Softball Extends Win Streak to 12, Sweeps UMass in Weekend Series

The+Rams+saw+plenty+of+runs+cross+the+plate+over+the+weekend%2C+including+26+in+a+single+day%27s+doubleheader+alone.+%28Courtesy+of+Fordham+Athletics%29.

The Rams saw plenty of runs cross the plate over the weekend, including 26 in a single day’s doubleheader alone. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics).

Alexander Wolz, Sports Editor

The Fordham Softball team continued its run of success this past week with another quintet of wins, headlined by a sweep of the University of Massachusetts Amherst to start Atlantic 10 play.

All the way back on Wednesday, the Rams earned their eighth win in a row with an 8-4 victory over St. John’s University in Queens. The final score does not paint the entire picture, however, as Fordham jumped out to a 6-0 lead before the Red Storm fought back.

It was a unique game, serving as Fordham’s first road win of the season and being called off after just five innings due to inclement weather. Regardless, a massive five-run third inning put the game well in Fordham’s favor before the rain came into play and earned them the season series win over the Red Storm.

After bringing home just a run with the bases loaded into the second, Fordham exploded the next inning thanks to RBI singles from senior captains Rachel Hubertus and Brianna Pinto, with a run-scoring double from Bella Ayala set in-between. A pair of errant throws brought an equal number of runs to the plate later in the affair, and Fordham put eight runs on the board.

At the mound, junior Makenzie McGrath earned her first win of the season with four innings of solid work, as freshman Bailey Enoch stopped the damage of a three-run final inning for St. John’s to preserve the Fordham victory.

The win was only a warm-up for a big four-game weekend series in Amherst, as the Rams kicked off conference play against the Minutewomen with a pair of doubleheaders.

Friday saw the weekend’s two closest contests, where Fordham put its 2.69 team ERA on display by holding UMass to just three runs on the day. In the first, graduate student Madie Aughinbaugh, the reigning A-10 Pitcher of the Year, continued her impressive start to the season with another complete game, her fourth consecutive to that point, in a 4-2 victory.

Aughinbaugh, now sitting at an 8-0 record herself, allowed just five hits, none of which went for extra bases, on one run alongside seven strikeouts. After scoring a run of the first with a sacrifice fly from Hubertus, the Rams actually fell behind in the bottom half of the inning.

Aughinbaugh allowed three of her five total hits in the inning, as UMass brought two runs home, the lone earned one a single from Kendra Allen. Following three scoreless innings, Fordham found a rhythm with a run in each of the final innings to come back and secure the game.

Junior Sarah Taffet, the team’s top slugger thus far, sent an RBI double in the fifth to drive home Aughinbaugh. Following a Hubertus walk to start the inning and junior Gigi Speer stepping to take her place on the bases, sophomore Michaela Carter sent her home with a single up the middle to push Fordham into the lead. 

An insurance run in the seventh stretched the lead to two, and Aughinbaugh cleaned things up to start conference play with a victory. 

Next up on the day was game two, and both teams clearly felt the burdens of the close contest preceding it. Again, the pitching was the main story, with four scoreless innings prior to Fordham’s breakout party in the fifth en route to a 4-1 win.

Inspired by Aughinbaugh’s complete game, sophomore Devon Miller accomplished the same, her second in a row following a remarkable 15 strikeout performance against the University of Maine five days earlier. This time, Miller launched another twelve, allowing just one run on four hits. Two walks is an impressive number as well, displaying just how much control Miller possesses on the mound.

While she silenced the Minutewomen’s bats, Jessie DiPasquale largely matched those efforts on the other side of the ball. Prior to the fifth, the sophomore had allowed just one hit and kept the Rams in check. However, things changed very quickly in that inning.

After a pair of flyouts to start things off, Miller reached first with a walk, marking some daylight for Fordham’s batting average leaders. Carter singled with an error sending Miller to third, and Pinto drove in the first run of the game with a single of her own. 

With two runners still on base, Madie Aughinbaugh blew things open with a three-run home run, her second of the season. UMass brought home a run in the sixth, but Fordham had a well-established lead that carried them to the victory.

For as close as Friday’s matches were, Saturday was a much different story. With a combined 26 runs on the day, Fordham dominated UMass with a pair of five-inning victories: 10-0 and 16-2, respectively.

Continuing the weekend’s theme, senior Anne Marie Prentiss threw a three-hit shutout in game one to earn her second win of the season. The gem on the mound was matched by the efforts at the plate, as Fordham’s offense took control early.

Fordham clearly learned something from its late spurt against DiPasquale the day before, as they jumped on her for four runs in the first inning. Two walks to start the game from Aughinbaugh and Taffett applied the pressure, and Hubertus made UMass pay by scoring them both with a center field single. Hubertus, now at 20 total RBIs, is already just one shy of her 2019 season, which was cut short due to injury in half as many games played.

With half as many RBIs, Ayala earned five of them on the day by showing off her power for the first time, driving a pair of home runs out of the ballpark. The first for two RBIs following the Hubertus single and the second a solo home run just two innings later.

Fordham went on to match its five runs scored with an equal number in the fifth. A pair of walks and stolen bases put Aughinbaugh and Martine into scoring position, and a passed ball sent Aughinbaugh home. Ayala added another pair of RBIs with a single and some more commotion on the basepaths enabled Pinto to bring in another two with a single of her own.

The ten-run outburst to start the day, however, was followed by an even more impressive output in the second: 16 total runs, the most for Fordham this season. It is difficult to believe that came in just five innings, the first two of which were scoreless from both sides.

UMass gave DiPasquale another shot, and with just one hit through two innings, things looked to be going their way. In fact, UMass even brought a run home with a sacrifice fly from Caroline Videtto to give them the lead heading into the third.

From there, however, it was all Fordham. Seven runs in the fourth, followed by five in the fifth and four in the final inning for 16 on the day. After Pinto and Aughinbaugh reached base, Taffet blasted a three-run home run for her fifth of the season, top of the team thus far.

Then came a full team effort from the Rams. Back-to-back doubles from Martine and Hubertus scored the former, while Enoch, serving as the designated hitter, singled to score the latter. For her lone hit on the day, Carter then sent a double into center field to drive home two more runs and conclude the inning for Fordham.

The fourth was more of the same. A pair of base hits from Martine and Taffet put them in scoring position, with a Hubertus single scoring one. Speer stepped in as a pinch runner, successfully stole second and Ayala added the last two RBIs to her seven of the weekend. 

The final inning saw some more freshman power, with Enoch sending out the first home run of her career. A Taffet double scored the 15th and 16th run on a day when all seemed to go right for Fordham. Glossed over was another smooth performance from Aughinbaugh for her eighth win to stay undefeated on the season.

With the sensational pitching and contributions up and down the batting lineup, Fordham has hit its stride early in the season. The only question boils down to competition, as the Rams gear up for the brunt of the conference schedule ahead.

Regardless, Fordham defeated the teams in front of it and is living up to expectations thus far, all while showing every bit of that hunger to outright win the conference again.

The next step on that journey comes Tuesday against Stony Brook University before another A-10 doubleheader weekend series against La Salle University. Both of which will be right here in the Bronx.