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NU softball swept by Marist


NIAGARA UNIV. -- The Purple Eagles softball team dropped a defensive battle 2-1 in the first game of Friday afternoon's doubleheader against the Marist Red Foxes. After taking a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, a series of defensive miscues against Marist in the top of the seventh led to a 7-3 Red Foxes win to close the day at Niagara Softball Field.

Kendall Watkins led the Purple Eagles (15-23, 6-8 MAAC) at the plate with a 3-for-6 effort including a double and two RBI. Jerri Ann Orfano and Sarah March both batted 2-for-7 with a double.

Sierra Bertrand totaled eight strikeouts in eight innings of work, pitching the complete first game and the final inning of the second. Jennifer Szilagyi started game two and allowed two runs (one earned) on 10 hits while fanning four batters.

Game #1: Marist 2, Niagara 1

Both the Purple Eagles and Red Foxes managed just one hit each through two scoreless innings as the starting pitchers, Marist's Jayne Oberdorf and Niagara's Sierra Bertrand, controlled the early play.
Marist loaded the bases in the top of the third with two singles before another batter was hit by a pitch from Bertrand. With one out on the board, Bertrand walked a run home before striking out the next two batters. Sarah Trifoso singled in the bottom of the third, but Marist held the 1-0 lead after three full innings. Oberdorf held the Purple Eagles without a hit through the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. Niagara allowed three hits to the Red Foxes in that time, but the defense held strong and Szilagyi fanned two batters to keep the score at 1-0. In the top of the seventh, Marist leadoff batter Casey Page reached first on a Niagara error, eventually advancing to third on a pair of ground outs. A single to left field by Rebecca Freeman put Marist up 2-0 headed to the bottom of the seventh. Looking to tie the game, Jerri Ann Orfano led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to the right field gap. Kendall Watkins followed up with a single to center field to bring pinch runner Alexandra Moore, but that was all the Niagara offense would produce as Marist held on for the 2-1 win.

Game #2: Marist 7, Niagara 3

The Red Foxes picked up three singles to lead off the second game, but were held scoreless in the inning as Niagara forced two pop outs and pitcher Jennifer Szilagyi threw one runner out at home.
Chanelle Ward and Bridget Hogan picked up singles in the first inning as well for Niagara, but the inning closed still scoreless. After Niagara picked up two outs to lead off the top of the third, Marist picked up two straight singles before Kourtney Paul's double to left center field opened the scoring for the Red Foxes. The Purple Eagles went three up, three down as Marist again held the 1-0 lead after three full innings. Marist doubled its lead in the top of the fourth inning, but Niagara made it a 2-1 game in the bottom of the fourth as Jennifer Timm singled through the right side to score Kendall Watkins from third. The Red Foxes went three up, three down against Szilagyi and the Niagara defense in the top of the fifth, and the Purple Eagles tied the game in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double to left center from Watkins. Szilagyi struck out two batters before walking one in the top of the sixth, and the final Marist batter of the inning popped out to bring Niagara back up to bat. With two outs and a runner on second, Sarah March ripped a base hit down the right field line and scored pinch runner Alexandra Moore from second to give Niagara its first lead of the day at 3-2. Niagara brought Sierra Bertrand in to close out in the seventh inning, but a series of defensive errors put Marist back on top. The defense put the Red Foxes' first two batters out, but after a walk, two straight errors at first base put the tying run across the plate for Marist, and the visitors took the lead on a single that narrowly escaped the infield. Another infield single loaded the bases for Marist, and a fielding error by Niagara brought all three runners home to make it 7-3. Niagara loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with singles from Jerri Ann Orfano, Kendall Watkins, and Taylor Moody, but Marist reliever Kallen Leeseberg picked up two straight strikeouts to end the game in a 7-3 Marist win.

Niagara will continue the weekend's MAAC play with a 12 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday against the Quinnipiac Bobcats.