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Rutgers Baseball & Softball have good weekend series

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These are good times to be fans of Rutgers softball and baseball. The two squads are taking the B1G by surprise with some good early results. But big series await both teams this weekend.

Senior Jackie Bates' .404 BA leads RU
Senior Jackie Bates' .404 BA leads RU
scarletknights.com

Softball 19-9, 7-2 B1G

Jay Nelson's squad has now won three straight conference series, including a just concluded sweep of Michigan State.  And while the teams they've beaten aren't among the conference's elite - Indiana (12th place), Purdue (8th), MSU (14th) - it is still surprising to those in the B1G.  The announcers on the Michigan-Minnesota softball telecast on BTN commented that the Knights were not necessarily counted on to be in the position they are now.  And, yes, I was watching Big Ten softball on TV on Sunday.

In its first home series, RU swept the Spartans in some dramatic fashion.  After the first game was called because of darkness on Friday (did anyone say we need lights?), the team came back to finish the game on Saturday, winning 6-5 in a walk off 11-inning contest. In the top of the eleventh inning, MSU plated a run via back-to-back hits to move in front, 5-4.  Rutgers quickly put runners on in the bottom half of the inning and sophomore Bridget Carr gave the Scarlet Knights just what they were looking for, registering a two-run single to give RU a 6-5 walk-off victory  Alyssa Landrith earned the win to improve her overall record to 9-5 on the season.

The regularly scheduled game on Saturday was a bizarre contest.  After taking an early lead, Rutgers gave up a 16-run fourth inning.  You read that correctly: 16 runs.  One-six.  I gave them up for dead as I followed it on Gametracker.  But the Knights came back with five runs in the bottom of the inning and then eight more in the fifth inning to win a 22-17 game.  The Knights wrapped up the sweep with a 5-2 win on Sunday.

Big Ten Scheduling

An interesting point raised by the BTN broadcasters was that the conference has a de facto divisional scheduling pattern in place for softball.  With RU and Maryland coming into the conference, teams will not play all 13 other squads.  As a result, Rutgers' only series with one of the top B1G softball teams is this weekend at home versus Michigan (33-6).

Shortage of games?

I've been thinking about this for a while.  Rutgers has played fewer games than any Big Ten squad except Michigan State.  RU's 28 games pales compared to Michigan's 39, Purdue and PSU's 38, or Nebraska's and Minnesota's 37.  RU did well in its early-season western tournaments; would it be better prepared for conference play if it had more games under its belt?

Big Ten Standings


Overall

Conference


W-L

%

W-L

%

1.

Northwestern

20-11

.645

8-0

1.000

2.

Michigan

33-6

.846

7-2

.778


Rutgers

19-9

.679

7-2

.778

4.

Nebraska

20-17

.541

8-3

.727

5.

Minnesota

30-7

.811

6-3

.667

6.

Maryland

23-16

.590

5-4

.556


Illinois

14-21

.400

5-4

.556

8.

Purdue

24-14

.632

4-5

.444


Penn State

21-17

.553

4-5

.444

10.

Ohio State

19-16

.543

3-6

.333

11.

Iowa

12-30

.286

3-8

.273

12.

Indiana

11-28

.282

2-7

.222

13.

Wisconsin

14-20

.412

1-7

.125

14.

Michigan State

16-20

.444

1-8

.111

Updated through all games of April 5.

Results and Upcoming Schedule

4/03/15

vs. Michigan State *

RU Softball Complex

W, 6-5 (11)

4/04/15

vs. Michigan State *

RU Softball Complex

W, 22-17

4/05/15

vs. Michigan State *

RU Softball Complex

W, 5-2

4/07/15

at St. John's

Jamaica, N.Y.

4:00 p.m. ET

4/08/15

vs. Princeton

RU Softball Complex

4:00 p.m. ET

4/10/15

vs. Michigan *

RU Softball Complex

3:00 p.m. ET

4/11/15

vs. Michigan *

RU Softball Complex

1:00 p.m. ET

4/12/15

vs. Michigan *

RU Softball Complex

12:00 p.m. ET

Baseball  10-19, 5-4 B1G

They were 3-13 before conference play began.  Yes, they played some better competition down south, but the record had me wondering how Rutgers would do against improving Big Ten baseball.  I'm feeling better now, although the two midweek losses to New Jersey opponents did not make me feel good.

The Knights wrapped up their second series win, taking down Minnesota, 6-5, on Sunday to win the rubber game. The win was secured by a go-ahead double by sophomore Christian Campbell in the eighth inning.  On the mound, sophomore Max Herrmann (2-2) allowed RU to make its comeback with three scoreless frames out of the bullpen. The left-hander permitted one hit and two walks in earning his fifth career win. Following up, senior Jon Young surrendered a single and hit a batter, but collected a pair of fly outs to go with a strikeout to earn his first save of the season.  Rutgers split a weather-caused doubleheader on Saturday, winning the first game, 13-6, before dropping the nightcap, 11-9.

In conference play, Rutgers has taken series against two of the bottom teams in the conference.  And it went to a 1-0 loss in the rubber game versus fourth place OSU.  It has been a pretty good start.

Hoosier-ball

Rutgers, though, has a very big series coming up against Indiana, which won both B1G regular season and tournament titles in 2013 and 2014.  Last year, the Hoosiers went 44-15 and hosted an NCAA Regional, going 2-2 and being eliminated by Stanford.

Indiana's Bart Kaufman Field - iuhoosiers.com

Indiana had four All Americans on its squad last year, two first team, two second.  And five Hoosiers were drafted in 2014, the most from IU in the same draft since 2009. Kyle Schwarber (fourth overall, Cubs), Sam Travis (67th, Red Sox), Dustin DeMuth (146th, Brewers), Joey DeNato (562nd, Phillies) and Jake Kelzer (662nd, Yankees) all had their names called.

Not quite Big Ten-ready? - rvc73

Big Ten Standings


Overall

Conference


W-L-T

%

W-L

%

1.

Iowa

21-7-0

.750

6-0

1.000

2.

Illinois

24-6-1

.790

5-1

.833

3.

Maryland

22-7-0

.759

7-2

.778

4.

Ohio State

21-7-0

.750

6-2

.750

5.

Rutgers

10-19-0

.345

5-4

.556

6.

Nebraska

23-10-0

.697

3-3

.500

7.

Michigan

18-13-0

.581

4-5

.444

8.

Michigan State

15-14-0

.517

2-4

.333


Northwestern

8-22-0

.267

2-4

.333

10.

Indiana

18-10-0

.643

2-6

.250


Penn State

8-17-0

.320

1-3

.250

12.

Minnesota

10-17-0

.370

2-7

.222

13.

Purdue

10-21-0

.323

1-5

.167

Updated through April 5, 2015

Results and Upcoming Schedule

3/31/15

vs. Manhattan

Bainton Field

L, 2-0

4/01/15

vs. Monmouth N.J.

Bainton Field

L, 6-4

4/04/15

vs. Minnesota *

Bainton Field

W, 13-6


vs. Minnesota *

Bainton Field

L, 11-9

4/05/15

vs. Minnesota *

Bainton Field

W, 6-5

4/08/15

at Fordham

Bronx, N.Y.

6:00 p.m. ET

4/10/15

at Indiana *

Bloomington, Ind.

6:00 p.m. ET

4/11/15

at Indiana *

Bloomington, Ind.

2:00 p.m. ET

4/12/15

at Indiana *

Bloomington, Ind.

1:00 p.m. ET