NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.—Trailing 2-0 entering the top of the seventh inning, the Rider University softball team rallied for five runs in the opening game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader against Iona College as the Broncs split two games against the Gaels on Sunday afternoon.
“Winning the first conference game feels great,” said first year head coach Jaci Timko. “Especially when we trailed the entire game. Overall, we are starting to hit the ball on a more consistent basis so I’m happy with that progress.”
Iona rallied from a 3-0, first inning deficit to defeat Rider 8-5 in game two.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the seventh inning, senior Emily Cottrell (Beachwood/Toms River HS South) worked a one out walk and freshman pinch hitter Kiera Swank (Bear, Del./Caravel Academy) doubled to left center to put runners at second and third.
A single by sophomore Monica Clark (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) loaded the bases with two outs and sophomore Toni Nino (Adelanto, Calif./Silverado) singled to get the Broncs within 2-1. A fielding error by the Gaels allowed Rider to tie the game 2-2 and senior Dana Sensi (Allentown) followed with a three-run double to left field, giving the Broncs a 5-2 lead.
Nino and Clark each had two of Rider’s seven hits in the opener.
Junior Megan Ailand (Burlingame, Calif./Burlingame) went the distance for Rider (4-25, 1-5 MAAC), scattering six hits and allowing only one earned run for her first win of the season.
“Megan threw a great game and we played excellent defense behind her,” Timko said. “The defense kept us in the game until the bats came around.”
In the nightcap, senior Montana Berg (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista) hit a three-run triple in the first inning to give Rider a 3-0 lead. The hit came with the bases loaded after Clark and Nino each reached on singles and senior Kim Valdes (Jupiter, Fla./King's Academy) was hit by a pitch.
“We started off strong in game two,” Timko said. “We kind of coasted a bit until the very end. Overall I’m happy with the performance in both games. We were able to compete and we put together some good at-bats.”
Iona scored four times in the third inning and the Gaels pushed across two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-3 lead.
Rider got to within one run in the top of the fifth inning when Swank again pinch hit and her single to left field cut the Bronc deficit to 6-4. Junior Amanda Crimarco (Levittown, N.Y./Kellenberg) followed with an RBI ground out cutting the Gael lead to one run.
Iona hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning for the final score.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Kallert (Woodland Park/Passaic Valley) started and worked three and two thirds innings, allowing eight hits and six earned runs.
The Broncs host Manhattan College on April 16 in a MAAC doubleheader, beginning at 1pm.