The Raider softball team may have finally broken through after winning three out of four against Army to open up its home schedule. By splitting a doubleheader on Sunday before sweeping the Black Knights on Monday, Colgate took over second place in the Patriot League.
The last of those wins came in dramatic fashion. Army scored a run to pull within 6-5 in the seventh inning and loaded the bases with two outs. Army’s Nikki Posey ran the count full against Colgate first-year reliever Ashley Rowe, and then hit a soft pop-up into short center field. First-year centerfielder Calla Yee made a nice running catch and then hung on to the ball as she fell to the grass to preserve the lead and the win.
Rowe had entered the game in the fourth inning in relief of junior hurler Kelsey Nordstrom, who remains on a pitch count as she recovers from a shoulder injury. Nordstrom pitched three solid innings, allowing a single run on two hits. Rowe yielded four runs on seven hits, but also recorded two timely strikeouts to help stop Army rallies. Her performance was also good enough to net the first-year her first college win.
Rowe and the Raiders offense helped out the Colgate pitchers greatly with some timely hitting. Colgate scored three runs in the first inning on consecutive doubles from sophomores LaPorscha Albert and Whitney Scott and Rowe, as well as an RBI single from first-year Kortney Hannah. After Army scored in the third, first-year catcher Meg Mylan hit a two-run double into the left
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-center field gap. In the fifth, with Colgate up 5-2, Albert doubled and Rowe delivered what proved to be a game-winning RBI single.
In Monday’s first game, the Raiders rode another huge first inning and a strong pitching performance from senior ace Kate Howard to a 4-1 victory. With one out in the first, senior Kim Olmstead doubled and advanced to third when Albert singled. Black Knights starter Veronica Barth struck out Scott, but Rowe then hit a three-run homer over the left-field wall to give Colgate an immediate 3-0 lead.
Howard did the rest, no-hitting Army through the first three and two-thirds innings before Veronica Lauzon homered to make it 3-1. After Albert doubled home Yee in the sixth to give Colgate some insurance, Army loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk. But Howard got Posey to hit a line drive to Hannah to clinch her second win of the series and 10th of the season, ranking her second in the Patriot League. She gave up just one run on three hits and also struck out four and walked four. She now has a sparkling 2.50 ERA.
Howard’s first win came a day earlier as Colgate recorded a come-from-behind 5-4 win. Colgate took a 3-0 lead after three innings on an RBI double from Albert in the first and a two-run double from Rowe in the third. Down 3-2 in the seventh, Army tied the game on an RBI single from Lindsey Gerheim, and then took the lead when Gerheim stole home as part of a double steal.
In the bottom of the seventh, Barth quickly retired first-year Brandy Godfrey and Yee, but Olmstead and Albert singled, keeping Colgate alive. Scott then singled to right field, scoring Olmstead to tie the game. Rowe then delivered a walk-off single to center, with Albert scoring the winning run.
Howard again pitched a complete game, yielding four runs on eight hits. She also struck out six Army batters.
Army scored its lone win of the series in Sunday’s nightcap. The Black Knights scored four runs in the fifth inning off of a hit and two Colgate errors to break open a 1-1 tie. Colgate scored a run in the sixth on an RBI groundout by Hannah, and then two in the seventh as sophomore Jessi Bentovoja scored on a passed ball and Mylan scored on an RBI groundout by Yee. But it was not enough, as Army held on for a 6-4 win.
Rowe’s outstanding series earned her the Patriot League Rookie of the Week award for the fourth time this season – the Raiders have won the award in all six weeks this season. Rowe hit .462 with eight RBIs over the four games, including the game winning RBIs in all three Raider victories, and also won Monday’s game in relief. Rowe now leads all Patriot Leaguers in RBIs with 26 and appears headed for Rookie of the Year honors.
The Raiders’ three wins push their record to 12-13 overall, but more importantly 5-3 in the Patriot League. Colgate visits Lafayette for a four-game set this weekend, before traveling to Niagara for two games on Tuesday.