There’s an old adage in baseball that says you can never have too much pitching. But what if you actually can?
For Tom Pardalis, head coach of the Manhattan College softball team, too much pitching is a problem he is content with having. The Jaspers recorded their fourth consecutive shutout and fifth in the last six games after 8-0 and 5-0 wins against the Rider Broncs on Sunday in the MAAC opener.
“The hardest thing that I have to do this year is keep everybody happy,” Pardalis said. “That’s going to be the hard thing.”
Manhattan’s stellar rotation includes Briana Matazinsky, Stephanie Kristo, Nicole Williams and Kayla McDermott, who each sport an ERA under 3.00.
“I’m impressed by our whole staff right now,” Pardalis said. “It’s like whoever is going out there is setting the tone for the day.”
In Manhattan’s 15 wins this season, the team has given up just 29 runs. On Sunday, Matazinsky pitched a one-hit-shutout in the first game. McDermott tossed five innings in the second, and Kristo came in for the last two innings to preserve the shutout.
“I have a great team behind me, I know every girl out there is going to make the play when it’s hit to them, so that’s just given me a lot of confidence,” Matazinsky said about her performance this season.
Matazinsky was nearly flawless in the 8-0 win against the Broncs. The sole hit against her came in the first inning, after which she proceeded to toss five no-hit innings while striking out six. Matazinsky produced with the bat as well, driving in the first of three runs for the Jaspers in the second inning. Later in the fifth, Matazinsky would pick up another RBI with a single.
Victoria Ross also drove in two runs, continuing her red-hot stretch. The junior third baseman has hit .571 over the last eight games. Ross, who served as a utility player her first two seasons at Manhattan, has seen an increase in opportunities this season and has taken full advantage of them.
“When you’ve been in that spot you never take your name for granted in that lineup,” Ross said. “It’s always a good thing to hear it, but I think it just shows how competitive the whole team is. It’s a dog fight for a spot on this team, and I wouldn’t want it any other way because it pushes us every single day to be better and that’s why we’re a great team.”
Ross has a team-leading .353 average this season, all while batting at the bottom of the lineup. Against the Broncs, Ross hit eighth.
“Right now we’re getting a lot of production from our 7, 8, 9. It’s really turning over the lineup, which is key,” Pardalis said.
In both games against the Broncs, the Jaspers displayed their team strengths: pitching, speed and lineup depth. The Jaspers stole seven bases combined in the games, including a delayed steal of home in the first game.
In the second game, after Shannon Puthe led off with a triple and Alexa Dawid reached on an infield single, Dawid immediately put the Jaspers in position to grab an extra run by stealing second. Manhattan would go on to score two runs in that inning, and behind McDermott’s solid performance, would win 5-0.
After a 3-7 start to the season, the Jaspers have rebounded, winning 12 of the last 14 and eight games in a row. But Pardalis is not surprised.
“Nothing’s changed. We didn’t start off slow. We were playing well, we were playing good teams,” Pardalis said of the team’s winning streak. “We were real competitive with them. Games went down to the wire. Sometimes you win them, sometimes you lose them.”