RPI softball rounds bases in preseason

RPI softball’s trip over Spring Break to Florida was a rollercoaster ride of big wins and heartfelt losses but in the end it won half of the games it played. The first win came in its season opener against the Rhode Island College Anchorwomen.

After surrendering a run in the top of the first inning, the Engineers responded with one of their own and then added another two in the third. Rhode Island managed to score another two runs but could not stop the Engineers as they added another four runs, including three in the sixth to finish the game up 7-3.

The second game of the day came against Washington University in St. Louis. Freshman Kristina Weltzin pitched all six innings for the Engineers but the No. 23 Bears managed to score a run in four separate innings. Unfortunately for RPI, despite its 10 hits, it could only get one run and walked away with a 4-1 loss.

The Engineers bounced back after the loss and dealt Mount Ida College a 10-1 defeat. Weltzin again pitched an effective game, and the Engineers got a solid performance from junior first baseman Gillian McCarthy, who went 2 for 3 with three RBIs. RPI was able to jump out to a 3-0 lead after two innings and extended that with two more three-run innings in the fourth and fifth to finish the game.

Unfortunately, for the second time, a defeat followed a victory as RPI fell to Ripon College. After giving up two runs in the third, the Engineers responded and tied the game at two apiece. Ripon came right back and scored three in the top of the third ,and this time RPI could not respond and the game finished RPI 2, Ripon 5.

Next was a doubleheader against the University of Wisconsin-Stout. In the opener, a single by sophomore Jen Shields gave RPI the lead in the first, but that quickly vanished as the Engineers gave up nine consecutive runs. The Engineers only managed to get four runs total in the contest.

After being held short on hits in the opener, Weltzin started the second game and pitched a nearly flawless match as she only allowed two hits in seven shutout innings. The only run of the game came in the fourth inning. Senior Sara Heller hit a double for her second hit of the game and McCarthy brought her home with a single. With no other runs, the game concluded as a 1-0 win for RPI.

RPI’s next doubleheader was against St. Joseph College and RPI ended the day with two impressive wins. The first game started slow as the Engineers had the only run for the first four innings. The team, however, then exploded with seven runs in the top of the sixth, including a Heller homer for the exclamation point. The second game was decided much quicker as this time the Engineers scored eight runs in the second inning. St. Joseph could not respond and the game finished 14-1.

RPI was brought down to Earth after impressive offensive performances by Keene State College, who was able to match its production. RPI once again started well and had a 7-2 lead in the second inning. However, Keene State responded with two three-run innings to gain the 8-7 lead halfway through the fourth. RPI would tie the game after a hit and run by McCarthy and Heller resulted in Heller scoring due to a throwing error. Unfortunately, Keene State had another three run inning in the fifth and could not be caught as the game finished Keene State 13, RPI 9.

The Engineers’ hitting stayed hot as they bounced back from that defeat with a five inning, 12-1 victory over Geneseo State. McCarthy and Shields put on excellent performances as both finished with three RBIs. Freshman Jocilyn Rudisill also went 3 for 4 with four runs scored and two bases stolen.

RPI then fell to Bates College in the final inning in its second-to-last game of the trip. The game was tied at six going into the ninth inning with RPI junior Aimee Konet going 2 for 3 with three RBIs. With runners on first and second, a Bates sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and allowed them to score the winning run on a single with only one out remaining in the inning.

To finish the trip, RPI played Plattsburgh State in a pitchers’ duel. While Weltzin threw seven innings of three-hit, three-run ball, Plattsburgh State junior Ashley Marshall only allowed one run off one hit. After giving up a run in the first, RPI responded with a run in the fourth to tie the game. Unfortunately, Plattsburgh scored two runs in the top of the fifth on the way to its 3-1 victory over RPI.

The Engineers will continue their season looking to improve their 6-6 record with a doubleheader at Ithaca College on Saturday. Rensselaer starts Liberty League play on April 7 against St. Lawrence University.