Niagara Sweeps Rider
Niagara University 5, Rider University 1
Niagara University 9, Rider University 1 / 5 innings
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Doubleheader
LAWRENCEVILLE—The Rider University softball team lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader to Niagara University on Saturday afternoon.
Over 200 fans were in attendance at Herb and Joan Young Field as the team held a fundraiser in the bid to Strikeout Breast Cancer and raise awareness in the fight against the disease.
“It certainly isn’t the result on the scoreboard that we wanted but the day was a success,” said head coach Tricia Carroll. “We raised almost $500 for the cause, including the Niagara players pitching in $100 which was a class act. Seeing survivors battle and make it to participate in the day really puts the game in perspective. This was a day to play softball on a gorgeous afternoon and also celebrate life.”
Rider also celebrated Fan Appreciation and Alumni Day during the doubleheader with free food and soft drinks for all in attendance.
The proceeds of the day went to Sally Martinez, a former Rider cross country and track and field assistant coach from the mid 1990s who is battling cancer for the third time.
In the opener, Niagara pitcher Jennifer Sansano struck out 11 and worked 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before junior Kehli Washington (Lulea, Sweden/New Rochelle) blooped an RBI single to center field to cut the Purple Eagle lead to 5-1.
“Sansano no-hit Manhattan earlier in the season,” Carroll said. “I wasn’t surprised that she kept the hits down, but I wanted us to make an adjustment sooner than the last inning when we got the tying run to the plate on a few walks. If we were a little more patient, we could have gotten to her a little sooner and that may have resulted in a different outcome.”
Rider drew six walks in the game, three in the final inning to load the bases and setup Washington’s RBI single.
Washington had two hits on the day and her 139 career hits are tied for 25th best all-time at Rider.
Niagara, which left 13 runners on base, scored single runs in the first, second and fourth innings and plated two in the fifth inning.
Freshman Ali Meagher (Clark/Arthur L. Johnson) went the distance for Rider (8-38, 3-11 MAAC), recording a career-high six strikeouts.
“Ali did what we needed her to do,” said Carroll. “We didn’t give her enough run support in either game and that was disappointing. Niagara is a good hitting team and seeing a pitcher the sixth and seventh time during the day, they made an adjustment and really hit the ball at the end.”
In the nightcap, Ambur Farmer hit a double and a home run, knocking in three as Niagara won in five innings 9-1.
Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Rider got on the board with an RBI single from freshman Emily Cottrell (Beachwood/Toms River HS South), scoring sophomore Allysen Breeden (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) who doubled.
Cottrell had two of Rider’s six hits in game two.
“We hit the ball hard but right at Niagara,” Carroll added about game two.
Niagara used Farmer’s RBI double in the third inning to open up a 5-1 lead and the Purple Eagles scored two unearned runs in the fourth inning and had an RBI single and RBI ground-rule double in the fifth inning for the final score.
Meagher threw all five innings for Rider, recording two strikeouts.
“This group is fun to coach,” said Carroll. “They continue to work hard and are trying to get better each day and that’s all I can ask.”
Niagara (13-25, 8-6 MAAC) has won six straight games.
Last season, the Purple Eagles took the Broncs out of playoff contention on the last conference weekend with a pair of 12 innings games, defeating Rider 1-0 and 5-4.
The Purple Eagles have won 21 of the 36 games in the series, including the last eight in a row.
In 2011, Niagara won 12-0 and 12-4 in Lawrenceville. Niagara blanked Rider twice in 2010 (8-0, 12-0). The teams split in Lawrenceville in 2009 with Niagara winning 5-1 in the opener and Rider 3-1 in the nightcap.
Rider travels to La Salle for a non-conference game on Wednesday and the Broncs wrap up the 2013 season with a MAAC doubleheader against Fairfield on May 4 at 1pm.