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Youngstown sweeps NU softball


NIAGARA UNIV. -- The Purple Eagles softball team played the first two games of their 14-game home schedule on Wednesday afternoon, taking on the Youngstown State Penguins. Youngstown State took a 4-1 win in the first game of the afternoon, and Niagara led 2-1 heading into the seventh inning of the second game before the Penguins rallied to take a 3-2 victory at Niagara Softball Field.

Bridget Hogan, Jennifer Timm, Sarah Trifoso, and Kendall Watkins all had two hits in the doubleheader for Niagara (7-15, 0-4 MAAC). Hogan added a double and two RBI to her line for the afternoon, with Timm earning a double in the 3-2 loss as well.

Jennifer Szilagyi held Youngstown State to just seven hits in seven innings of total work, but went 0-2 in the circle on the day, allowing five earned runs. Emily Johnston pitched the final three innings of the first game, yielding one unearned run and fanning two batters. Sierra Bertrand started the second game and had nine strikeouts in four innings, allowing one earned run on three hits.

Game #1: Youngstown State 4, Niagara 1 

The Penguins took a quick 2-0 lead after one inning of play. Hannah Lucas opened the game with a leadoff single for Youngstown State before Niagara picked up two straight groundouts from Kendall Watkins at second base. With two outs on the board, Youngstown State got a two-run homer from Maria Lacatena to left field to open the scoring. After holding the Penguins scoreless in the top of the second, Niagara had a chance to get on the board with the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, but failed to convert. Sarah Trifoso picked up the lone hit of the inning after Taylor Moody reached on an error and stole second before Rachel Funk walked. Both sides went three up, three down in the third inning before Youngstown State's Maddi Lusk hit a solo home run to push the lead to 3-0. The Penguins carried that 3-0 lead to the top of the seventh inning, where Lucas picked up an RBI single to left field to make it a four-run lead. Niagara loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with three consecutive singles from Trifoso, Sarah March, and Chanelle Ward. Youngstown State threw Ward out on the next play, allowing one run to score and Bridget Hogan to reach on a fielder's choice. Youngstown State struck out Jerri Ann Orfano to close the game in a 4-1 Niagara loss.

Game #2: Youngstown State 3, Niagara 2

Sierra Bertrand started strong in the circle in game two, allowing a leadoff hit to Youngstown State before getting three batters to strike out swinging to end the inning. In the bottom of the first, it was Niagara who opened the scoring with a 1-0 lead. Jennifer Timm singled and made it to second on a throwing error before Bridget Hogan doubled to right center to put runners on second and third. With one out, Brianna Clark grounded out but brought Timm home to put the Purple Eagles ahead. Niagara's 1-0 lead held through three innings as Bertrand picked up five strikeouts in seven Youngstown State at-bats during the second and third innings. In the top of the fourth inning, Youngstown State leveled the score at 1-1 as Stevie Taylor tripled and brought a runner home from first base. Niagara would respond and take the one-run lead back in the bottom of the fifth. After Sarah March reached first on an error and Timm hit a double, Bridget Hogan singled through the right side of the Youngstown State defense to make it 2-1. Niagara's lead would hold heading into the final inning of play, but the Penguins' Brittney Moffatt picked up a game-winning, two-run double to left center in the top of the seventh inning. The Purple Eagles went three up, three down in the bottom of the seventh, falling 3-2 in the doubleheader finale.

Niagara hosts the Saint Peter's Peacocks and Manhattan Jaspers this weekend in the team's first two MAAC home doubleheaders this season. Niagara and Saint Peter's are slated to start at 12 p.m. on Saturday, and the Purple Eagles welcome the Jaspers on Sunday at 11 a.m.