The Rowan University softball team took the seven-hour drive down to Raleigh, North Carolina to compete in the Grand Slam Triangle Classic this past weekend. During the four game-span, the team went 3-1. They finished off the weekend with three wins in a row, including a victory over sixth-ranked Belhaven.
Assistant Coach Mary Murray, who enters her third season on the Profs’ staff, was happy with the team’s offensive approach during the weekend.
“Offensively, I thought we looked really good, I think we can definitely make better decisions at the plate,” Coach Murray said. “I think they were attacking the ball really well and we weren’t getting too deep into counts.”
The Profs dropped their first game of the season 3-0 against Pfeiffer. Rowan only totaled six hits in the game, with two coming from Payton McNair. Rylee Lutz got the start for the Profs, where she went six innings, struck out six, walked three and gave up three earned runs in the loss.
Following the loss, Rowan won their next match 8-7 over Belhaven in nine innings. The Blazers got on the board first, but a big three-run fifth backed by a homer from MacNair and a double from Liz McCaffery helped Rowan gain back the momentum.
“Obviously the long balls help, and we had some really clutch hits and some clutch moments from a lot of people,” Coach Murray said. “It wasn’t just starters from last year, it was rookies coming in this year having big hits and big moments, so the offense definitely was encouraging and fun to watch.”
Pinch-hitter and freshman Kate Evick came in during the eighth and recorded an RBI single, and rookie pinch-hitter Cami Morgan followed that with a base knock to tie the game. In the ninth inning, McCaffery drew a walk with the bases loaded to cut the deficit to one, and Cat Thomas drove in two with a double to give Rowan the win.
Sophomore Liz McCaffery discussed the Profs’ ability to bounce back in their second game.
“I think I saw a lot of positives, we worked through the first game, we came off of a tough loss and then we ended up beating the number six team,” McCaffery said. “So us bouncing back from that is huge, it shows a lot of toughness for us this season.”
Rowan faced off against the Maryville Scots and the North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishop in a Saturday doubleheader and took them down 4-2 and 6-0 respectively.
Thomas came up clutch again for the Profs, as she belted a three-run shot to give Rowan the lead in the third, while the Profs added one more in the fourth. Although the Scots tried to make a comeback and cut it within two, Rowan’s defense and pitching held through.
“Defensively, I think it was just really good to see everybody back on the field together in that sense, it’s so different in practice but definitely happy with the defense and how they did,” Coach Murray said. “We looked good rotating and defending different plays, so definitely a lot to look forward to.”
Later in the day, Rowan put a three-spot up on the board in the first and added three more in the fifth, while holding the Battling Bishops scoreless in their victory.
McCaffery, who totaled five hits and two RBIs on the weekend discusses what went well for her at the plate and how she adjusted throughout.
“I thought that I was seeing the ball pretty well, I was just letting myself get too deep into counts,” McCaffery said. “So just attacking earlier, recognizing pitches, and depending on the situation where the ball needed to be placed.”
While the offense was clicking, the defense and pitching were efficient. Emily McCutcheon grabbed a pair of wins over the weekend, while Marina Costello also got in the win column. In addition to these players, Coach Murray believes that Veronica Goode and Lutz were also crucial to the team’s success.
“Pitchers looked good,” Coach Murray said. “From Rylee [Lutz] to Marina [Costello] to Emily McCutcheon to Veronica [Goode] they all looked really good. They came in in big moments, we had three of them throw in the Belhaven game, the two rookies threw in extra innings, they came in really high-pressure situations and performed really well.”
McCutcheon totaled 7.1 innings across three of the Profs’ four games while only giving up one earned run and pitched in pivotal moments throughout the weekend. As a result of her great weekend, McCutcheon was awarded the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie Pitcher of the Week.
“The freshman came up clutch, and obviously Emily [McCutcheon] is now Rookie Pitcher of the Week so her performance was really good as well,” McCaffery said.
The Profs will look to continue their winning ways in Florida where they will spend a week competing in the Spring Games.
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