After a shaky start to the season, two stellar pitching performances by freshman Lauren Fitzsimmons appear to be turning things around.
Fitzsimmons led the College in their effort to end Montclair State University’s (MSU) 27-game conference win streak with a 3-0 victory in the second contest of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) doubleheader. MSU had defeated the College 4-3 in the opening game. The rookie also threw a 2-0 shutout against Muhlenberg College earlier in the week.
Fitzsimmons threw an impressive four-hit shutout in the second game against MSU, striking out four and walking one to improve to 5-1 on the campaign. She also did not allow a runner to reach third base.
Despite being held to just two hits, the Lions scored three runs in very unconventional ways. Junior catcher/outfielder Kelly Armstrong scored two of those runs by beating a throw to home after a throw down to first base in the second inning and on a wild pitch in the fourth. Junior infielder Ellen Seavers scored the final run on an error in the fifth.
The first game had all the drama, as the Lions tied the score with two outs in the top of the seventh. Freshman infielder Katelyn Congilose started with a double, and after two consecutive batters were hit by a pitch, sophomore infielder Kathy Sikora singled to bring the tying run to the plate.
The tie was short-lived, however, as all the Red Hawks needed was a double and a subsequent RBI single to win. The winning run was scored by senior shortstop Jennifer Jiminez and driven in byfreshman pitcher/infielder Adrian Rastocny.
Junior Elia Persico got the win for the Red Hawks on just 1/3 of an inning pitched, while Ashley Minervini suffered the loss. The Lions’ junior ace now stands at 5-5 on the season.
“It was really hard to take that loss, but I’m very proud my team was able to do so in the second game,” Minervini said. “They didn’t just give up and you could tell we were out to beat them at any cost.”
After the split, the Lions are now at 10-10 overall, while the Red Hawks are 11-5 on the year. Both teams are 1-1 in the NJAC.
Two of those 10 victories came last Wednesday, as the College swept Muhlenberg College at Lions’ Park in two straight games.
The first was a convincing 9-0 victory in six innings, as Minervini pitched a one-hit shutout. She fanned eight Mules in the win.
“It feels great to toss a one-hitter,” Minervini said. “There’s no better feeling than knowing you are keeping the other team off balance.”
After scoring once in the second inning, the Lions got very offensive in the second when freshman Crystal Lee reached home plate on a fielder’s choice. That was followed up by a two-run single by Congilose, who had a total of three hits on the afternoon.
The sixth inning was also a solid inning for the home team, as they scored four runs in the frame. Three of those runs came on a home run by sophomore infielder Amy Ullrich.
“My team’s offense gives me such motivation to do well on the mound,” Minervini said. “I can throw with a lot less stress on my shoulders and have fun watching my team attacking and dominating our opponent.”
In the second contest, there was not much offense, but yet another strong outing by Fitzsimmons. The rookie threw a one-hitter of her own, recording eight Ks to pick up her fourth win of the season.
The Lions won the game 2-0, scoring the only runs of the contest when Congilose singled home a run in the fourth and junior outfielder Danielle Hagel knocked in a run on a base hit in the fifth.
Playing at Lions’ Park has certainly been favorable to the home team, as they are 4-0 on the year and have outscored their opponents’ 23-0 in those games.
They have a chance to improve on that record when they return to action tomorrow afternoon, playing host to the NJAC rival Fords of Haverford College in a double dip at 3 p.m.