By Maddie Mulkigian, Contributor
In the 16th matchup between Manhattan College’s and Fordham’s softball teams, the Jaspers exhibited the talent and grit that earned them the title as the champion of the MAAC conference in 2021.
After not scoring a single run in the 2021 Battle of The Bronx, the Jaspers held the Rams to one run up until the sixth inning. In the pouring rain and the blowing wind at Gaelic Park, the Jaspers shut out the Rams for the second, third and fourth inning.
Junior infielder Lauren Rende said that she was prepared for anything that happens on the field, including the weather effects on the game.
“We practice on this field all the time, rain or shine so we’re kind of prepared for anything that happens,” Rende said. “I think we did a good job adjusting today on certain balls that were hit.”
While the Jaspers were not able to maintain this same composure throughout the entire game, they proved that they can give any team a hard time, no matter who is stepping up to the plate.
“I think part of it is just playing every single game like you’re playing just another team,” Rende said. “It’s not the name of the school, it’s just going into every single game thinking about beating the other team no matter who they are.”
The Jaspers approached their game against Fordham with as much preparation as they could after their games against Siena two days prior. Despite their losses against Siena, they were confident that they could compete in any game and stepped onto Gaelic Park on Wednesday with no fear.
After breaking the 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with her first career home run, senior outfielder Megan Gillooley knew that Fordham was not going to give up. With an opportunity to capitalize in the sixth inning, the Rams brought six runners in with a double and a home run to put the Jaspers in a six-point score deficit.
“From an outfielders perspective, we knew that they were going to be a big-hitting team and we were trying to prepare how to read them and where they take pitches and stuff like that,” Gillooley said. “Basically, we just knew that they were a big-hitting team and what pitches they’d be looking to throw, so we kind of expected what happened.”
The frustrating sixth inning that the Jaspers faced was more familiar as they have struggled to play a consistent game for a straight seven innings so far this season.
“This season, we’ve had a lot of experience behind, so we’ve gotten a lot of experience figuring out that singles get us further than trying to hit home runs, so since I think we’ve been practicing it, I think that we know what we’re doing now,” said junior pitcher Mars Deemer.
While the Jaspers have been forced to adjust their game plans after going behind against many of their opponents, they are finding more success in playing confident in themselves and their teammates when each one of them steps up to the plate.
“I think breaking it down pitch by pitch and just making sure that you swing at your pitch that you want to swing at and trying to do your job and then pass it off to the next person is something that I think is really important,” said Rende.
In the end, the Jaspers did not have enough time to generate momentum to get enough runs in to tie the Rams. While the game resulted in a loss for Manhattan, the score did not reflect the challenge that the Jaspers posed for the Rams.
“Fordham is not an easy team,” said Deemer. “They’re probably a little bit higher than what we play in the MAAC and the fact that we held them for as long as we did in the rain shows what we have and just one bad inning is what set us apart.”
As the Jaspers continue to prepare for MAAC play, the first five innings of their Battle of the Bronx game was an opportunity to build confidence in themselves and their ability to give any team a challenge. Any MAAC teams that watched this battle between Manhattan College and Fordham should be ready for a fight from the gritty and tough Jaspers team that they will be facing.
Their next MAAC game is at noon Saturday, April 16 against Iona in New Rochelle, New York.