Rock softball went 4-6 over spring break when the team traveled to Clermont, Florida for the National Training Center (NTC) Tournament, surrounded by familiar and unknown talent.
The tournament kicked off on March 11 when The Rock faced off against Caldwell University. The Green and White lost 3-0, as they were held to seven hits in the contest. The women were then able to turn around that same day with an offensive explosion to defeat Georgian Court University 11-2 behind the bats of senior third baseman Caitlin Baxter and junior center-fielder Emily Nagle. Baxter went 3-4 at the plate with two runs and a run batted in, while Nagle was a perfect four for four in the contest with two runs scored and two runs batted in. Senior Carly Derose got the win, pitching five innings.
“Our pitching is outstanding,” head coach Stacey Rice said. “We’re more of a small ball team, so we took that approach and were able to score and manufacture some runs.”
To start the next day, The Rock came out with another win, this time against Augustana University 8-2. Junior pitcher Brooke Dawson pitched a complete game, only surrendering five hits, with three strikeouts. The Rock would then fall to Fairmont State University 5-3 later that day.
Rice mentioned there is no-one labeled as captain for the team, as she hopes one or a few of the upperclassmen will step into that kind of role.
“We like to watch leaders emerge,” Rice said. “That’s something I look forward to: who’s going take this team, who’s going to lead it and show us which way we need to go.”
After a two-day break, the Green and White shut out Indian University (Pa) 3-0, behind another complete game by Dawson. The junior gave up five runs, but upped her strikeouts to six in the game. The win was followed by another shut-out, this time The Rock was on the wrong end, losing to West Chester University 4-0. Two more losses came for The Rock the next day, first against Bemidji State University 10-2, then University of Charleston 10-5.
“Our defense was struggling a little bit with some errors,” Rice said. “Which is understandable considering it was our first time outside.”
The Rock would then bounce back the following day with an 8-1 victory over Hillsdale College, behind yet another complete game by Dawson, who gave up six hits and retired four batters at the plate. The Green and White’s final game of the tournament came against Nova Southeastern University, losing 5-0.
Nagle improved her season batting average to a team-leading .462 with six runs batted in, while Baxter is behind her with .362, with a team-leading nine RBIs. Dawson leads the pitching rotation with a 3-3 record, 1.62 earned run average, and 33 strikeouts. Nagle and Dawson earned PSAC player of the week honors for their efforts.
“Nagle and Dawson’s numbers were unbelievable,” Rice said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t get more wins because of that.”
Up next The Rock will square off in a doubleheader this Saturday (weather pending) against Lock Haven University, with the first game starting at one and the second game at three at the SRU Softball Complex.