By Michael Battista
After an impressive display in Florida two weeks ago, the softball team finally had another chance to play on Sunday, March 29, against William Paterson University, coming away with two hard-fought wins.
The Lions’ first game against the Pioneers was a pitcher’s duel for both teams early on, as the College was led on the mound by junior Ashtin Helmer against William Paterson’s sophomore Gabrielle Castelli. While Castelli let up a hit early on, Helmer held on to a no-hitter going into the fourth inning. However, it was not to be, as the Pioneers were able to hit one to the outfield to get their first run.
Helmer, though, said it didn’t really bother her at all.
“I wasn’t thinking about that at all throughout the game,” she said. “I just stayed focus on making each and every one of my pitches work.”
She was able to do just that, keeping the Pioneers to just five hits the entire game and leaving the team scoreless in the end.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side, the Lions took a while to get into it, which is a credit to the performance of Castelli and her team. But in the fourth, the ball really started to roll in the Lions’ favor, courtesy of RBIs from junior Deanna Utter and sophomore Colleen Phelan, making the score 2-0.
Helmer claims these results come from the team changing their approach after watching William Paterson play.
“We had to make adjustments to be successful,” she said. “Toward the end of the game, we changed our approach and saw success.”
That change in approach was capped off by Utter, who in the sixth, belted out a homer, making it 3-0. After another shutout inning, that would be the final score.
As per the normal routine of the softball schedule, the team had little time to celebrate as game two of the doubleheader started soon after, and the games mirrored one another almost all the way through.
Once again, both teams had trouble finding hits thanks to the performances of Lions junior pitcher Katie Hourihan and the Pioneers’ sophomore Allison Podmajersky.
Lions freshman infielder Bria Bartsch says their opponent was successful at mixing it up and keeping the team on their toes.
“William Paterson did a good job at trying to keep us off balance at the plate, switching up pitches for each batter individually,” she said. “I think the team just needed to see their pitchers through in order to start capitalizing on what they were throwing us.”
It was in the last inning that the team really started to capitalize. Junior Christine Desiderio, Bartsch and junior Jamie Purcell all brought in runs in the seventh. In a game where the Lions were limited to only three runs, they were the ones standing tall in another 3-0 victory.
The team, with a 9-3 record, now prepares for their next game at home against Rowan University on Tuesday, March 31, at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Right now, Bartsch says the team can be happy with how they played but must improve for next time.
“We communicated well, our defense was solid, our hitting was good and the pitching phenomenal,” she said. “With that said, we can always keep improving. I think something we can work on as a whole is coming out strong offensively from the get-go so we can make a statement and score in the first inning.”