There’s an old adage in baseball that says you can never have too much pitching. But what if you actually can?
For Tom Pardalis, head coach of the Manhattan College softball team, too much pitching is a problem he is content to have. The Jaspers recorded their fourth consecutive shutout and fifth in their last six games after posting 8-0 and 5-0 wins over the Rider Broncs Sunday in their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener at Gaelic Park.
“The hardest thing that I have to do this year is keep everybody happy,” Pardalis said.
Manhattan’s stellar rotation includes Briana Matazinsky, Stephanie Kristo, Nicole Williams and Kayla McDermott, who each sport an ERA under 3.00.
“I’m impressed by our whole staff right now,” Pardalis said. “It’s like whoever is going out there is setting the tone for the day.”
In Manhattan’s 15 wins this season, the team has yielded fewer than two runs per game. On Sunday, Matazinsky pitched a one-hit shutout in the first game. McDermott then tossed five innings in the nightcap before Kristo came in to pitch the last two innings to preserve the goose egg.
“I have a great team behind me,” Matazinsky said. “I know every girl out there is going to make the play when it’s hit to them, so that’s just given me a lot of confidence.”
Matazinsky was nearly flawless in the Jaspers victory over the Broncs in the doubleheader opener. The lone hit against her came in the first inning, after which the Broncs could not find clean contact with the ball, striking out six times.
Matazinsky produced with the bat as well, driving in the first of three runs for the Jaspers in the second inning. Later in the fifth, Matazinsky would pick up another RBI with a single.
Victoria Ross also drove in two runs, continuing her red-hot stretch. The junior third baseman has hit .571 over the last eight games. Ross, who served as a utility player her first two seasons at Manhattan, has seen an increase in opportunities this season and has taken full advantage of them.
“When you’ve been in that spot, you never take your name for granted in that lineup,” Ross said. “It’s always a good thing to hear it, but I think it just shows how competitive the whole team is. It’s a dogfight for a spot on this team, and I wouldn’t want it any other way because it pushes us every single day to be better.”
Ross has a team-leading .353 average this season, all while batting at the bottom of the lineup. Against the Broncs, Ross hit in the eighth spot.
“Right now we’re getting a lot of production from our seven, eight, nine” hitters, Pardalis said. “It’s really turning over the lineup, which is key.”
In both games against the Broncs, the Jaspers (15-9, 2-0 MAAC) displayed their team strengths: pitching, speed and lineup depth. The Jaspers stole a combined seven bases in the two games, including a delayed steal of home in the opener.
In the second game, after Shannon Puthe led off the first inning with a triple and Alexa Dawid reached on an infield single, Dawid immediately put the Jaspers in position to grab an extra run by stealing second. Manhattan would go on to score two runs in that inning, and behind McDermott’s solid performance, would cruise to the shutout victory.