The University of Scranton softball team clinched a berth in the upcoming Landmark Conference playoffs by sweeping a Senior Day doubleheader on Saturday at Magis Field. The Royals (24-6, 8-2 Landmark), who won Saturday's opening game 2-0 before claiming a 5-4 victory in the nightcap, set up a showdown at Moravian next Saturday for the top seed in the postseason.
Scranton can finish no lower than third in the conference standings. Moravian, currently ranked sixth in the country, is 10-0 in league play, but a Royals' sweep next Saturday in Bethlehem would give the Royals the head-to-head tiebreak as both teams would finish 10-2 in the Landmark. Susquehanna sits in third place at 7-3 and will close their conference slate next Saturday at Drew.
In Saturday's opener, Rentzheimer tied Scranton record for most pitching appearances with 74, a mark previously set by Isabel Mendez from 2006-2009, and fired a complete game shutout to earn her 43rd career victory.
Meaghan Dowdell (Parlin, N.J./Old Bridge) delivered a clutch, two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Rentzheimer the only offense she would need in the 2-0 win.
The game was a pitchers' duel between Rentzheimer and Drew's Stephanie Burns with both team's evenly splitting eight total hits in the contest.
Drew (10-21, 1-9 Landmark) received two of their hits sandwiched around a walk to give the Rangers a bases-loaded with nobody out threat in the top of the second, but Rentzheimer worked out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts followed by a groundout.
Scranton stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the bottom half of the inning and the game remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning.
Rentzheimer drew a two-out walk in the home sixth and moved to third when Maggie Donnelly (New Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Mercy Academy) reached on an error. Donnelly stole second before Dowdell laced a pinch hit single to right center to plate both Rentzheimer and Donnelly with what would stand as the only two runs of the game.
Rentzheimer worked around a leadoff single in the top of the seventh to close out the win, improving to 10-4 on the season by striking out seven batters in the strong outing.
Rentzheimer, Donnelly, Dowdell, and Molly Hampsey (Tunkhannock, Pa./Tunkhannock) accounted for Scranton's four hits in the game one victory while Donnelly also stole a pair of bases.
Like the opener, Saturday's nightcap was tied headed into the bottom of the sixth before Scranton got a clutch hit to bring in the game-winning run.
The Royals started strong with three runs on four hits in their first trip to the plate of game two. Jennifer Sweeney (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) hit an RBI single to left before Megan Zinn (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) came on an RBI groundout from Anna Price (Bordentown, N.J./Bordentown Regional).
Casey DeSarno (Wall Township, N.J./Wall) then doubled to the gap in left center to drive in Sweeney with Scranton's third run.
The hosts extended their lead to 4-0 the following inning as Mackenzie Duffy (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Lackawanna Trail) scored on an RBI groundout from Hampsey.
The Rangers rallied with four runs on five hits in the top of the fourth inning to tie the contest at four-apiece, but the Royals again had some late game magic up their sleeves as Rentzheimer drove in pinch-runner Ryann Kemmerling (Quakertown, Pa./Quakertown) with a one-out single to right field.
Sweeney closed out the victory by stranding the potential tying run at first base following a one-out single to improve to 12-2 in the circle. The freshman fired a complete game, striking out seven batters while surrendering eight hits.
Duffy went 3-for-4 with two runs scored while Zinn, Sweeney, Rentzheimer, and Donnelly had two hits apiece as the hosts totaled 12 hits as a team in the game two victory.
Scranton will host King's on Monday in a non-conference doubleheader starting at 4:00 p.m. at Magis Field.