There had been an ominous feeling lingering around the Rowan softball season that the Profs weren’t performing to their full potential, despite ranking as one of the best teams in the nation.
That feeling was recently been removed, and the Profs are hitting their stride just as the postseason is approaching.
“I think we’re getting more experience, which helps,” said head coach Kim Wilson.
Rowan is in the midst of a seven-game conference winning streak. The brown and gold are finally conflating their offensive potency with their stymying defense. During their winning streak, the Profs are averaging 6.34 runs per game and are holding their opponents to a staggering 1.00 run per game.
Most of this is coming off the arm of a freshman pitcher.
Early in the season it was newcomer Jesse DeDomenico who was torching teams and grabbing the attention of onlookers, while her freshman counterpart, Lauren Shannon, quietly dominated games.
Now, Shannon is rightfully getting the buzz.
“She’s just been doing a great job,” Wilson said. “She’s been great, and works really hard and really listens and is really coachable. I expect her to continue doing those sorts of things, and I think she’ll take us into the playoffs doing a nice job.”
Shannon is 14-0 on the season with a sub-one earned run average, and the righty has now earned three straight New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie Pitcher of the Week awards.
“It’s been a good season so far,” Shannon said. “I definitely wouldn’t have the season I’m having without the team I have behind me. Every game they’ve done a really good job of fielding the ball, making the plays behind me and getting me the run support I need to be successful.”
The Profs’ prolificness was showcased in their most recent set of sweeps over New Jersey City University and Rutgers-Camden. Rowan only had to play 23 of a possible 28 innings due to their dominance in the four games.
They’ve improved their team average with runs batted in (RBI) opportunities in the past four games to .345.
“Physically we’re there, we have the talent, but preparing ourselves before games was a big turnaround we had to make, and we did well with that before the Jersey City games,” Damariz Mercado said of the adjustments made for their offensive surge.
Mercado, a senior, helped lead the offensive onslaught with five RBI in the four games, but it was the underclassmen who stood out for the team captain. Sophomores Gianna Decker and Cassandra Gerard both had home runs over the weekend.
“I think those two wins against NJCU really showed us how many runs we can score in a game, and the confidence we have in each other especially the younger ones who are hitting home runs,” Mercado said. “That really gave them a boost of confidence, and leading into the last two or three [sets of games] in the NJAC, that is a step in the right direction.”
First up in those final sets of games is William Paterson, which is tied with the Profs at 10-2 in the NJAC. The Pioneers were sitting atop the conference until recently, and should present a challenge for Rowan.
“We want to come out strong and tell them how it is in the first few innings with runs,” Mercado said.
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