Softball beginning to gain momentum

Despite being a younger team, the steadily improving Lions are beginning to find their stroke.

Following back-to-back doubleheaders, the Lions are now 20-14 overall, with a 9-5 conference record.

After sweeping the Raptors of Rutgers University-Camden in two straight games, the team earned its 20th victory of the year by splitting a doubleheader with Ramapo College.

The double dip against the Roadrunners was quite a battle. In the initial contest, seven innings were not enough to determine a victor. After nine innings of play, the host Roadrunners took down the Lions 4-3.

“Obviously, it was a tough loss, especially when we battled so hard,” junior pitcher Ashley Minervini said.

The game was tied until the bottom of the ninth, when both teams were granted a runner on second base in the ninth inning in an effort to break the tie. The Roadrunners won the game on freshman Stephanie Malgeri’s game winning single.

Minervini, who was in a different role than usual, pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief. Despite not giving up an earned run, she suffered the defeat.

On offense, rookie catcher Michelle Kent led the way with two hits and two RBIs, while junior shortstop Ellen Seavers had a pair of base hits as well. However, it was not enough for the win.

In the second contest, the Lions turned the tides with their power pitching and hitting. Sophomore Alex Sietsma recorded her second shutout in as many days, as she recorded six strikeouts while only allowing four hits in a 4-0 Lions win.

“It was a true testament to our team to come back in the second game and shut them out,” Minervini said. “We weren’t about to dwell on the loss and proved we could beat them by coming out so strong in the second game.”

Sietsma was also strong at the plate, as she belted her first home run of the season. Freshman Katelyn Congilose also had a four-bagger for the victors.

“Alex and Lauren are really talented and deserve all the success they had in the past four games,” Minervini said.

There were some parallels to the College’s two games the day before against Rutgers-Camden.

In the first contest, the game went to extra innings, but this time the Lions managed to pull out a 3-2 victory in eight innings.

The Lions fell behind early, as the Scarlet Raptors struck first on a two-run home run.

After picking up their first run, the Lions knotted up the game at two after junior center fielder Danielle Hagel singled in freshman left fielder Crystal Lee in the bottom of the sixth frame.

Not to be outdone, the Scarlet Raptors put the pressure on once again, as a distracting rundown allowed a Raptor to score and give the team a 3-2 edge.

In the bottom of the eighth, however, the College sealed the victory when Lee knocked in senior right fielder Kelly Armstrong, and then scored herself on a Scarlet Raptor error.

Freshman pitcher Lauren Fitzsimmons picked up her ninth win of the year, allowing just one hit and fanning 11.

In game two, only five innings were needed.

The Lions scored six runs in the third inning en route to blanking the visitors 8-0.

Hagel had a three-run homer while Armstrong had a three-run double. Two more runs in the fourth inning gave the Lions the victory, their 11th in 12 tries at Lions’ Park.

Sietsma performed well again, as she picked up the shutout win, giving up five hits and posting five strikeouts.

“It felt great to sweep, especially this late in NJAC play when its very important to win out,” Minervini said.

They will be back on the field for their final two regular season games, as the team travels to New Jersey City University to play the Gothic Knights on Saturday at 1 p.m.