The Rowan softball team was double the trouble for Rutgers University-Camden in their doubleheader matchup on Tuesday, April 5.
Defense and pitching was the highlight of the day, as the Profs won both games by scores of 6-0 and 6-1, respectively. Rowan remains unbeaten in New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play at 4-0, and boast a 21-3 overall record.
Rowan’s ace, Rylee Lutz, started game one on the mound for the No. 15 nationally ranked Profs and proceeded to shut down Rutgers-Camden on the way to her fourth complete game shutout of the season. A large deciding factor in that outcome was the defense who came to play behind her.
“It’s definitely a stress reliever, coming into the game a lot of times, I put stress on myself,” Lutz said. “So, having my defense playing so well behind me definitely has a big impact on my throwing.”
Rowan immediately kicked off the scoring in the first inning of game one. Singles from Liz McCaffrey and Korie Hague, along with two errors committed by the Scarlet Raptors allowed the Profs to take an early 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Hague made a brilliant diving catch on a bunt attempt in front of home plate. The Profs went right back to their hitting ways in the bottom half of the inning, with back-to-back doubles by Gabbie Fonollosa and Grace Shukaitis, as well as another McCaffrey single stretching Rowan’s lead to 4-0 after two frames.
“Being able to back the pitchers up is great,” McCaffrey said. “The bottom of the lineup came through with some really good shots. Picking each other up and not getting down after someone gets out really helps hitters.”
Rowan supplied two more runs in the fourth to pad their lead, making the score 6-0, which wound up being the final. McCaffrey had three hits in game one, and had five hits combined on the day.
“I was just ready to attack early,” McCaffery said. “We knew their pitchers had pretty good changeups, so I was just trying to recognize that, waiting for my pitch and attacking the ball.”
Lutz cruised through most of the game, causing weak contact to force ground balls and fly outs. In the sixth inning, however, the Scarlet Raptors gave Lutz and the Profs a challenge.
Following an amazing diving catch in center field by Abigail Pawlowski, Rutgers-Camden loaded the
bases with just one out. What ensued was the play of the day, when Lutz forced a fly ball to right field that was corralled by Shukaitis. With the runner tagging up from third, the junior from Clifton, New Jersey made a dazzling throw home right on the money to Hague at the plate for the out that saved a run and ended the inning.
Head Coach Kim Wilson was more than pleased with her team’s defensive effort.
“I was pretty proud of them for executing, they did a really good job,” Wilson said. “When the ball gets in play, sometimes you never know, but our outfielders did a nice job chasing some balls down and the infield made all the plays that we needed.”
Lutz went on to retire the side in order in the bottom half of the seventh to complete the game-one shutout. Lutz walked just one batter while striking out six and allowing eight hits.
“It felt really good having control,” Lutz said. “I knew coming in, I can’t take any team lightly, so I had to
throw where the pitches were called and make them hit the ball.”
More of the same would ensue in game two of the doubleheader, this time with Emily McCutcheon
starting on the mound.
McCutcheon got off to a hot start, retiring the first six batters faced, four by way of a groundout. The lefty displayed great control, not walking a batter throughout the entire contest en route to finishing with a complete game win. McCutcheon also displayed her versatility, adding two hits and a run scored offensively.
Both teams were shut down at the plate through two innings, until who else but McCaffrey came through with an RBI triple, and then scored on an RBI groundout by Hague to put the Profs up 2-0.
In the fourth inning, Rowan added four runs on two Scarlet Raptors’ errors, in addition to RBI singles by Cat Thomas and McCafrey during a string of five hits in seven batters. This made the score 6-0, and ended Rowan’s scoring for the day.
A chance for the second Profs’ shutout of the day dwindled in the fifth, when three singles led to the lone run of the doubleheader for Rutgers-Camden. But McCutcheon did not let the run faze her, as she remained in control by recording three straight outs in the sixth to hold the five-run lead.
The seventh inning was highlighted by yet another great play in the field. With a runner on first, McKenzie Melvin made a great catch and then fired it back to first to catch the runner sleeping and turn two. The play ended any hope of a rally for the Scarlet Raptors and set McCutcheon up for the complete game victory.
“We have to defend the name on the front of the jerseys,” McCaffrey said. “They’re a rival, and we knew they were going to try to bring their A-game. Just staying confident, but not being too comfortable, and continuing to attack got the job done.”
Rowan now boasts a 21-3 overall record, and will look for more improvement with a chance for four wins in a row and another doubleheader sweep against the Scarlet Raptors on Friday, April 7.
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