The University of Rhode Island softball team (7-10) visited Lynchburg, Virginia, this past weekend to compete in the Liberty Softball Classic and went 2-3 in a slate of games against Sacred Heart University, Norfolk State University and Liberty University.
Rhode Island won its first game 3-0 against Sacred Heart on the strength of its pitching. Freshman Becca Rogers and senior Caitlin Kennedy combined for the program’s first shutout since April 9, 2013, against Brown University. This win doubled the Rams win total from a dismal 2014-15 campaign for their sixth victory of the season and third straight. Rogers (4-3) pitched the first 5.1 innings of the game for her second straight win, and extended a streak of nine consecutive scoreless innings.
In the bottom of the third inning Rhode Island scored two runs when junior Danielle Gariglio singled and was driven in by sophomore outfielder Paige Julich on a two-out double. Julich, who had missed the last four games, was then driven in by junior Jenna Cubello. Senior Lauren Klepchick scored the third and final run in the bottom of the fourth, off of a Gariglio single that was misplayed by a Sacred Heart defender. Caitlin Kennedy recorded her third save of the season.
Norfolk State got their revenge on Rhode Island for their series split the previous weekend, with consecutive wins to end the series. Norfolk State shelled the Rams for 10 runs in the second game of the Liberty Softball Classic 10-2, and the last game of the weekend 8-0.
Norfolk only had five hits in the first win against Rhode Island, but drew nine walks. Out of the 10 runs scored on Rhode Island, eight of them were a result of walked batters or defensive errors. The Rams scored one run in the bottom of the first inning and once in the bottom of the third, off of a Julich homerun, her second of the season.
In Rhode Island’s second game against Norfolk State and final game of the weekend, they were defeated 8-0 as wild pitching was again their Achilles heel. Junior catcher Ali Summers and Julich accounted for the only Ram base hits.
They had their biggest win of the season thus far in their third game on Friday with a 7-3 extra-inning win against Liberty that was televised on ESPN3.com.
Liberty was up on the scoreboard early 3-0 after two innings, however Rhode Island evened the score with one run in the top of the fourth and two runs in the top of the fifth. In the top of the eighth inning Rhode Island rallied scoring four runs to break out to a 7-3 lead for Rogers to close out, striking out the final two Liberty players. Rogers picked up her second win on the afternoon, with 5.0 scoreless innings after taking over for Kennedy who pitched the first 2.0 innings.
“Our game against Liberty Saturday night on ESPN was a good opportunity for us to feel almost what it’s like to be in a championship setting where the intensity is high, the stadium was filled and the facility was gorgeous,” head coach Bridget Hurlman said. “This was a great chance for our program being the first time we have beaten a Big South team since 2003.”
The first of two Saturday games on the weekend was a 6-4 loss to La Salle University. Rhode Island started the game with a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning lead before allowing three runs in the bottom of the fifth and three in the bottom of the sixth inning, resulting in defeat. Julich also saw her 13-game hitting streak come to an end.
Following the weekend series, Rogers was named the Atlantic-10 rookie of the week.
“This is a great honor for her it’s something we haven’t done in a while so I think it reflects extremely well on the program,” Hurlman said. “Becca has worked extremely hard and has had a great amount of support from the team when she takes the mound. She has a bright future and will continue helping us move forward in the A-10.”
Rhode Island will host Harvard University the weekend of March 24 for its first home series of the season at the URI Softball Complex.
“We are ecstatic to have our first home series of the year coming up,” Hurlman said. “It’s hard to be on the road consistently week in and week out. It’s going to be fun to be home and play to defend our home turf.”