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Saturday, April 22, 2017

NU softball splits doubleheader with Monmouth

All WNY News     Saturday, April 22, 2017    



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WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Niagara Purple Eagles softball team headed to Monmouth Saturday afternoon looking to gain momentum approaching the midway point of the conference schedule. After a 6-2 loss to open the day, Kendall Watkins went 3-for-3 at the plate with a home run and four RBI to lead Niagara to a 6-3 win in the second game of the doubleheader.

Jennifer Szilagyi pitched her second complete game of the season in the win for Niagara (13-19, 4-6 MAAC). The Purple Eagles have now taken at least one win in five straight doubleheaders heading into Sunday's two-game matchup at Rider.

Game #1: Monmouth 6, Niagara 2

The Hawks took a 1-0 lead through two innings, holding Niagara to one hit in that time. Sarah Trifoso sent her first triple of the season down the right field line in the top of the third to get in scoring position, but the Purple Eagles could not drive in the tying run. Monmouth doubled its lead in the bottom of the fourth, and scored twice on three hits in the fifth inning to take a 4-0 lead over the Purple Eagles. Niagara got on the board in the top of the sixth, cutting the deficit in half to 4-2. Bridget Hogan started things off with a leadoff single, but Monmouth followed that up with two straight outs. After Maria Gabriele walked, Taylor Moody singled to left field to load the bases, and Rachel Funk sent a two-run shot to the right field gap to bring Hogan and Gabriele home. Monmouth picked up another run on two doubles from its first three batters in the bottom of the sixth before Niagara brought Jennifer Szilagyi into the circle to replace starter Sierra Bertrand. The Hawks picked up another run on Szilagyi, taking a 6-2 lead to the final inning. A single from Bridget Hogan was the only hit Niagara would find in the top of the seventh as Monmouth opened the day's action with a win. Bertrand went 5.1 innings in the circle as Monmouth snapped the sophomore's four-game winning streak. She allowed six earned runs on nine hits, striking out two batters.

Game #2: Niagara 6, Monmouth 3

Monmouth put out Niagara's first two batters to start game two, but the Purple Eagles' bats prevailed and picked up three runs before the Hawks got the final out. After Bridget Hogan reached first on a Monmouth throwing error and took second on a wild pitch, Jerri Ann Orfano drove Hogan home with a single up the middle. Orfano was followed by Kendall Watkins, who sent a two-run home run over the left field wall to make it 3-0 Niagara. Monmouth would respond in the bottom of the first, picking up two runs on three hits and two walks against pitcher Jennifer Szilagyi. In the top of the third, it was Watkins who picked up her third RBI of the game to extend Niagara's lead to 4-2 after Chanelle Ward led off the inning with a double to right center field. Szilagyi held Monmouth to just one hit in both the fourth and fifth innings, preserving the two-run lead for Niagara. Taylor Moody scored a run in the top of the sixth to extend Niagara's lead to three, but Monmouth singled with runners on first and third in the bottom of the sixth to make it 5-3 entering the final inning of the doubleheader. After Ward popped out to lead off the seventh, Bridget Hogan gave Niagara a runner in scoring position with a double to right center field. Hogan came home on a single up the middle from Watkins, padding Niagara's lead. Monmouth's lineup went three up, three down against Szilagyi and the Niagara defense in the bottom of the seventh, ending the day in a 6-3 Niagara victory.

Now 2-2 on this week's six-game road trip, the Purple Eagles play a 12 p.m. doubleheader at Rider on Sunday, April 23 before returning for six straight games at Niagara Softball Field.

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