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Purple Eagles softball ties season-high for hits in losing effort at Fairfield


FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Niagara softball team wrapped up its first road trip of MAAC play against the Fairfield Stags on Sunday afternoon. The Purple Eagles tied a season-high with 12 hits in their first game of the day but left 11 runners on base in an 8-3 loss. Pitchers Jennifer Szilagyi and Emily Johnston held Fairfield to just two runs in the second game of the day, but the Purple Eagles' offense was held in check in a 2-0 loss to close the afternoon.

GAME #1: Fairfield 8, Niagara 3

The Purple Eagles tallied 12 hits in a game for the third time this season in the doubleheader opener at Fairfield, as seniors Chanelle Ward (3-for-3) and Sarah March (2-for-4) and redshirt junior Bridget Hogan (2-for-3) led Niagara at the plate. Niagara took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as March led off the game with a single up the middle of the Fairfield defense, later advancing to third following a single from Bridget Hogan. With one out in the inning, March reached home as Jerri Ann Orfano was thrown out at first. Fairfield outscored Niagara 7-0 over the next three innings to take a 7-1 lead after four, outhitting Niagara 8-2 in that stretch.

After March doubled and Ward singled to kick off the top of the fifth inning, March scored her second run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Hogan to make it a 7-2 game. Niagara turned to Jennifer Szilagyi in the circle over Sierra Bertrand to start the bottom of the fifth, but the Stags would pick up an RBI single to reestablish their six-run lead at 8-2. Ward and Hogan opened the top of the seventh inning with a pair of singles before Fairfield got two outs against Niagara. Another single from Kendall Watkins loaded the bases before Taylor Moody's base hit to left field brought pinch runner Alexis Gibson home for Niagara. With the bases again loaded, Fairfield picked up the final out to clinch the 8-3 win. Bertrand picked up three strikeouts in four innings, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits. Szilagyi allowed one run on four hits in two innings of relief.

GAME #2: Fairfield 2, Niagara 0

After closing out the first game of the day, Jennifer Szilagyi picked up the start in game two against Fairfield, a low-scoring duel between pitchers. Fairfield closed out the top of the first holding Niagara scoreless after the Purple Eagles got runners on first and second. The Purple Eagles got two outs in the bottom of the first, but the Stags picked up a pair of RBI singles before the inning closed with Niagara trailing 2-0. The Stags loaded the bases in the bottom of the second with two outs, but Bridget Hogan picked up the final out to keep it 2-0 after two full innings.

Both teams went three up, three down in the third inning. Niagara got singles from Jerri Ann Orfano and Kendall Watkins to put runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth, but could not drive a run home. Szilagyi and the Niagara defense held Fairfield hitless again in the bottom of the fourth inning. Both teams combined for just one hit the rest of the way, a single for Fairfield in the bottom of the sixth, as the Stags closed out the day with the 2-0 win. Emily Johnston closed the game for Niagara in the circle and did not allow a hit in the final two innings, striking out one batter. Szilagyi gave up just the two first-inning runs on six hits in four innings of work.

The Purple Eagles open their 2017 home schedule with a doubleheader against the Youngstown State Penguins starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.