Team splits last four, looks to NJACs

By Michael Battista
Sports Assistant

Desiderio leads the Lions to a sweep over Montclair.  (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Desiderio leads the Lions to a sweep over Montclair. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

The College’s softball team finished their regular season last week, sweeping Montclair State but getting swept by Ramapo College.

The team traveled up to Montclair N.J. on Friday, April 24, to face the 13-18 Red Hawks after a rain delay postponed the game earlier in the week.

Despite previously coming up short against Muhlenberg, the Lions were hoping to keep up the strong play going into the NJAC tournament, and they needed to start this against Montclair.

After a scoreless first by both teams, Lions junior right fielder Christine Desiderio doubled to left field allowing junior pitcher Ashtin Helmer to score.

After that, Helmer continued to help keep the Red Hawks at bay by keeping it scoreless for them up until the bottom of the fifth when she gave up a home run to tie the game.

Almost as a redemption of sorts, Helmer was able to put the team back in the lead the very next inning with a double to center field, bringing in a run. Desiderio had a repeat performance as well, singling in a run soon after to give the Lions a two-run lead.

The Red Hawks had a brief comeback in the bottom of the sixth, scoring one run. But freshman Sam Platt was able to pick up the save as the Lions picked up the win, 3-2.

The next game between the two schools was much more one-sided in favor of the College.

In the first inning, Helmer was able to reach first on a fielder’s choice and got to second on a throwing error, which lead to two runs for the Lions right away.

After a scoreless second by both squads, the Hawks were able to pick up two runs in the third. But the fourth inning brought up freshman Bria Bartsch, who singled to left field to give the team the lead once again.

The sixth inning sealed the game for the Lions when they scored a total of six runs off hits from Desiderio, junior pinch-hitter Kristen Fitzsimmons and freshman Jess Stevenson, who homered three runs. The seventh inning saw Desiderio come up big once again, homering in two more runs for the Lions as well.

The Red Hawks scored three more runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lions were able to close them out picking up the 11-5 victory.

Helmer said that the team, looking towards the playoff, needs to keep playing at a high level.

“As a team, we know that we need to perform at a higher level as we enter postseason play,” she said. “Teams are more seasoned at this point, and in order to be competitive, we need to be just as seasoned. This is the point of the season that really counts. We need to leave everything on the field as we enter the NJAC tournament.”

The team only had a day to recover, as they traveled to Mahwah N.J. on Saturday, April 25 to face off against the Ramapo College Roadrunners.

The College was in for a challenge early on, as Ramapo scored four runs in the first inning off two singles. The Roadrunners’ pitching kept the Lions from scoring until the sixth inning, but before that, they picked up two more runs off a home run from their catcher.

Junior Deanna Utter added another homer for the season — her sixth — bringing in two runs for the team. Still, between the home run and a fielder’s choice by sophomore Nerylix Cerda to bring in another run, the offense wasn’t enough as the Roadrunners took the win after scoring again, making the final, 7-3.

Helmer said the team just didn’t do enough in the end.

“We simply did not play to our full potential against Ramapo,” she said. “We have each taken accountability and analyzed our performances individually.”

The College had a second shot against Ramapo, however, and played a tighter game throughout.

The home team scored first in the second inning, scoring two runs off a double and single combined, but the Lions quickly tied it back up in the third with a solo home run from Bartsch to left field, and a single from Stevenson to bring in the tying run. The tie didn’t last long, though, as Ramapo took the lead in the fourth inning off a solo home run.

“Ramapo came out strong right from the get-go, giving it their all, and it really showed when they took the field,” Bartsch said.

It didn’t end, though, as Ramapo homered one more time in the sixth inning. That was the last run, as the Lions picked up the 5-2 loss.

The team now looks toward the NJAC tournament starting on Tuesday, April 28, against William Paterson University in Wayne N.J. at 4 p.m.

Looking at the tournament, Bartsch says she thinks the team doesn’t need a specific plan going into the game.

“I don’t feel that we’re going to use any specific strategy,” she said. “Rather, I believe the team, as well as myself, is simply planning to take the field fighting, giving everything we have every play.”