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Sunday, April 23, 2017

NU softball shuts out Rider twice

All WNY News     Sunday, April 23, 2017    

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LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – To cap a six-game road trip, the Niagara Purple Eagles softball team held the Rider Broncs without a run in both games of a doubleheader, winning the first game 10-0 in five innings before concluding the day with a 6-0 victory. The Purple Eagles are heating up just past the midway point of conference play, as the team is 6-2 in its last eight against MAAC opponents after a 0-4 start to the conference schedule.

Sierra Bertrand and Emily Johnston combined to pitch a five-inning shutout in the first game of the day, as Bertrand allowed one hit in four innings while striking out three batters. Johnston closed out the game in the fifth inning, yielding one hit and striking out two. Jennifer Szilagyi pitched her second complete-game shutout of the season to give Niagara (15-19, 6-6 MAAC) the sweep of Rider, picking up her second-straight win while allowing six hits to the Broncs and striking out one. Niagara's defense was strong as well and did not commit an error in either game.

At the plate, Bridget Hogan went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored in the opening win, while Sarah Trifoso and Kendall Watkins both went 2-for-3. Chanelle Ward led the batters in game two, driving in three of Niagara's six runs and batting 3-for-4.

Game #1: Niagara 10, Rider 0 – 5 innings

Niagara opened up a five-run lead right off the start of the game. Sarah March opened Sunday's doubleheader in dramatic fashion, ripping a solo home run over the center field wall. Jerri Ann Orfano and Bridget Hogan hit consecutive doubles to make it a 2-0 lead. After Rider picked up a second out, Niagara got runs on consecutive singles from Maria Gabriele and Taylor Moody. Moody scored on a fielding error as Rachel Funk hit a ball to left field, making it 5-0 after the top of the first
The Purple Eagles picked up another five runs in the top of the second. Chanelle Ward hit a leadoff single and reached home on Hogan's double to the right field gap. Kendall Watkins followed up with a two-run homer over the left field wall, her third home run of the week. Niagara capped the top of the second with a 10-0 lead, as Rachel Funk brought the ninth run home on a double to right center field before she scored on a single from Sarah Trifoso. Rider's lineup went three up, three down in the bottom of the second as Niagara held the 10-0 lead after two full innings. Starting pitcher Sierra Bertrand held Rider without a hit through the third and fourth innings as the Broncs failed to advance a runner past first base. In the bottom of the fifth, Rider loaded the bases against Emily Johnston with one out on the board, but the Broncs' final two batters struck out swinging as Johnston preserved the shutout effort to start the doubleheader strong.

Game #2: Niagara 6, Rider 0

After Niagara went scoreless in the top of the first, Rider threatened to take an early lead with runners on first and third in the bottom of the inning, but Niagara's defense picked up a ground out to clear the inning scoreless. Starting pitcher Jennifer Szilagyi also batted eighth in the Niagara lineup, and she opened the second game's scoring with a double down the left field line. Sarah Trifoso brought Szilagyi home in the next at-bat with a single up the middle, and Chanelle Ward rounded out the inning with an RBI single to make it 3-0. Rider picked up just one hit in each of the third and fourth innings before going three up, three down in the bottom of the fifth against Szilagyi, as the Purple Eagles held the score at 3-0 heading into the sixth. Kendall Watkins led off the top of the sixth with a double, reaching home in the next at-bat with a single from Taylor Moody. With the bases loaded and two outs, Ward ripped a single through the middle of the Rider defense, scoring two runs to stretch the Niagara lead to 6-0. Niagara's defense picked up six straight outs as Rider went three up, three down in both the sixth and seventh innings, securing the shutout for Szilagyi and closing the day with a combined 16-0 run advantage over Rider.

The Purple Eagles are back at Niagara Softball Field for six games this week, starting with a doubleheader at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26 against the Akron Zips.

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