Defense leads to victory against Cougars

By Miguel Gonzalez
Sports Assistant

The College lost twice at home before sweeping a doubleheader on the road against its New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opponents. On Tuesday, April 19, the Lions failed to catch up with the Stockton University Ospreys’s offense in 8-2 and 2-1 losses. With urgency to win conference matches, they defeated the Kean University Cougars in 3-2 and 2-0 victories on Saturday, April 23.

The Lions’s offense marked the scoreboard first when senior infielder Deanna Utter scored on a double to provide the team with a 2-0 lead.

The Ospreys responded in the top of the seventh inning with a whopping five runs to cumulate a commanding 8-2 lead. In the subsequent inning, Ospreys’s sophomore pitcher Hannah Bibeault forced the remaining Lions batters to ground out.

In the second game, both teams competed in a close defensive matchup, with the College ultimately losing, 2-1. Freshman pitcher Sara Bielamowicz demonstrated great potential for the Lions’s future, as she only permitted three hits.

Unlike the first game, the Ospreys had a fast start as senior infielder Samantha Shockey scored two runs on a single to propel the Ospreys to a 2-0 lead. After five scoreless innings, the Lions strived toward a comeback and were one run short. With one out remaining, Utter scored on a double from freshman infielder/outfielder Jess Santelli. The Lions’s rally fell short when freshman outfielder Gaby Bennett was caught running to home plate.

“By the end of a competitive doubleheader, we are both mentally and physically drained,” Utter said. “It is important to stay engaged in the game from the first pitch to the last out. There is not time to take an at bat or an out for granted.”

At Union, N.J., the Lions’s pitching staff became instrumental at winning the games against the Kean University Cougars.

During the first match, sophomore pitcher Sam Platt held the Cougars offense to only four hits while the Lions stayed ahead. In the top of the second, Santelli and Bennett scored from a single to give the Lions a 2-0 lead. Sophomore outfielder Madison Levine later increased the lead to 3-0 when she advanced to home plate from a double.

The Cougars countered in the bottom of the fourth inning when junior infielder Amanda Berezny scored off a walk to shrink the Lions’s lead to 3-2. The Lions were able to maintain the lead and win the game with assistance from Platt’s pitching and their defense.

“Offensively, the team had quality at bats and strung hits together, while defensively, we caught the lead runners out,” Utter said. 

The Lions followed up with a 2-0 shutout victory. Senior pitcher Kate Hourihan limited the Cougars’s offense to two hits. The Lions’s offense assured Hourihan’s dominant performance would result in a “W” for the team by pressuring the Cougars’s infielders with 10 hits.

“Offense and defense are equally important,” Utter said. “This weekend, we successfully executed in all aspects of the game. Our team has great chemistry and that is very beneficial on the field. We trust one another and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

The Lions will now attempt to capture four more crucial conference match victories at home this week. On Tuesday, April 26, the Lions will compete against the 20-14 Montclair State University Red Hawks. Later in the week, on Saturday, April 30, the Lions will try to slow down the 20-10 Ramapo College Roadrunners, who are currently enjoyed a five-game winning streak.