The last two games for Manhattan’s softball team were an offensive clinic, producing a combined 20 runs, including a seven-run rally in the last game against LIU Brooklyn on March 24.
But Saturday was the complete opposite for the Jaspers, whose bats went quiet, in a split of a doubleheader against Sacred Heart.
After dropping the first game in a 1-0 shutout, the Jaspers bounced back in the second contest, but only behind more solid pitching, as the offense was anemic once again, producing just three runs on three hits.
“The pitching was good, but our focus is not where it should be at this point in time,” Tom Pardalis, Manhattan’s head coach said about why his team’s offensive struggled. “Not happy with where we are. We need to hit better and make contact. We struck out 22 times today and that’s not acceptable.”
Against Sacred Heart, the Jaspers had a combined five hits, after breaking out for 19 hits and 20 runs over the previous two games.
The performance left Pardalis displeased, a message his team was made aware of.
“I don’t think we played our best softball today,” catcher Elena Bowman said. “I think we kind of got away from our approach. I think we were swinging at their pitches and we just weren’t patient. This week we’ll definitely work before we get into MAAC’s and shortening up our swings and just kind of getting back to what we do, which is get runners on base and score runs.”
Bowman was one of the few bright spots in the Jaspers’ lineup, going a combined 1-for-3, while drawing three walks. Her lone hit of the day proved to be the biggest one for the Jaspers. After a lengthy at bat in the bottom of the fifth inning of the second game, Bowman blasted one to left-center that broke a 2-2 tie, and wound up being the difference in a 3-2 win.
“I just tried to slow the game down a little bit,” Bowman said of her decisive at bat in the fifth inning. “I tried to let her come to me a little bit more. I was able to see a lot of pitches. She had kind of a funky little wind up. She hid the ball well, but once I fell down two strikes I was just thinking, ‘keep my bat short and put it in play somewhere,’ and I ended up getting a hold of one so that was nice.”
While the lackluster offense was alarming, Manhattan’s pitching didn’t go unnoticed.
In the first game, Briana Matazinsky bounced back from her previous start in which she went two innings giving up four runs on eight hits, by going tit-for-tat in a pitcher’s duel with Sacred Heart’s Jamie Carlson.
Matazinsky pitched a complete game, giving up one run and striking out 11 hitters, but was one-upped by Carlson, who was flawless, not allowing a run to score, while striking out 12 and surrendering just two hits in a 1-0 win for Sacred Heart.
The Jaspers got another gem in the second game. Stephanie Kristo got the start, but after suffering an injury, was replaced in the second inning by Danielle Gabriel.
Gabriel, who had struggled in six appearances this season with a 6.06 earned run average, was effective against Sacred Heart, giving up two unearned runs, allowing three hits and striking out six in six innings of a victory.
“I think after not playing a whole lot last season it was just getting back into things,” Gabriel said about her slow start to this year, which was improved upon today. “You know, practicing, getting reps in and getting confident.”
“She did a great job because she’s been out herself and that just added to our list,” Pardalis said. “But she was ready to come in and she did a good job.”
The Jaspers return to action on Wednesday in a home game against Stony Brook. The struggles on offense is something Pardalis hopes the Jaspers put behind them. But if they are to do so, he wants it to be against top-notch pitching.
“We want to face good pitching like we did today,” Pardalis said. “… When we see good pitching it gets our bats a little quicker, or like today, our bats are a little slower. So we need to gear up and get ready for league play.”