Softball Win Streak Comes to an End with Back-and-Forth Series Split Against Army

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Softball’s win streak came to an end in dramatic fashion against Army. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Alexander Wolz, Sports Editor

As the saying goes, “all good things can’t last forever,” and the same is true for the Fordham Softball winning streak. After a 3-3 start to the season, the Rams reeled off twenty consecutive wins that featured perfect games, complete outings, home runs and everything in-between.

However, at some point, things were going to end. That they did against the same team that handed Fordham its first loss of the season in the opening game — Army West Point. In a wild four-game series, no game decided by more than two runs, the Rams split on both weekend days to improve to 25-3 on the season against what has proven to be their toughest opponent this season.

Army sat at a deceptive 5-8 coming into the series, having worked through numerous cancelations and postponements, including a two-game series against Fordham scheduled for March 19. The Patriot League team, though, came ready to face Fordham this time, earning the first win of the series 4-3 on Saturday.

Fordham’s ace, graduate pitcher Madie Aughinbaugh, took the mound with her perfect 11-0 record on the line. Through six innings, she was up to form, allowing just five hits and a single run, which happened to come on a home run in the second from Megan Muffett, already with six for the Black Knights on the season.

At that point, Fordham already held a two-run cushion as well. A pair of walks put junior infielder Sarah Taffett and senior first baseman Rachel Hubertus on the basepaths, with a fielding error scoring the former. Freshman Bailey Enoch, serving as the designated hitter, then sent a ball down the left field line to drive in Hubertus for the first of her two RBIs on the day.

Just one inning later, Fordham pulled off a move they have many times before in the double steal. Senior outfielder Brianna Pinto walked to take first, proceeded to steal second, making her a perfect 22 of 22 in those attempts this season.

Aughinbaugh then singled to left, pushing Pinto to third and hence came the double steal. Now, with a comfortable 3-1, Fordham looked to be in good shape heading into the top of the seventh. However, Army had other plans, giving a reminder of just how quickly outcomes can change.

Having thrown numerous complete games already, Aughinbaugh strutted out and cooly earned the first out. A fielding error from junior infielder Julia Martine at shortstop gave Army some light, and they capitalized on it.

Pinch hitter Kayla Edwards singled to add the winning run to the bases. A passed ball moved them both into scoring position, and Aughinbaugh earned the second out with her eighth strikeout. Neither mattered. Angelina Bebek laced a ball into right center and out of Bahoshy Field to give her three RBIs — all unearned against Aughinbaugh — and the lead.

Fordham went one-two-three in the bottom half to seal the crushing loss and an end to the win streak. However, there was no time to pout, and a loss could even be considered a good thing for a Fordham team that needed to recognize that feeling again. They did not intend on keeping it that way, though, making amends in another tight battle in game two and pulling out a 3-2 victory.

In the second half of Fordham’s two-headed monster, sophomore pitcher Devon Miller took the mound this time and pitched the distance. Her final scoreline: seven innings pitched, six hits, two runs and nine strikeouts. 

On the other end, however, fellow sophomore, Army’s Alicyn Grete, was up to the task. She battled with Miller from start to finish to allow just seven hits and three runs, with those small differences determining the outcome. 

This time, Army jumped out to the early lead. Muffett earned a two-out single and was brought home by a triple from Ally Snelling, both her and Miller’s first allowed on the season. Snelling was not done yet, as the Black Knights’ most prolific hitter struck again just two innings later with an RBI double into center field. 

That, however, was all Army got on the afternoon. Miller allowed base runners here and there, including a pair of doubles to put runners in scoring position, but worked out of each jam she faced, and Fordham did just enough at the plate.

The Rams’ first action came in the bottom of the third. Sophomore outfielder Michaela Carter singled to lead off the inning and then went ahead and stole second. Pinto doubled into left, surprisingly failing to bring Carter home, but Aughinbaugh completed the job with a sacrifice fly.

It took just one more inning for Fordham to tie things up from the bat of Bailey Enoch. The freshman’s upward trend continued with a solo home run, as her batting average sat at over .300 throughout the entire series. 

In an even ball game where runs were hard to come by, Fordham had the last laugh in the sixth, courtesy of another home run. This time, it was Martine with her sixth rocket of the year that was enough to lend Fordham the lead, and despite some pressure from Army in the seventh, the game as well.

Day two was a test of depth for Fordham, sending out senior pitcher Anne Marie Prentiss in the opener and senior Gianna Ranieri for her first start in the second. Prentiss, 3-0 on the season, delivered exactly the type of performance Fordham hoped to see.

