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JUNIATA SOFBTALL CLINCHES POSTSEASON SPOT

(Posted April 24, 2004)

Amber Helsel delivered a two-run single in the seventh inning to help Juniata to a 5-2 win in game two of the team\'s doubleheader against Susquehanna. The win clinched a spot in the conference postseason for Juniata.

Susquehanna 3, Juniata 2 (10 innings)
Juniata 5, Susquehanna 2

Selinsgrove, Pa. - The Juniata College softball team rebounded from a devastating opening game loss in ten innings by clinching the team's second-consecutive postseason berth on the strength of a 5-3 victory in the second game of the team's doubleheader against Susquehanna in Selinsgrove on Saturday.

The Eagles finish the season with a 7-7 record in conference, which tied them with both Lebanon Valley and Susquehanna in the standings behind conference leader Moravian. Juniata will be the four seed in the conference postseason which begins Friday at Lebanon Valley. The Eagles are fourth based on a series of tie-breakers. Susquehanna captured the third seed for the conference tourney.

After dropping game one in 10 innings, the Eagles responded in game two. Trailing 1-0 after Susquehanna's Melissa Bird drove in a run in the bottom of the third, the Eagles came back in the top of the fourth on a two-run single from Casandra Dutzer (Danville/Riverside).

The home team moved ahead again in the bottom of the fourth as Kristin Boccafola tripled then scored on an error.

Then with the team's postseason hopes fading, Juniata scored three runs in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach. Dutzer led off with a single, then moved to third on a double by Abby Sener (Donegal/Marietta). Jen Piston (Central Bucks East/Jamison) walked to load the bases, then after one out was recorded Amber Helsel (Claysburg-Kimmel/Claysburg) singled to bring in a pair of runs. Becky Herr (Hamburg/Hamburg) followed with another single to plate Piston and Juniata was on top 5-3.

Sophomore Lizzie Bartosik (Penn/Granger, In.) went the distance for Juniata, scattering 10 hits and allowing just two earned runs. She fanned one in securing the victory.

Dutzer paced the Eagles with her 2-for-3 performance. Juniata had just five hits in the game, with four of them coming in the decisive seventh inning.

Jess Nastelli was charged with the loss for the Crusaders as she allowed four runs in six-plus innings. Boccafola and Bird were each 2-for-3 for Susquehanna in a losing effort.

Offense was even scarcer in game one as Eagle hurler Renae Hobbs (Mount Union/Mount Union) matched a pair of Crusaders pitchers over 10 innings.

Juniata gave Hobbs a lead as the offense broke through with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Sener delivered a two-run two-out single to put the Eagles on top in the fourth.

Susquehanna answered by scoring single runs in the fourth and the fifth to tie the game.

Then in the bottom of the tenth, a squeeze bunt from Heather Thomas scored Sarah Shaffer to give the Crusaders the 3-2 victory.

Hobbs pitched all nine and one-third innings for Juniata, allowing just three hits and striking out four batters. No loss was credited to an individual Juniata pitcher because the run scored as result of the international tiebreaker, in which the last batter of the previous inning is placed on second base to start all innings beginning with the 10th.

Kelly McHale pitched five and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief to earn the win for Susquehanna.

As the number four seed, Juniata will open the conference tournament against top seed Moravian, who posted a 14-0 record during the conference season.

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