit for Rowan, the team totaled 12 hits and were able to capitalize by scoring 13 runs. The Profs laced four home runs, including Melvin with her second of the season, followed by sophomore Kaitlyn Riggs and freshman Devyn DiPasquale, while Zane added another home run and finished the contest with four RBIs.
Freshman Rylee Lutz made her pitching debut for the brown and gold, and did not disappoint. She pitched a complete game, and struck out four while giving up five earned runs in her debut.
“Everybody contributed this weekend which was pretty cool,” Coach Wilson said.
Rowan then lost the next two games of the tournament to Maryville College 9-6 and Christopher Newport 8-5 in extra innings.
Despite the loss, the power of the Profs at the plate showed again where Melvin and MacNair each hit two home runs. Although the teams each collected 11 hits, the Scots edged the Profs 9-6.
In their second loss, the Captains out hit Rowan 13-7. The teams were tied 4-4 entering the seventh inning, and in the eighth Christopher Newport scored four runs to secure the victory.
Coach Wilson believes that the Profs have not yet tapped into their full potential though and is excited to see what the team can do as the season progresses.
“I don’t even think we played to our potential yet,” Coach Wilson said. “I think this team is exciting, they’re a lot of fun, they’re very close and we got positive outcomes from a lot of people.”
In the finale of the Grand Slam Triangle Classic, the Profs took on Randolph College where they won 9-1 in five innings. Lutz pitched in her second game for the Profs where she struck out seven, surrendered three hits and only gave up one earned run for Rowan.
The weekend’s powerhouses of Melvin and Zane continued to soar where they each crushed homeruns. Melvin also contributed with a double, along with McCaffery and DiPasquale who each grabbed extra bases.
In their opening weekend, Zane and Melvin grabbed nine hits while also belting four home runs a piece, as they lead the team in both categories. MacNair contributed with six hits on the weekend, McCaffery added seven RBIs and DiPasquale cranked two home runs of her own.
Coach Wilson is looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for the Profs.
“We’re five games in, and it’s an exciting time for me as a coach because I don’t even think we’re close to where we’re going to be at the end of the season,” Coach Wilson said.
In conjunction with their strong start to the season Melvin earned New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie of the Week, where she batted .474, grabbed seven RBIs, hit four home runs and stole four bases.
In addition, Lutz collected NJAC Softball Rookie Pitcher of the week. She picked up two wins in both of her starts, as she struck out 11 batters in 14.2 innings on the mound.
The combination of veteran experience and young studs seems like a recipe for success for Rowan this season. They will be put to the test starting again on March 11, where they will play 12 more games on the road in Clermont Florida.
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