Softball earns 23rd victory of season

SENIOR SAMANTHA PAULDING BELTS the ball off a juicy pitch during one of the Engineers’ many doubleheaders this weekend.

A set of four doubleheaders laid waiting for the softball team, which took them right in stride by continuing its positive season. First up was Williams College, the doubleheader did not start well as the Engineers were not able to get a result.

In the first game, the Engineers got off to a slow start, allowing four runs in the first inning. Aside from the blemish, sophomore Charlene Osmanski pitched very well and did not allow another run. Unfortunately, RPI could not muster up for a complete comeback. In the fourth inning, the Engineers scored two runs due to an error by Williams, and in the fifth they scored again due to an error. All in all, the Engineers did not have enough offense to get the win.

In the nightcap, RPI made sure it made up for its lacking offense with a burst of runs. Senior Sara Heller started the game off with a two-run home run in the first inning. The Engineers continued to attack as junior Gillian McCarthy’s three-run homer in the second and freshman Jocilyn Rudisill’s three-run triple in the third helped RPI amass a 10-2 lead after three innings. Freshman Kristina Weltzin continued to pitch well, holding Williams to two runs on five hits as she got the win for the 10-2 performance.

The second doubleheader was against Middlebury College, and this time the Engineers were able to get two exciting results toward a sweep of the series. In the opener, RPI was down 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh. Sophomore Tori Hunt started the comeback with a single and advanced to third on sophomore Jen Shields’ double. A sacrifice fly by sophomore Dani Grage scored Hunt. Shields took third when junor Caitlin McGivern reached on an error by Middlebury. Freshman Kathleen Baker, pinch running for McGivern, stole second, and then both Baker and Shields scored when senior Kelly Erkert hit a walk-off single to left field to give RPI the 3-2 win.

The following game produced more late drama, this time in the sixth inning. Junior Aimee Konet and McCarthy drove in runs in the fourth and fifth, respectively, while Weltzin was keeping Middlebury at bay. Then in the sixth, Middlebury got two runs off a single to tie the game 2-2. Shields led off the sixth for RPI with a single and advanced to second on Konet’s ground out. Grage then singled and took third on the throw while Shields advanced to third. Then, back-to-back, senior Samantha Paulding and Erkert hit into fielder’s choices, driving in a run each to give RPI the 4 -2 lead which would end up being the final result.

The first game of the University of Rochester doubleheader did not go very well for the Engineers. They opened the scoring in the second inning when McCarthy hit a homerun to centerfield. However, RPI then proceeded to give up runs in the third, sixth, and seventh innings. Rensselaer could not recover like it had against Middlebury and wound up with a 5-1 loss.

However, RPI turned it around in game two. Despite allowing three runs in the first three innings, RPI attacked and took the lead with a six-run inning. First, Heller singled to bring home Paulding, then McCarthy walked to bring home Erkert. Osmanski’s sacrifice fly tied the game at three all as Rudisill scored. Hunt then doubled to left, scoring Heller. Paulding came up for the second time in the inning and hit a two-run single to left, giving RPI the 6-3 lead.

Rochester added two more runs in the fifth, but the Engineers responded again with another strong showing. First Heller’s two-run homer gave RPI a 8-5 lead, then another Hunt double gave it the 9-5 advantage. Despite allowing Rochester to close the gap again as the Yellowjackets added runs, Osmanski finished the game strong as her pitching kept the three-run lead intact for the final two innings. Osmanski would pick up her fifth win of the season in the 9-6 victory.

RPI finished its week with a doubleheader against the Rochester Institute of Technology and came away as clear winners in both games. In the first game, Heller was the star as she produced six RBIs, including a grand slam in the fourth inning on the way to a 15-7 Engineer victory in five innings.

In the final game of the week and of the doubleheader, it was Rudisill who turned in a superb performance with two homeruns, a one-run effort in the first and a three-run blast in the fourth. RPI went on to win 16-2 in five innings.

For their outstanding play during the week, Sara Heller and Jocilyn Rudisill were both honored with Liberty League weekly awards. Heller was named Performer of the Week, while Rudisill earned the Rookie of the Week award.

Now 9-1 in the Liberty League, the Engineers will hope to remain in the top spot on the standings after another week of games. Today, RPI hosts Utica College in a doubleheader at 3:30 pm, and also hosts Alfred University on Saturday at noon. Both series will be played at Doris Robison Field.