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NU softball faces Monmouth, Rider this weekend


The Purple Eagles softball team started this week's six-game road trip with a split at Syracuse, including the team's first every victory over the Orange by a 7-6 score in the first game of Tuesday's twinbill. Niagara returns to MAAC competition for the weekend with doubleheaders at Monmouth on Saturday and at Rider on Sunday. Both days have first pitch scheduled at noon.

Niagara took down the Syracuse Orange in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, taking a 7-1 lead through four innings before holding off a late rally from Syracuse for the 7-6 win. Syracuse picked up a 7-0 victory in the second game to split the doubleheader.

As a team, the Purple Eagles rank fourth in the MAAC with a .271 batting average. Three Niagara players rank among the MAAC's top 15 batters. Bridget Hogan is third with a .384 batting average, while Jerri Ann Orfano ranks sixth at .346 and Sarah Trifoso is 12th at .329. Hogan also leads the Purple Eagles with a .431 on-base percentage, a .505 slugging percentage, and 11 extra-base hits on 10 doubles and one triple. Freshman Kendall Watkins is fifth on Niagara with a .300 batting average and leads the Purple Eagles with three home runs and 18 runs scored this year. In the circle, Sierra Bertrand leads the way with a 3.26 ERA, going 8-5 in 15 appearances (14 starts) with seven complete games. Bertrand is third in the MAAC with 91 total strikeouts and 7.80 strikeouts per seven innings, and she also ranks fifth with an opposing batting average of .232. Jennifer Szilagyi has a 3.51 ERA, going 3-9 in 20 pitching appearances (13 starts) with one shutout and two saves.

Monmouth ranks fifth in the MAAC heading into this weekend's action which starts with Saturday's doubleheader against Niagara. The Hawks are 3-2 in their last five games, including a 22-0 victory in the second game of a doubleheader against Villanova where Monmouth scored 17 runs in the third inning. Two Hawks are batting .300 or better this season; Justene Reyes leads the team with a .353 batting average, followed by Chloe Howerth at .309. Reyes leads Monmouth with 29 RBI and 10 doubles and is tied for the team lead with six home runs, and Howerth has a team-high three triples.
Amanda Riley is 9-15 in the circle, leading the MAAC with 154 strikeouts and ranking seventh with an ERA of 2.68. Sydney Underhill has a 4.23 ERA and 47 strikeouts, going 5-8 in 28 appearances (16 starts).

Rider currently sits 10th in the MAAC, one spot behind Niagara, and opens the weekend with a doubleheader against Canisius on Saturday before hosting the Purple Eagles on Sunday. The Broncs are currently on a four-game losing streak after sweeping Fairleigh Dickinson at home back on April 12. Rider's Monica Clark is batting .242 with a team-high 24 hits, five RBI, and five extra-base hits (three doubles, two home runs). Amanda Crimarco has four doubles and two home runs to lead Rider with six extra-base hits on the season. In the circle, Emily Oltman has started a team-high 13 games for Rider and is 4-9 with a 7.33 ERA and 35 strikeouts. Elyse Cuttic is 2-11 with a 9.15 ERA and 31 strikeouts, while Delany DeMello is 0-5 with a team-best 3.44 ERA and 17 strikeouts.