Rowan softball kicks off 2024 with a doubleheader sweep

Emily McCutcheon winds up in her pitching motion. The sophomore started her season with a complete game on Tuesday, Feb. 27. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

Coming off a season where they made the NCAA World Series, Rowan softball is coming into this season trying to replicate that success.

In their first two outings of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Profs started 2024 strong against the SUNY-Oneonta Red Dragons, winning both games of the doubleheader. In the first game, the Profs picked up an 8-0 win, while in the second, they got a 7-1 victory. This is the Profs’ third and fourth time taking on the Red Dragons and they are now 4-0 against them.

With the last game the Profs played being on June 3, 2023, the team was ready to get back on the field.

“Pressure of a game and pressure of excitement,” Head Coach Kim Wilson said. “We got into it pretty quickly. It is different from coming from practice when the ball is coming towards you, to it being pitched by someone else.”

The game started off almost perfectly for Rowan, with starting pitcher Rylee Lutz not letting up any runs to begin the game, opening the door for the Profs to get things started in the scoring department.

Starting centerfielder McKenzie Melvin led off the game with an infield hit to the shortstop, who then made a throwing error, allowing Melvin to get to second. Then, a deep fly ball hit by Peyton McNair in the next at-bat allowed Wilson to utilize Melvin’s speed, having her tag up from second to home.

“We want to be aggressive,” Wilson said. “She is one of the fastest kids on the team. If you can get out and score a run on that, it is going to hurt.”

The Profs would go on to score seven more runs, more than enough to pick up the win. All Lutz needed on the mound was one run, as the reigning New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Pitcher of the Year picked up right where she left off from last season.

The junior gave up three hits within the first three innings, but those would be the only hits she let up throughout the whole game, adding on eight strikeouts and a complete game shutout. Once Lutz gets into a groove, she is almost unhittable.

“It was great,” Lutz said. “It makes life so much easier. Once you find the strike zone and figure out what is working, it is just smooth sailing from there.”

Her starting catcher, Kaitlyn Riggs, was not surprised in the slightest by Lutz’s performance.

“She looked great,” Riggs said. “She always looks great, honestly. I have been catching her for three years now and she was hitting her spots well, and I know she is just going to keep throwing it better as the season goes on.”

The game would ultimately end early due to the run rule being reached after Cami Morgan hit a single to right field to walk it off in the fifth.

In game two, Rowan started off by being unable to capitalize off of mistakes made by SUNY-Oneonta starter Emily Brown. In the first two innings, Brown walked three batters and hit a batter, but the Profs plated no runs during that timespan.

“She needed to come into the strike zone,” Wilson said. “We did a good job of being patient, but we did pop a few out, early days, you know.”

Rowan starter Emily McCutcheon matched Brown in the first two innings, giving up no runs, but gave up the first run of the season for the Profs after Victoria Hussey reached on an error which allowed Julia Serena to score for the Red Dragons. The run went down as unearned.

The Profs would not be held down for long as they answered back in the bottom of the third. Peyton MacNair led off for the Profs with a double and later scored off a double from Cat Thomas, then Bre Bryant followed that up with a two-bagger of her own, giving her team the lead.

The Profs continued to extend their lead throughout the rest of the game, scoring two and three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. The highlight was Riggs hitting a double to score Bryant against SUNY-Oneonta reliever Angelina Scalere.

“In the previous at-bat, the first pitcher was a little bit wild,” Riggs said. “I was being really patient. The second pitcher threw more strikes to everyone else, I was just sitting and waiting for the first pitch and was just ready to drive it.”

With McCutcheon pitching the rest of the game and not giving up another run, Rowan never looked back.

The Profs will play next against Salisbury, the team that ended their season last year, in Salisbury, Maryland, on March 2.

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