RPI dominates series

After splitting its first two doubleheaders with Plattsburgh State and the University of Rochester last Thursday and Friday, respectively, Rensselaer’s softball team swept the Rochester Institute of Technology at Doris Robison Field on Saturday April 19. Neither game was very close as RPI jumped out to a big lead early in both contests. With the two wins, the Engineers advance to 16-10 overall and 6-2 in the Liberty League while RIT falls to 4-18 overall and 2-6 against conference opponents.

In the opening game of the doubleheader, RPI quickly moved in front of the Tigers. Freshman centerfielder Morgan Kollmeier led off with a double to centerfield. Then, sophomore second baseman Danielle Balestrini bunt singled and allowed Kollmeier to score on an error by RIT first baseman Sam Killian. Then senior shortstop Tori Hunt singled past short and advanced Balestrini to second base. Later, with one out, sophomore catcher Taylor Ten Eyck RBI-singled to right field to make the score 2-0 RPI. Then, sophomore right fielder Morgan Ten Eyck followed with a sacrifice fly to left field which scored Hunt to make it 3-0 after one inning.

Later, in the bottom of the third, Rensselaer augmented its lead. Junior designated hitter Jena Servidone led off, reaching base on a second error by Killian. Then came the finishing touch. With Servidone on first, Taylor Ten Eyck blasted her third home run of the season over the left-center field fence and notched her second and third RBIs of the ballgame.

Neither team managed to score following the home run and RPI took the opener 5-0. Junior pitcher Kristina Weltzin tallied six strikeouts and just four hits in her fourth complete game shutout of the season and improved her record to a stellar 9-3.

In the second game of the afternoon, RIT scored its first run of the series on a shortstop Sarah Wolcott RBI groundout. But that was the only run the Tigers managed as two walks and two hits in the inning were not enough to obtain a sizeable lead.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Engineers blew the game wide open. With one out, RIT starting pitcher Anna Valentine lost control of her fastball. Both freshman designated hitter Stephanie Caudle and junior left fielder Jocilyn Rudisill were hit by pitches to put runners on first and second. Then, freshman first baseman Courtney McArthur singled to left field to load the bases. Subsequently, Rensselaer tied and took the lead on a two RBI rolling single past second base by senior third baseman Dani Grage. Later, with runners on the corners and two batters out, Balestrini dribbled a single up the middle to drive in McArthur. Finally, a clutch line drive down the left field line by Hunt allowed Kollmeier and Balestrini to score and end the two-out rally with RPI’s fourth and fifth runs of the inning.

RIT’s second baseman Amber Libby managed an RBI single to make the score 5-2 RPI, but that would be the final run for the visitors as RPI sophomore starting pitcher Victoria Hepworth surrendered just one hit in the final four innings of play. The final score of game two was Rensselaer 6, RIT 2. Hepworth recorded her first complete game victory of the season and advanced to five wins and six losses on the season with an outstanding six-hit, five-strikeout performance.

This week will be the stretch run of the regular season for RPI softball, as the team will play 11 games in the next seven days, with home doubleheaders against Union College and Clarkson University this weekend.