Softball begins season with two convincing wins

Ramapo’s softball team got off to a hot start in the 2023 season as they traveled to John Jay College and took care of business, sweeping the doubleheader in convincing fashion by scores of 7-3 and 9-0. The pitching was dominant and the lineup proved to be one of the deepest and most well-rounded in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

The Roadrunners’ first run of the season came on a wild pitch by John Jay pitcher Madison Gil, scoring catcher Alexis Corra. That was all Ramapo put up in the frame, and in the bottom of the inning John Jay tagged starter Mahogany Wheeler for three runs, taking a 3-1 lead.

Showing resilience, Ramapo battled right back for three runs of their own in the top of the second. After back-to-back singles from Anna Messina and Nicole Cerasi, Avery Kontura collected her first career RBI on a single. The next batter, Katie Rygiel, brought home Kontura and the speedy Jaclyn Monaco on a two-run double, giving Ramapo the lead.

“I was super excited and nervous. It’s been so long since our scrimmages in the fall, but I’ve been working hard this winter and I trusted my ability to do what I needed.”

– Kassy Stefanski

From that point on, both pitchers settled into grooves. In the top of the seventh, with Ramapo leading 5-3, Monaco added two huge insurance runs on a single up the middle, her third hit of the game. Those two runs would be the final time either team scored in game one.

Despite a shaky first inning, Wheeler kept Ramapo in the game as she shut down John Jay batters from that point on. After the first inning, she had a streak of nine batters retired in a row. She completed the game while giving up three runs, five hits, walking four and striking out six. However, in her final six innings, she gave up no runs, only three hits and two walks.

Game two was started by freshman Kassy Stefanski, and her first collegiate start could not have gone much better. She did

Junior Avery Bartolomeo collected three hits on the day and played great defense at first base. Photo courtesy of Ramapo Athletics

not allow a hit until the fourth inning and only allowed two the entire game. She ended up going six shutout innings, striking out eight and walking none. 

“I was super excited and nervous,” Stefanski said about her first ever collegiate start. “It’s been so long since our scrimmages in the fall, but I’ve been working hard this winter and I trusted my ability to do what I needed.”

Coming on in relief of Stefanski was another freshman, Brooke Knight. After starting the first game in left field, her first time on the mound also ended very well. She went the final inning without giving up a run and, after walking her first batter, struck out the next three to face her.

In addition to stellar pitching, the offense was firing on all cylinders. After not scoring in the first two innings, Corra drove in Kontura to give the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, with the bases loaded and two outs, Kontura drilled a three-run triple to left center. She ended game two with four RBIs after a sacrifice fly in the sixth. 

In the seventh inning, Ramapo scored three more runs, two on a Messina triple and one on Kori Gargiulo’s first collegiate hit and RBI. As a team, Ramapo collected 13 hits en route to a 9-0 win. Another positive for the team is that they were able to get seven freshmen some playing time this early in the season, all of which contributed to the successful day.

Ramapo will return to action at THE Spring Games in Winter Haven, Florida, beginning on March 11. The team will play 12 games in the seven games they are down south, with the first being against Nebraska Wesleyan University at 2 p.m.

Featured photo courtesy of Ramapo Athletics