Softball defeats defending champions, rallies to first road series win since 2018

Fourth-year Jessica Hennelly recorded one double and drove in two runs in Sunday’s win. PHOTO CREDIT:

The University of Rhode Island softball team rallied this past weekend with a 2-1 series sweep over the defending Atlantic-10 regular season champions George Washington.
The win marks the first time the Rams have won an opening conference series since 2016, as they moved to fourth in conference standings. 

            Head coach Whitney Goldstein had nothing but praise for her team’s ability to keep the energy consistent against one of the better teams in the conference.

“We were able to remain consistent on our goals, working towards keeping the energy high and focusing on what we can control no matter the opponent,“ Goldstein said. “We were the better team on that ladder, our energy kept us in the series.” 

The Rams and Colonials battled back and forth to open the series off. GW jumped first in the bottom of the second off the bat of first-year Daniella Lew. The run batted in (RBI) single into right field gave the Colonials the early 1-0 lead. 

The Rams would return the favor in the top of the fourth when fourth-year Jessica Hannelly hit a shallow blooper in the gap of first and second base, causing the ball to spin away from GW. This would allow a waiting Skyler Rapuano to round the corner and score the go ahead run, 1-1. 

The fifth and sixth innings were the most contested, as both teams would again score. GW struck first in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of  doubles off the bats of first-year Ashley Corpuz and third-year Abby Schuab.

 Rhode Island would return the favor in the sixth when Rapuano sailed the ball into center field for a lead-off double of her own.

A sacrifice bunt from Hennelly and RBI single into center for third-year Vicki Viaclovsky were all Rhode Island would need to tie the game at 2-2.  

Rhode Island would take its first lead of the day in the top of the seventh when fifth-year Elena Gonzalez singled and stole second-base with two outs. After a walk, Rapuano singled into left to bring in the go ahead run. Rapuano would finish the day with an RBI, a double, a walk, a stolen base, and two scored runs to help guide the Rams to their first victory, 3-2. 

Fourth-year pitcher Liz Lynchard completed her fourth game of the season, holding the Buff and Blue to just seven hits while striking out nine batters. She retired the final seven batters to secure the victory for the Rams.

GW returned for the second game of the day with vengeance. After grabbing the early 2-0 lead, the Colonials extended the gap in the fifth with four runs off two hits to bring the lead to 6-0. 

After an RBI single from Sidney Torres and two-run homerun from Corpuz at the bottom of the sixth, GW had widened the gap to 9-0 before the officials called the game. 

First-year pitcher Emma Fales held Rhode Island’s offense to just three hits, inducing 10 groundouts and five flyouts as she picked up her first career win of the season. 

In the deciding game Sunday afternoon, the Rams hopped to an early lead and held strong to secure a historic 7-4 victory over the Colonials.

 In the first inning, the Rams would cross the plate five times using aggressive offense and base-running to their advantage. 

After drawing an early walk, fourth-year Rachel Zingerman quickly stole second while Casey Miller followed with a base hit to paint the corners for the Rams. With Gonzalez at the plate, Miller broke for second and was thrown into a rundown, allowing Zingerman to score. Miller successfully completed the double steal and remained in scoring position. 

Soon after, Gonzalez singled to center while Miller moved to third. She then successfully completed the Rams fourth steal of the inning before Viaclovsky drew the walk to load the bases for the Rams. 

Rapuano continued her hot streak with a two run double to center. A sacrifice fly from senior Cassie Swenson allowed Viaclovsky to score, while Rapuano used a fielding error off the bat of Hennelly to give the Rams the early 5-0 lead at the top of the first.

 GW would spend the remainder of the game chipping away at the lead, picking up two runs in the first inning and adding single runs in the second and third inning to pull the game within one. 

Despite the effort, the Rams defense did not give in. 

After an attempt to steal home was halted by Rhody left fielder Jess Hennelly, Rhode Island had all the motivation they needed to complete the game. Hennelly and Rapuano would continue their standout play throughout the fifth and sixth innings with an RBI single from both to give Rhode Island the comfortable 7-4 lead. 

Second-year Katie Zaun relieved starter Lynchard in the bottom of the fifth to successfully shut down the Colonial’s offense. Zaun struck out five batters while allowing just two hits and three walks to pick up her second save of the season.

Skyler Rapuano doubled, singled, walked, drove in two runs and scored twice to help hurl the Rams to victory. For the series, Rapuano was 5-for-8 with two doubles, two walks, four RBIs and four runs scored. She factored in eight of URI’s 10 total runs scored in the series. Rapuano also received her first ever Atlantic-10 Co-Player of the week award for the efforts.

“I’ve never won a player of the week award, so it feels great to earn the title,” Rapuano said. “I think the best aspect of the award is the confidence it brings, not only for me but my teammates as well. No one really expects that type of performance from Rhode Island, but I think they’re finally starting to take notice of everything that we have been working towards.”

With their first series conference win under the books, Rhode Island looks to continue their streak against another tough competitor, George Mason, with the first pitch of a three-game series set for Saturday at noon.