Playing in the final two games of a 10-game home stand, the Manhattan Jaspers softball team concluded the stretch with two 5-0 wins against the Monmouth Hawks.
Amy Bright and Briana Matazinsky did what they have been doing all season long: keeping the Jaspers in the game with solid pitching.
Only today, they were more than solid. They were dominant.
Both stifled Monmouth’s hitters in route to a pair of complete game shutouts.
“They’re doing a terrific job,” Elena Bowman, Bright and Matazinsky’s battery mate said. “They’re just hitting their spots. They’re trusting me and what I’m calling. … At the same time, they’re completely confident in their pitches and they’re so confident in our defense to get the job done too. They’ve been excellent on the mound all season long really.”
The victories add on to a program best 8-0 start to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play by the Jaspers, and has head coach Tom Pardalis dreaming big.
“If we play well on the road, we’re going to be hosting the MAAC’s here,” Pardalis said. “That’s important to us, that we keep playing well. …”
The first game of the double header was close until the fifth inning.
It was 2-0 after Matazonsky—playing right field in the first game—hit a two-run homerun in the second inning.
In the fifth, the Jaspers got a timely hit in the form of a three-run blast from Jenn Vasquez.
That gave the Jaspers a 5-0 lead, which they would hold on to, to win the game.
“It helps when the pitchers are shutting it down,” Bright said. “It gives everyone confidence, and it helps the pitchers when we hit the ball. It gives you confidence when you have a five-run lead or a three-run lead. It’s a little more easy to pitch than a 0-0 game, so the hitting has really helped the pitching.”
The second game was almost a replica of the first, with a close contest the whole way.
Bowman sent a rocket to left field that almost hit the trains for a solo shot in the first inning. It was her first homerun in 11 games, and gave her a league-leading 10th homerun on the season.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Bowman says. “Trying to get my hands through. … Just trying to hit the ball hard and it’s nice that it went out. It felt good.”
The Jaspers would hold on to the minimal lead until the sixth inning, thanks in part to poor hitting with runners in scoring position by Monmouth.
The Hawks had left eight runners on base by the sixth inning, including a golden opportunity in the fourth inning, when they stranded the bases loaded.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Jaspers would explode for four runs to give themselves some insurance.
Matazinsky helped her own cause with a two-run single, and went back out to the mound for the seventh to complete her shutout and clinch a second consecutive 5-0 victory.
The two wins keep Manhattan in first place at 17-9 and a program best, 8-0 start to MAAC play.
The team will now embark on a 12-game road trip, where it will be looking to continue adding more wins to what has so far been an excellent season.
“We’re ready,” Bowman said. “We’ve done what we needed to do at home. We accomplished all that we’re trying to do, which is win, and so we have a lot of momentum going on the road and we’re just really excited to go out and play hard.”