Lions open conference play with win; sweep Red Hawks at home

Senior infielder Ellen Seavers slides into second base. (Tim Lee/Photo Editor)

After getting off to a hot start in Florida, the Lions continued its strong play to begin the conference portion of their schedule, as the team swept the Red Hawks of Montclair State University in a doubleheader this past Friday.

The pitching was the anchoring factor for the No. 8-ranked Lions, as senior Ashley Minervini and sophomore Lauren Fitzsimmons each tossed a shutout in their respective outings at Lions’ Park.

Minervini got late help in game one from classmate Ellen Seavers, as the Lions’ shortstop singled in the bottom of the sixth, allowing rookie second baseman Ashley Sogluizzo to score the lone run of the contest.

“We came out really flat, and the entire game, Coach (Sally Miller) was yelling at us to pick it up,” sophomore right fielder Rebecca Florczyk said. “We knew we could get a run on the board, and finally Ellen got it for us. We were glad to get it, but it shouldn’t have had to come to that.”

With that lone run of support, Minervini executed her team-leading eighth complete game of the season, blanking the Red Hawks with four strikeouts. She allowed six hits over the seven innings.

Seavers went 2-2, including the game-winning single as well as a double in game one.

“It was very stressful actually since we didn’t get a run until the sixth,” Minervini said. “While we were playing a bit flat, I had nothing but faith that my team would do anything and everything they could to get a run on the board. I just had to focus on my job of providing the best defense I could on the mound.”

More of the same came in the latter contest. Fitzsimmons continued her dominant season, as she did not allow a Montclair State runner to reach third base while only giving up two hits in the process.

Her team shut out the Red Hawks once again, this time by a final of 5-0. The junior is now 8-0 on the season.

“She has been taking control of games, and the thing about her is that she adjusts really well against whatever team we’re up against.”

Senior infielder Ellen Seavers secures a popup. (Tim Lee/Photo Editor)

Florczyk said. “She’s really consistent. She hit her spots today.”

The girl known as “Fitz” to her teammates did get more than enough help on offense. Florczyk took advantage of a Montclair State error, scoring a run in the top of the third. The team never looked back.

Florczyk, who has been hot recently, cracked a base it in the following inning to score another run for the College. She had a pair of hits on the day.

“It was frustrating because I went 0-for-2 the first game, and at the beginning of the second I knew I needed to get one (hit),” Florczyk said. “I just had it in my head to get on base any way possible and to score. We all needed that sense of urgency.”

It seemed to work. Three runs later, the College had themselves a doubleheader sweep of their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rival.

“It feels great to start out conference play with two wins over a competitive team like Montclair,” Minervini said.

After the two victories, the Lions are riding high at 15-3, with the undefeated 2-0 start in the NJAC.

“We as a team know how important it is because now having the No. 8 ranking, we have a target on our back,” Minervini said. “Teams are now out to get us so it’s important to maintain composure and continue making strides in improving our game.”

Looking to do just that and build on this impressive start, the team will travel to Haverford College Thursday to take on the Fords. The double dip