It has certainly been a rough time away from home for the Raider softball team this season. Looking to turn around its play, the squad traveled to Maryland to take on Coppin State and Mount St. Mary’s last Saturday and then departed for Pennsylvania the following day for two games with the Quakers. Against dropping its first two games, the team salvage the four-game weekend by splitting a doubleheader with Penn on Sunday.
Midway through the season, it appears that the biggest problem facing the Raiders appears to be pitching. Junior Kelsey Nordstrom is out indefinitely, leaving senior Kate Howard as the only recognizable starting pitcher. Over the last two weekends, this has forced Howard to start one game each day, with first-year first baseman Ashley Rowe and senior outfielder Kim Olmstead sharing the rest of the pitching chores. However, because both players are better suited at other defensive positions, the Raiders have had to make due with their lack of pitching depth.
Nevertheless, Howard was strong against the Quakers on Sunday, holding them to three runs on nine hits. She struck out four, moving her into second-place on Colgate’s all-time list with 294. The win also represented a milestone, since it was her 40th career victory.
The Raiders made Howard’s task easier with a strong first inning against Pennsylvania. Sophomore shortstop LaPorscha Albert doubled to lead off the game. and classmate Whitney Scott drove Albert home with a single one out later. Subsequently, Rowe doubled and first-year second baseman Vicky Ortengren walked to load the bases with two outs. Colgate’s first-years have all seen significant playing time this season and have justified it with many critical contributions, and center fielder Tiana Tyeskey delivered another big play with a bases-clearing double to put the Raiders up, 4-0. Tyeskey then scored on a passed ball to give the Colgate a 5-0 advantage. Colgate managed only one more hit for the remainder of the game, but its early onslaught proved enough to secure a 5-3 win.
The win was somewhat tempered by news that Tyeskey suffered a pulled hamstring, an injury that will likely keep her out for two to three weeks.
Seeking to carry over their momentum to the second game of the doubleheader, the Raiders nearly replicated their success. Albert singled to center field to begin the game and, after Olmstead and Scott were retired, Rowe delivered a big two-run home run, her second round-tripper of the weekend and the season. With one out in the fourth inning, Ortengren homered to left field to make it 3-0, also her second home run of the weekend and season.
However, the lead was insufficient as Pennsylvania scored four times in the bottom of the fourth inning. The critical blow came on a three-run homer by Brandi King to give the Quakers a 4-3 lead. Colgate immediately responded in their next turn at bat as Rowe doubled in Scott to tie the game. The Quakers then scored the eventual game winning runs in the bottom of the fifth, as Stephanie Reichert hit a leadoff home run and King added an RBI single. Senior outfielder Erin Hanna drove in first-year outfielder Calla Yee with an RBI single in the sixth to cut the deficit to one run, but the Raiders could not push home the tying run.
The day before, Colgate dropped a hard-fought game to Coppin State. Trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning, Scott led off with a double and Rowe with her first home run of the weekend. With one out, Tyeskey singled and then stole second, followed by Ortengren crushing a two-run homer over the left field fence.
However, Coppin State scored four runs in the sixth inning. The big hit came on a three-run home run from Christen Glascoe off of Rowe, who gave up seven runs on 11 hits in going the distance. Coppin State added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, and they turned out to be necessary, as Scott hit a sacrifice fly and Rowe doubled home Olmstead to make the score 7-6. But pinch-runner Yee was stranded on second as Coppin State induced the final two outs to end the game.
In the team’s second game of the day, Mount St. Mary’s scored a run in the first and five in the second against Howard. That proved enough as Maria Lutz scattered four Raider hits en route to a complete game shutout.
For the second consecutive week and third time in the last four, Rowe won Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors for her outstanding performances. She hit .385 for the week on five extra-base hits, including two home runs, to go along with six RBIs. Rowe leads the Raiders with 15 RBIs overall, and her batting average of .382 is second on the team and leads all Patriot League first-years.
After this weekend’s four-game road trip, the Raiders now have a record of 7-10. This weekend, they begin Patriot League play with four games against Bucknell in Lewisburg.