And that was not just on the mound, but at the plate. After back-to-back singles from Hubertus and Enoch, Prentiss drove the former home with an extra base hit to hand Fordham the game’s first run. A key play at the plate on a grounder from sophomore catcher Amanda Carey limited the damage to just that, however.

Fordham added the two-run cushion in the fourth innings thanks to the use of the long ball again. First pitch swinging, Hubertus sent one out of left field for her sixth home run of the season, and more impressively, 31st RBI.

Army did not go away, however, grabbing one back just a half-inning later with a home run of their own from Grace Snyder, who’s name showed up once again later in the afternoon. 

Fordham secured things, however, in the bottom of the fifth with an unconventional home run of the inside the park variety. A fielding error advanced Carter all the way to second base, where Pinto scored both Carter and herself. Never having homered until this season, Pinto now has two on the year in very different ways, juxtaposing this one against the dramatic walk-off grand slam against Stony Brook.

Army made things interesting as the day of home runs continued with a two-run blast in the top of sixth from Snelling, her first of two on the doubleheader. A single from Amanda Carey restored the Fordham lead to two, but head coach Melissa Inouye was not about to take another chance.

Prentiss earned the first two outs of the seventh and looked to be on her way to a complete game until a single from Taylor Livingston. Inouye then turned to her bullpen, sending out Enoch to finish things off with a fielder’s choice. She earned her second save and Prentiss her fourth consecutive win to the tune of six and two-thirds innings, six hits and three runs.

Whereas the series’ first three matches were back-and-forth pitching battles, both teams decided to go out with some fireworks in the final game, a 9-8 victory for Army that saw a Fordham comeback fall just one run short.

Marking his first mound appearance of the season, Ranieri was understandably shaky in the opening inning. She earned a groundout to start things off, and following a single, a second out on a fielder’s choice. Things then took a turn for the worst.

Leila Hurst singled to move Snelling over to second, and the latter was then brought home with the third consecutive single from Madi Gilmore. One run was in, but three more came as well. Again, it was Grace Snyder with her second homer of the day to give Army a 4-0 lead.

Four is not too intimidating, as Fordham has faced much worse before, but four became eight just one inning later. After two walks, including a grueling 13 pitch at-bat to Annie Brock, Ranieri was pulled from the game with junior Makenzie McGrath asked to go the distance.

Her afternoon did not start off any better. Bebek doubled to right field to score Brock, as well as Lauren Little who was the first on base, and advanced to third herself on the throw. A groundout from Livingston was enough to score Bebek, and one more run came after a Snelling single and an RBI triple by Leila Hurst.

Fordham now had a major deficit to overcome, and for some time, it looked like they were unable to do so, blanked through three innings. However, in the bottom of the fourth, Fordham got things going.

Four consecutive hits opened the inning, first a single from Martine and a two-run blast at the hands of Aughinbaugh. Enoch then added a home run, her second of the series, to put three on the board for Fordham and bring them one step within striking distance.

The fifth came and went for Fordham as the calm before the storm of the sixth. There, the Rams fought back again. Now trailing by six runs and facing two outs after a double play, senior catcher Aubree Barney singled and legged around the bases to score after a triple into the right center field gap from Carter.

With speed on base, Pinto scorched a ball down the left field line to bring home Carter and then crossed home plate herself after a single from Hubertus. Following that flurry of hits, Fordham creeped back into the game with three runs, behind by an equal amount, 9-6.

That lone insurance run — a homer from Snelling in the top of the sixth — ultimately proved to be more than just that. On their last breath with two outs, Prentiss belted a ball out of Bahoshy to bring Fordham within two. The Barney-Carter combination struck in the exact same way — single from the former and triple from the latter — to inch within a single run and put the tying run just sixty feet from the plate. 

Fordham was unable to finish the job, though, and its valiant comeback fell one step short after a foul out from Pinto ended the final game 9-8. It was not the first flare for dramatics Fordham has shown this season, but this time they ended up on the losing side of it.

All in all, the weekend ended in a deadlock, with Army claiming the temporary edge in the overall season series. Fordham will have a chance to even things up on May 4.

These two teams battle each team on the field in what was a much-needed challenge for Fordham. Having rattled off twenty consecutive wins, this series can almost be considered a reality-check, one that will likely help Fordham in the long run despite the two losses in the moment. 

The next test for the Rams comes on the road in a return to conference play with a four-game series against La Salle University this weekend, whom they dominated just two and a half weeks ago. A manageable opponent, Fordham will likely be looking to get another win streak underway.