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NU softball starts 6-game road trip at Syracuse


The Niagara softball team went 4-2 in last week's competition, sweeping the Saint Peter's Peacocks at Niagara Softball Field and picking up splits against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the MAAC-leading Manhattan Jaspers.

The Purple Eagles kick off this week's six-game road trip against Syracuse University on Tuesday, April 18, taking on the Orange in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. After that, Niagara heads to New Jersey for MAAC doubleheaders against Monmouth and Rider.

Niagara is now 4-2 in its six games after a split with MAAC leader Manhattan on April 14. After a narrow 2-1 defeat in the first game against the Jaspers, Niagara took a 6-0 lead through four innings and held on against a late rally from Manhattan for a 7-5 win. Sarah Trifoso led the Purple Eagles (11-17, 3-5 MAAC) at the plate, going 4-for-6 on the day with one double, one triple, and three runs scored. Trifoso and Chanelle Ward both batted a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored in Niagara's 7-5 win. Jerri Ann Orfano batted 3-for-5 in the doubleheader with a team-high three RBI. Jennifer Szilagyi went five innings in the circle in the 2-1 loss, allowing only a pair of second-inning runs on five hits, striking out four batters. Emily Johnston pitched the final two innings, allowing two hits and picking up one strikeout. In Niagara's 7-5 win, Sierra Bertrand picked up her third consecutive victory to move to 7-5 on the season. She also picked up double-digit strikeouts for the third straight game, fanning a career-high 12 batters while allowing five runs on six hits.

After going 3-1 in MAAC play last week, the Purple Eagles now sit at ninth in the conference. As a team, the Purple Eagles are fifth in the conference in batting average (.270) and sixth in ERA (3.80).
The Purple Eagles have two of the MAAC's top five in batting average, with Bridget Hogan ranking second at .387 and Jerri Ann Orfano is fifth at .356. Hogan leads Niagara with 36 hits and 10 extra-base hits this season, totaling nine doubles and one triple. She also leads the Purple Eagles with a career-high .431 on-base percentage and .505 slugging percentage. Orfano has a team-best 16 RBI, while Sarah March and Kendall Watkins lead the Purple Eagles with 16 runs scored. In the circle, Sierra Bertrand is 7-5 with a 3.29 ERA and 89 strikeouts, while Jennifer Szilagyi is 3-8 with a 3.53 ERA and 21 strikeouts.

Syracuse hosts Niagara in its second doubleheader against a MAAC team this season. The Orange defeated Canisius by scores of 9-0 and 8-2 in a doubleheader on April 12. Last season, the Purple Eagles were swept at Syracuse with the Orange taking wins of 7-1 and 5-0. Sydney O'Hara is batting .485 for the Orange this season and leads the team with 18 extra-base hits, with seven doubles, three triples, and eight home runs. Syracuse has four other batters averaging over .300 in Bryce Holmgren (.363), Sammy Fernandez (.356), Alicia Hansen (.350) and Faith Cain (.314). O'Hara also leads Syracuse in the circle with a 1.98 ERA. She is 7-3 in 25 appearances with 106 strikeouts. Alexa Romero has a team-high 19 starts for Syracuse and is 10-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 116 strikeouts, while Anna Marie Gatti is 6-5 with a 3.54 ERA and 62 strikeouts.