ORLANDO, FLA. (February 12, 2016) - Opening its 2016 campaign, the Rutgers softball team fell to two ranked opponents on day one at the UCF Knights Invitational. After suffering a 5-0 loss to No. 19 James Madison, the Scarlet Knights were edged by No. 17 UCF, 4-1.
RU dropped to 0-2, while both JMU and UCF improved to 2-.
Sophomore Rebecca Hall (Fairfax, Va.) led the Scarlet Knights with a total of three hits on the day. Junior Bridget Carr (Pequannock, N.J.) followed with two hits in three at bats, while senior Melanie Slowinski (Severn, Md.) added in two hits of her own.
Senior Dresden Maddox (Kennesaw, Ga.) and junior Shayla Sweeney (Barrington, N.J.) earned the starts in the circle for RU.
GAME 1: RUTGERS vs. NO. 19 JAMES MADISON - BOX SCORE Despite two hits from Hall and one from Slowinski, Rutgers softball fell to No. 19 James Madison in its season opener.
Dresden Maddox suffered the loss for RU, while Jailyn Ford registered the win and Megan Good notched a save.
The Dukes were led by Ford, a top 50 2016 USA Player of the Year "Watch List" selection, with two-for-two performance, including an RBI, two walks and a run. Erica Field, the 2015 CAA Defensive Player of the Year, added in two hits of her own.
After Maddox retired the first three batters at the plate, the game remained scoreless after one inning of play. JMU's Ford ignited the Dukes with the first hit of the game and, eventually, the first run on an RU miscue. Despite the Dukes adding another run, Maddox stumped the surge, striking out the final batter to end the top of the second with a score of 2-0.
Although Slowinski would register RU's first hit of the game, the Scarlet Knights were unable to bring her home in an attempt to diminish the Dukes' 2-0 lead at the bottom of the second inning.
JMU would go on to load the bases on two occasions, however, the Dukes only managed to get one run across. RU ended the bottom half of the third by stranding three runners on.
At the top of the fourth, junior Aubrie Levine (Yorba Linda, Calif.) took over in the circle. After JMU added two more runs on three hits, Levine forced a ground out to strand two Dukes on, sending the Scarlet Knight offense back to the plate.
Despite a double from Hall in the bottom of the fourth, it was not enough to get the offense rolling. The defense held strong though backing up the bats with three scoreless innings. Levine and the defense worked a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fifth and escaped a loaded bases situation with an out at the plate in the sixth.
In her first appearance as a Scarlet Knight, freshman Whitney Jones (Santa Monica, Calif.) registered a 1-2-3 inning, forcing three groundouts to hold the deficit at 5-0. However, Rutgers' bats remained quiet in the final inning.
GAME 2: RUTGERS AT UCF - BOX SCORE In its second game of the day, Rutgers softball was edged by No. 17 UCF, 4-1.
Carr led RU with a career-high two hits, including her first career triple. Senior Jordan Whitley (Clayton, Del.), Slowinski and Hall each added in one hit in loss.
UCF was led by Brittany Solis with two hits, one run and one RBI, while four other Knights contributed one hit in the win.
Senior Stephanie Huang (Paramus, N.J.) led off the game with a walk. Although she found her way to third, the Scarlet Knights were unable to bring her home.
UCF responded by sending three across in the bottom of the frame. However, Sweeney then forced three straight groundouts to escape the inning without any further damage.
At the top of the second, RU's bats then came alive, as Slowinski started things off with a double. Carr followed with her first career triple to send Slowinski home, cutting into the deficit, 3-1.
After UCF used a hit and an error to extend its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the second, the game entered a stalemate. The Scarlet Knights stranded a runner on base in the following inning, however, Sweeney backed up the offense with a 1-2-3 inning in the third.
Sweeney went on to register three more scoreless innings to keep it a three-run game, as RU took its final chance at the plate in the top of the seventh.
Although freshman Allie Yoffee (Ringwood, N.J.) drew a walk, it was not enough to rally a comeback.
Rutgers continutes its weekend at the UCF Knights Invitational on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights first face Fordham at 9:30 a.m. ET followed by a game with No. 5 Alabama at 12 p.m.ET.
- Rutgers opened the 2016 season with losses to two ranked opponents in No. 19 James Madison and No. 17 UCF. It marked the first time RU opened the season with two losses since 2013.
- Rebecca Hall notched the 13th multi-hit game of her career against JMU.
- Bridget Carr posted a career-high two hits in the game against UCF, including the first triple of her career.
- All five freshmen made their first appearances as Scarlet Knights. Adriana Burcar registered her first two career starts, while Arielle Couso and Nicolette Anico entered the game as pinch runners, Allie Yoffee entered as a pinch hitter.Whitney Jones registered a 1-2-3 inning in her first inning for RU.
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