The wind was ripping and the temperature was below 20 degrees, but Rowan’s softball team was scalding hot.
The brown and gold opened their season by making a statement to the nation that their youth will not be a debilitating factor this season. The No. 9 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III ranked Profs (4-0) opened their season by sweeping the competition in the Virginia Wesleyan College Beach Blast.
“We had a really good weekend,” head coach Kim Wilson said. “It was 18 degrees and 40 mile per hour winds, but we did a great job making the best of it and played good softball.”
The four-game tournament featured not only the supremely talented brown and gold team, but also the National Fastpitch Coaches Association sixth ranked Manhattanville College Valiants. Despite the high ranking opponent, it was Rowan’s young stars who shined in the matchup.
Freshman Jesse DeDomenico made her first start in the collegiate circle against one of the country’s top teams. The Valiants boast a fearsome lineup, one that belted over 60 home runs last season. DeDomenico, though, showed a veteran’s poise.
“She didn’t perform like a rookie pitcher,” said Damariz Mercado, senior captain and first baseman. “It was a good feeling having her on the mound. I felt confident.”
DeDomenico got the starting nod with senior Ashley Lesch sick, but the matchup favored Rowan despite the experience difference. The freshman tends to keep the ball down in the zone, so a duel with a team who likes to the lift the ball was one that worked for the Profs.
After a first inning double to the fence, and a wild pitch scoring a run, DeDomenico settled in, and allowed just three total hits throughout the game. She struck out only two batters, but forced 16 groundouts, which was the gameplan Wilson envisioned.
The freshman also crossed the plate as the Profs’ winning run in the fifth inning, then gave herself an insurance run in the sixth with a RBI single.
“She did a great job, especially composure wise,” Wilson said. “She executed the plan that we had.”
Throughout the rest of the tournament, it was the Profs’ incandescent bats and base running prowess that propelled them to victories. Over the four game span, they averaged just under nine runs per game, and if base theft was a crime the team would be serving 25 for life. They were swiping nearly four bags per game in Virginia.
“The speed is a really big part of our offense this year,” junior Morgan Smith said, an outfielder.
Rowan now heads to Florida for the next week with 12 contests at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Florida. In 2016, Rowan dominated the Rebel Spring Games finishing with an 11-1 record.
In Florida, the Profs will first see the Lakeland University Muskies, who are already 10 games into their season and sitting at .500. Then after Lakeland, the Profs are slated to face the 1-5 Muskingum University Fighting Muskies.
They will open the tournament on March 10 with a double-header against the two different Muskies.
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