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NU softball hits to 7-5 win over Manhattan


NIAGARA UNIV. -- The Purple Eagles softball team played two tightly-contested games at Niagara Softball Field against the MAAC's first-ranked team, the Manhattan Jaspers, on Friday afternoon. After dropping a 2-1 decision in the first game of the day, the Purple Eagles' bats got started early in game two, as the team scored three times in the first inning and never trailed in a 7-5 victory.

Sarah Trifoso led the Purple Eagles (11-17, 3-5 MAAC) at the plate, going 4-for-6 on the day with one double, one triple, and three runs scored. Trifoso and Chanelle Ward both batted a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored in Niagara's 7-5 win. Jerri Ann Orfano batted 3-for-5 in the doubleheader with a team-high three RBI.

Game #1: Manhattan 2, Niagara 1

Both teams went scoreless in the first inning, as pitcher Jennifer Szilagyi held Manhattan hitless before the top of Niagara's lineup went three up, three down. With two outs in the top of the second inning, Manhattan got three straight hits that resulted in two runs on the board before a strikeout from Szilagyi closed the inning. The Purple Eagles led off the bottom of the second with singles from Kendall Watkins and Maria Gabriele. Jerri Ann Orfano then split the Manhattan defense with a single up the middle of the infield, bringing Watkins home to make it 2-1. After Manhattan went three up, three down in the top of the third, Niagara put runners on first and third in the bottom of the third inning but were unable to capitalize and tie the game. Niagara was held without a hit in the fourth inning. Sarah Trifoso led off the bottom of the fifth with a double and made it to third on a bunt from Chanelle Ward, but again the Purple Eagles could not bring the tying run home. Orfano singled for Niagara's only hit of the sixth inning, and after holding Manhattan off the board in the top of the seventh, the Purple Eagles were unable to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Szilagyi went five innings in the circle and gave up only the two second-innings runs on five hits, striking out four batters. Emily Johnston pitched the final two innings, allowing two hits and picking up one strikeout.

Game #2: Niagara 7, Manhattan 5

Niagara held Manhattan without a hit in the top of the first inning before taking a 3-0 lead in the bottom. Kendall Watkins brought Chanelle Ward home from second with a single up the middle to open the scoring, before Jerri Ann Orfano launched a double to right center field, bringing Watkins and Bridget Hogan home. Following a scoreless second inning, Maria Gabriele's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third scored Ward home before Ward and Sarah March tallied RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth inning, doubling the Purple Eagles' lead to 6-0. Starter Sierra Bertrand threw seven strikeouts in four shutout innings to start the game before Manhattan got on the board, picking up two runs in the top of the fifth off of a bases-loaded single down the middle of the Niagara infield. After Manhattan picked up a solo home run in the top of the sixth, Trifoso picked up a triple deep in the right field gap, later scoring on a single from Hogan to make it 7-3 heading into the final inning. The Jaspers led off the top of the seventh with a walk and a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Manhattan cut the Niagara lead in half with two runs to make it 7-5, but Bertrand picked up a ground out before Sarah Trifoso caught a fly ball in center field to seal the win. In the circle, Bertrand picked up her third consecutive win to move to 7-5 on the season. She also picked up double-digit strikeouts for the third straight game, fanning a career-high 12 batters while allowing five runs on six hits.

Niagara softball looks ahead to a six-game road trip next week, starting on Tuesday with a 3 p.m. doubleheader against Syracuse University. The Purple Eagles then head to New Jersey for MAAC doubleheaders against Monmouth and Rider on April 22 and 23.

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