(Posted May 8, 2010)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- The fourth-seeded Juniata College softball team kept its Landmark Conference title hopes alive in the elimination side of the bracket, with a 7-6 win over the no. 4 seed University of Scranton on Saturday morning at Moravian College's Blue & Grey Field in Bethlehem, Pa.

However Juniata's season came to an end in the next game with a 6-5 loss to second-seeded Susquehanna University in an eight-inning elimination game.

The Eagles wrapped up their 2010 campaign with a 20-16 record �¢?" the program's third straight 20-win season.

Juniata used a five-run fourth inning to take a 7-3 lead over Scranton in the day's first game, then hung on from there for the victory. The Eagles took advantage of six hits in the frame, including RBI singles by Allison Gerlach (Mesa, Ariz./Marcos de Niza) and Stacy Nagy (Millerton, Pa./Troy). Rachel Nagy (Nazareth, Pa./Nazareth) belted a two-run single, while Jen O'Neill (Sayville, N.Y./Sayville) blasted a run-scoring triple to deep center field.

Scranton came back with two runs in the sixth on pinch hitter Ashley Vosilla's two-run single up the middle. The Royals pulled to within one run of the Eagles, 7-6, on Mia Collarini's two-out base hit into left that allowed Kimberly Townsend to cross.

However with runners at first and second, Juniata starter Alyssa Erb (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg) struck out the Royals leadoff hitter Ashley Regan, clinching the win.

The strike out was one of Erb's seven on the day, as she allowed five earned runs on 14 hits and five walks on her way to the win. Scranton starter Sam Boccalini was chased in the fourth after surrendering seven runs on nine hits, but was tagged with the loss. Katherine Sansouci finished up for the Royals, fanning three Eagles while scattering three hits over three-and-a-third innings of work.

Amanda Gerlach (Mesa, Ariz./Marcos de Niza) led Juniata at the plate with a 3-for-4 effort, while Stacy Nagy, Rachel Nagy, and Allison Gerlach each had two hits. Rachel Nagy and Caley McCool (Spring Mills, Pa./Penns Valley) each drove in two runs.

Juniata appeared to have its follow-up elimination game under control, after a three-run home run by O'Neill in the top of the seventh put the Eagles in front of Susquehanna, 5-2.

Eckard opened the seventh with a single through the left side, and advanced to second on a Stacy Nagy sacrifice bunt. Rachel Nagy singled to short, moving Eckard to third, and eventually stole second - all setting the table for O'Neill's blast over the left field fence.

The home run was O'Neill's sixth of the season, setting a new Juniata single season home run record.

Erb struck out the first Susquehanna batter she faced, but the next two Crusaders reached on singles. A force at second on a grounder to short then put the Eagles one out away from advancing to the championship series against Moravian College.

However a wild pitch allowed one Susquehanna run to score, cutting the margin to 5-3, and a walk and a single loaded the bases for the Crusaders.

SU's Taylor Crawford drew the bases loaded walk to make the score 5-4, and Kate Reese's base hit to right field tied the game at 5-5 as Katie Connors crossed. The potential game winning run was thrown out at the plate, as right fielder Rachel Nagy made the quick throw to home off the singles cutting down the Crusaders' Kim Rubino as she tried to score.

Juniata got the go-ahead run aboard in the top of the eighth with a two-out Eckard single to third base, but could not advance her from there.

Susquehanna put the game away in the bottom of the eighth, on Kelli Holota's RBI single through the left side scoring Deanna Anderson. Anderson reached on a single off reliever Stacy Nagy to open the inning.

Nagy took the loss in her two-thirds of an inning appearance. Erb allowed five earned runs on 11 hits with two walks, recording just three strikeouts.

Susquehanna reliever Sarah Hoffman finished out the contest for the Crusaders, after starter Cara Swerdlow ran out of gas in the fifth inning. Swerdlow allowed two earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in the no-decision. Hoffman yielded three runs on six hits, and took credit for the win.

O'Neill wielded the big bat for the Eagles in game two, going 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs batted in. Eckard, Rachel Nagy, and Denalyn Spratt (Haddon Heights, N.J./Haddon Heights) each had two hits, while Spratt drove in a pair of runs.

Juniata will return nine of 15 letterwinners on this year's squad, but will graduate the program's all-time pitching wins and strikeouts leader in Erb, as well as three of Juniata softball's top all-time hitters in Eckard, Rachel Nagy, and Stacy Nagy.


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.