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Niagara softball drops two close games to Monmouth

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Niagara softball team came within one hit of knocking off the MAAC-leading Monmouth Hawks on Wednesday in Syracuse. After Monmouth opened the doubleheader with a 3-1 win, the Hawks needed extra innings to finish off the Purple Eagles, who loaded the bases in the eighth to put the visitors on their heels in the pouring rain.

Game 1: Monmouth 3, Niagara 1
  • Margaret Vesneske got aboard via error with one out in Niagara's half of the first. Heather Haberman followed her on by drawing a walk, and Kendall Watkins hit a short blooper between the first and second basemen to load the bases for the Purple Eagles. Another walk to Rachel Funk pushed the runners ahead and brought Vesneske home, giving Niagara the early 1-0 lead before the end of the inning.
  • Monmouth leveled the score in the top of the second with a solo home run to left-center field. With another runner at first, Haberman and Vesneske ended the inning by catching the runner stealing.
  • In the top of the third, Monmouth got its lead runner aboard, but a quick pop-up to Haberman behind the plate allowed her to double-up the Hawks by throwing out the runner at first before she could tag.
  • The Hawks took the lead on another one-run homer in the fourth inning, then went up 3-1 in the sixth after a runner on second scored on an infield single.
  • Karsen Cotton and Watkins accounted for both Niagara hits, while Funk's walk earned her an RBI.
  • Sierra Bertrand (7-12) gave up three runs on seven hits and four walks while ringing up six Monmouth hitters.
 
Game 2: Monmouth 2, Niagara 1 (8)
  • In the top of the second, Monmouth struck first with a two-out home run to center field.
  • Both defenses kept the opponents at bay for the next several innings, until Niagara made their move in the bottom of the fifth. Heather Haberman reached third base after a missed catch by the first baseman went up the right side of the field in foul territory. Two groundouts nearly ended Niagara's shot at tying the game, but Kelsey Harrigan singled to left field to bring Haberman in.
  • After a 1-2-3 seventh by the Hawks batters, Niagara nearly walked off without the extra inning. Haberman led off again, this time drawing a walk and taking second on a wild pitch. Erika Siegel bunted to the third baseman, allowing Haberman to get to third for her second straight appearance. A walk to Sarah Trifoso put runners on the corners, but Monmouth tightened back up and snuffed out a golden chance for the Purple Eagles.
  • In the top of the eighth, Monmouth used back-to-back doubles to score its go-ahead run.
  • In the bottom of the inning, the dramatics were in full force, as Kendall Watkins singled up the middle to start things offensively for Niagara. Two straight fielder's choices put two outs up for Niagara with a runner still at first when the sky opened up briefly for the third time of the day, forcing the umps to tell the teams to take a momentary retreat to their dugouts. After the rain subsided, Rachel Funk drew a walk and made way for Morgan Genovese to pinch run in her place. Haberman drew yet another walk to put Taylor Moody at third and Genovese at second, loading the bases for Niagara. With two outs, Siegel battled to a full count, then reeled off three straight foul balls before finally being retired to end the game.
 
Up Next
  • Niagara will close out the regular season with two conference doubleheaders on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6.
  • Saturday's doubleheader with Fairfield will feature a tribute to the 1998 MAAC Championship team that made the NCAA Tournament. An alumni brunch will be held at the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons at 10:30 a.m., followed by an on-field pregame ceremony with several members of the team. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m.
  • Sunday's set against Iona will be Niagara's Senior Day, celebrating the accomplishments of Brianna Clark, Taylor Moody, Erika Siegel and Sarah Trifoso. The four will be the focus of a pregame ceremony prior to the 11 a.m. first pitch.