PREVIEW: Colonials clash with Titans in first conference test

Softball+has+a+dual+doubleheader+weekend+with+Detroit+Mercy+for+their+first+Horizon+League+action.+Photo+Credit%3A+Megan+Frey

Softball has a dual doubleheader weekend with Detroit Mercy for their first Horizon League action. Photo Credit: Megan Frey

By Adam Melluso, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.– The Robert Morris softball team (5-3) looks to continue their winning ways as they begin Horizon League play on Friday afternoon at the North Athletic Complex against the Detroit-Mercy Titans. The two sides will square off for the first time in school history this weekend with a double-header on Friday and another on Saturday bookending the weekend.

Recapping Robert Morris

RMU is coming off of a heartbreaking 10-9 loss this past Sunday to close out a two-game series with the Howard Bison (7-2), falling in eight innings. Natalie Higgins and Kristyna Mala led the way for the red, white, and blue in the loss, combining for a total of four runs, five hits, and five RBIs. Also, left-fielder Catalina Saxen contributed an RBI on her only hit of the game.

Previewing Detroit Mercy

This is the Titans’ first overall contest to start their 2020-21 campaign, but just because they haven’t played a game yet this year, don’t let that fool you. The team from the Motor City has combined an impressive stat sheet over the past year, with shortstop/catcher Reese Ruhlman and outfielder/1B Jordan Hazel leading the way for Detroit Mercy in 2020, even though the entirety of their Horizon League schedule was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bottom line, the Titans can and will make you pay in the batter’s box if you can’t contain them with pitching, something RMU will need to do if they hope to attain the first victory in their new conference.

Players to Watch

Natalie Higgins (RMU) – The graduate infielder from Middletown, Ohio has been continuing her offensive prowess from last season, pick up right where she left off with seven runs, 15 hits, three doubles, and 12 RBIs in 31 at-bats during the eight-game stretch so far. If the Titans are unable to get strong coverage both in their pitching and in the outfield, Higgins will start to connect with the bat frequently and could make the afternoon a long one for the Titans.

Reese Ruhlman (DMU) – Despite the struggles of the Titans last season, Ruhlman led the team in several key offensive categories, including runs (9), hits (16), RBIs (8), and slugging percentage (.510). If Ruhlman is allowed to get her weapons clicking early on at the dish, the Colonials will struggle in trying to restrain her scoring touch, even with a consistent pitching effort throughout.

Prediction

I feel that RMU will come out hitting strong early in this one and despite the several powerhouses the Titans possess, it will not be enough as the Colonials take the first game of both doubleheaders this weekend, splitting the four-game set (which concludes on Saturday). I think that Higgins will assert her forte at the plate and will lead RMU for the day in hits to start things off this weekend.

The first pitch between the Colonials and Titans is slated for 2:00 p.m. on Friday with the next game starting immediately after the first is over. The game can be seen on ESPN+. Be sure to visit colonialsportsnetwork.com and follow @RMU_CSN on Twitter for the latest news on all Robert Morris athletics teams.