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Juniata softball clinches Landmark tourney berth with sweep of Merchant Marine

(Posted April 19, 2009)

KINGS POINT, N.Y. -- Juniata College softball punched its post-ticket for the first time since 2004 with a doubleheader sweep of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Sunday afternoon in Kings Point, N.Y. The Eagles won the first game 7-2, and completed the sweep with a 13-4 victory in the five-inning second game.

Senior Liz Schmitt (Knoxville, Tenn./H. Frank Carey, N.Y.) had a career day for the Eagles, as she had five hits - including a pair of home runs - with six runs scored and eight runs batted in.

In the first game, Juniata (19-9, 6-4 Landmark) rebounded from a 2-1 deficit after four innings with a five-run outburst in the fifth inning. Schmitt keyed the inning with a grand slam home run, one of only two hits in the frame. Jackie Morley (North Wales, Pa./Archbishop Wood) had a single through the left side to lead off the inning.

The Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the seveth, with Schmitt getting aboard on a one-out single to center field and scoring on a dropped fly ball in right field off the bat of Caley McCool (Spring Mills, Pa./Penns Valley).

Eagle starter Alyssa Erb (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg) kept the Mariners in check by tossing a four-hitter in the complete game win, fanning 10 Mariners in the process, and improving her ledger to 11-6. Merchant Marine starter Jess LaValley yielded seven runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts, but only one of the seven runs allowed was earned.

Juniata jumped on Merchant Marine right from the start of game two, scoring four runs in the first inning on a pair of hits and two Mariner errors. Sarah Eckard (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg) and Schmitt had singles for the Eagles in the first, and with two walks and an RBI hit-by-pitch to Morley advancing the runners.

Schmitt belted a solo home run, her second of the game and fourth of the season, to open the fourth inning, and Pam Heinrichs (Spring Mills, Pa./Penns Valley) singled home a run later in the frame.

Juniata tacked on four runs in the fourth, with three runs scoring on Melissa Moffat's (Oceanside, Calif./Oceanside) three-run homer to left field, and added three more in the top of the fifth to take a 13-1 lead. Schmitt's double to left field plated a pair of runs, and she crossed later in the fifth on Morley's grounder back to the pitcher which was mishandled for an error.

Merchant Marine (16-14, 3-7 Landmark) tacked on three runs in the bottom of the fifth on three hits and two Juniata errors, but the Eagles finally closed out the inning to take the win under the "eight-run rule".

Heinrichs scattered nine hits and allowed three earned runs in her five complete innings of work, and improved her record to 7-2. Karen Taylor took the loss for the Mariners, allowed 13 runs on 14 hits.

Juniata will travel to Altoona, Pa., on Tuesday to face Penn State-Altoona in a doubleheader starting at 3:30 p.m.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.