Here’s the pitch: Jaspers continue to dominate

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It is easy to say it was a solid week for the Manhattan College softball team. 

The Jaspers went 4-2 in their six games, and even saw freshman Nicole Williams throw the first no-hitter in program history.

But the week ended on a sour note for the Jaspers, who dropped the second game of a doubleheader last Saturday against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, a team that entered the game with a 9-20 record.

“The second game I don’t think we were ready,” said Cat Clifford, Manhattan’s assistant coach. “I think that we took our runs for granted, and we took the fact that we were winning for granted. We have to shut the door in those games.”

While the loss to the Blue Devils stung the Jaspers, there were silver linings to the week. The loss came against a non-conference opponent, meaning the Jaspers remain in sole possession of first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with an 8-2 record. 

The Jaspers, 22-12 overall, also continued their pitching dominance.

Manhattan allowed just 2.3 runs per game over six contests with two shutouts, highlighted by Williams’ no-hitter against Saint Peter’s. At the end of the week, Manhattan lowered its team ERA to a MAAC-leading 2.39.

It’s been a collective effort for the Jaspers, whose pitchers have taken control of games. Brianna Matazinsky and Williams each have ERAs under 2.00, while Stephanie Kristo and Kayla McDermott have ERAs under 3.00.

“I think there’s always friendly competition and there always needs to be,” Clifford said of the pitching staff. “I think it pushes them to get better. It’s not always going to be our (No.) 1 and 2 getting the job done. It’s going to be 1 through 5.”

Manhattan seems to be locked in with their first and second starters in Matazinsky and Williams, but the rest of the staff is pushing for more opportunities. On Saturday against Central Connecticut State, Kristo threw a complete game in only her fourth start of the season.

“Kristo is a great kid, and we’ve told her that when we need her we know she’s going to be ready,” Clifford said. “And that’s one of those instances.”

The pitching staff became even deeper as Danielle Gabriel came on against the Blue Devils for her first appearance since March 26. Gabriel pitched 1.2 innings and gave up a run, but it could have been worse as she pitched out of jams in both the fifth and sixth innings.

“I think that she did a great job,” Clifford said. “I think that she did a good job going in, she kept her head up. She’s a great kid and we’re happy to have her. I think she’s one of those ones that she knows when we need her that she’s ready. She’s always ready to go.”

The story of Manhattan’s season continues to be its extraordinary pitching, but the Jaspers will need more consistency out of its lineup for the rest of the season.

“We have to work on making sure we finish the game,” Clifford said. “We have to make sure that everyone is in it one through seven (innings). It can’t just be inning one and two or six and seven. We’ve been telling them that they have to treat every game like it’s a championship game, and that’s what we have to get back to.”

The MAAC portion of the Jaspers season continues this weekend when Manhattan hosts Siena in a doubleheader Saturday before meeting Marist in a twin bill Sunday. All games will be at Gaelic Park with first pitch both days slated for noon.

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