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Thursday, April 13, 2017

NU softball hosts MAAC leader Manhattan

All WNY News     Thursday, April 13, 2017    

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The Purple Eagles softball team continued this week's action Wednesday afternoon at St. Bonaventure, earning a 5-2 win in the doubleheader's second game to earn the road split and a 3-1 advantage in the season series with the Bonnies. On Friday, the team returns to Niagara Softball Field to take on the Manhattan Jaspers. The doubleheader, which was rescheduled from Sunday, April 9, will start at 10 a.m.

Niagara was defeated 12-8 in the first of two games at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday before coming back with a 5-2 win to wrap up the season series. Maria Gabriele was 2-for-4 with three RBI to lead Niagara in the first game of the day, and Bridget Hogan and Taylor Moody were both 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Trailing 8-2 after three innings in the first game, Niagara got four runs in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to two. Rachel Funk led off the inning's scoring with an RBI double, later reaching home on a fielding error by the Bonnies. The Purple Eagles picked up two RBI single from Jerri Ann Orfano and Maria Gabriele. St. Bonaventure outscored Niagara 4-0 over the next two innings to take a 12-6 lead, but two runs were all Niagara could get in the top of the seventh, falling 12-8 to start the day. The Bonnies got on the board first in the second game of the doubleheader with a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the second inning. Niagara held St. Bonaventure off the board in the bottom of the third with pitcher Sierra Bertrand striking out two batters. In the top of the fourth, Niagara took the lead for good, making it 2-1 off a bases-loaded fielder's choice play before Jennifer Szilagyi drove in two runs off a single to center field. Niagara got a two-run double from Jennifer Timm in the top of the fifth, and Bertrand closed the game with 10 strikeouts for the 5-2 victory.

Niagara is 3-1 this week heading into Friday's Manhattan series, sweeping Saint Peter's at Niagara Softball Field on April 10 before the split at St. Bonaventure Wednesday. After a 6-for-7 effort in the Wednesday doubleheader, Bridget Hogan leads Niagara and has career-high marks in batting average (.391), on-base percentage (.432), and slugging percentage (.506). Her .391 batting average is tied for second in the MAAC. Hogan's nine extra-base hits (eight doubles, one triple) lead the Purple Eagles, followed by Sarah March's seven (five doubles, one triple, one home run). March also leads Niagara with 16 runs scored. Jerri Ann Orfano is second on Niagara and eighth in the MAAC with a .338 batting average after batting .218 in her freshman campaign a year ago. She is tied with Kendall Watkins with a team-high two home runs this season. In the circle, Sierra Bertrand leads Niagara pitchers with a 3.32 ERA, six wins, six complete games, 77 strikeouts, and an opposing batting average of .232. Among all MAAC pitchers, Bertrand is third in strikeouts and fifth in opposing batting average. Jennifer Szilagyi holds a 3.59 ERA in the circle and leads all Niagara pitchers with 17 appearances in the team's 26 games this season. She threw a career-high five strikeouts against Saint Peter's on Monday.

A five-game winning streak has the Jaspers in first place in the MAAC heading into Friday's doubleheader at Niagara. Manhattan pitchers have combined for the MAAC's best team ERA at 2.26. Pitcher Nicole Williams threw a no-hitter Wednesday against Saint Peter's. Williams (first, 1.08), Briana Matazinsky (third, 2.05) and Stephanie Kristo (seventh, 2.80) hold three of the top 10 spots in the MAAC for individual ERA. Williams leads Manhattan with 54 strikeouts and ranks first in the MAAC with 8.34 strikeouts per seven innings. Matazinsky is 11-3 in a team-high 15 starts, while both have three shutouts this year. Three Jaspers are batting .300 or better this season, led by Lauren Pitney at .312. Shannon Puthe leads the MAAC with seven triples, adding four doubles for a Jaspers-high 11 extra-base hits. Victoria Ross leads Manhattan with four home runs and 22 RBI.

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