Softball searches for wins

Going into the weekend, the Roger Williams University softball team was staring at a 1-3 record in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). Needing wins, they took on the University of New England on Saturday in a doubleheader at home.

The Nor’easters took a one-run lead early in the first game and with runners on base, it appeared that they would pile up runs on the Hawks defense, but RWU sophomore pitcher Alyssa Murray retired the side before any more damage was done.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Hawks would get on the board off sophomore Tara Chatowsky’s hit into right field with two runners on. The lead runner, senior captain Haley Ledbetter, hustled past third base and was waved home to score. As the throw came in, the catcher surely had an out, but Ledbetter, determined to score, twisted in her slide to avoid the tag and touched home plate to tie the game at one.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Hawks needed just three outs to put the Nor’easters away in order to have their shot at a one-run walk-off win, but UNE’s Caroline Schoenbucher blasted a two-run home run to give the visitors a 3-1 lead. The Hawks were unable to stage a comeback and fell to 1-4 in the conference with one more game to play that day.

The second game of the doubleheader did not get any better for the Hawks and they lost 12-1, marking a five-game losing streak for the team.

A day later, the Hawks faced off against the last-place Wentworth Institute of Technology Leopards. Against the winless team, the Hawks took full advantage and ended both games on the mercy rule. By winning 12-0 and 10-2, the Hawks improved to 3-5 in the conference and moved into sixth in the CCC.

On Monday, the Hawks finally took on Nichols College after two rain delays had postponed their meeting. Both wins in their doubleheader against the 1-3 Bison would shoot RWU into fourth place – the spot they were predicted to finish in the CCC preseason standings.

Early on, it was evident that the Bison’s record did not reflect their play. Nichols jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning, including two unearned runs. The Hawks fought back with two runs of their own, but the Bison’s fifth run shut down any comeback, sealing a 5-2 victory for Nichols.

“The first game, I thought we were in it right until the end and then a couple little things here and there,” said senior shortstop Haley Ledbetter. “We just couldn’t get it done.”

Before visiting Nichols, in the second game of all doubleheaders against CCC opponents, the Hawks were 1-3 with a total of 40 runs allowed while only scoring 17 of their own. The endurance of two games has appeared too much to handle for the team this season as they had only let up a combined 12 runs in the first half of all doubleheader games in their four previous ones prior to playing Nichols.

The second game did not end the way either team expected. The Hawks were down 3-1 heading into the sixth inning where a strong offensive surge put them up 4-3. With only three outs to take the win, Bison infielder Taylor Commesso knocked in a home run to tie the game at 4-4.

In extra innings, the Hawks powered through to score one run and take the lead before they were halted by the Bison defense. In the bottom of the eighth, Nichols tied it up once more off an RBI single. With one runner on, the umpires called the game, as they could no longer see. With no lights to flood the field, the game is recorded as a 5-5 tie until the Hawks travel back to Dudley, Massachusetts to finish the end of the game. The loss in the first game resulted in the team matching their loss total of last season with nine more games to play, including the end of the second game against Nichols.

“The second game [was] unfortunate because time ran out and it got dark, so we didn’t really have a choice,” said Ledbetter.

Once a team on the brink of a championship a season ago, the Hawks now need to focus on generating wins against conference opponents to qualify for the postseason this year.