Golden Eagle softball sweeps UPJ

CLARION For the first time in seven years, the Golden Eagle softball team swept both ends of a conference doubleheader, with Clarion claiming 4-1 and 9-2 victories over Pitt-Johnstown at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The Golden Eagles (6-10, 4-8 PSAC West) led at the end of every full inning against the Mountain Cats, capping an impressive three-game win streak against UPJ.

With the victories on Tuesday, Clarion swept a conference opponent in a doubleheader for the first time since taking a pair from Slippery Rock on April 19, 2014. It also marked another milestone in recent history, representing the first time Clarion has beaten a conference opponent three times in one year since taking three of four from The Rock and Edinboro during the 2004 season.

The Golden Eagle pitching staff led the day on Tuesday, allowing just three runs combined in the two games. That led to a brisk 77-minute game to start the doubleheader as Laura Sadowski (1-1) rebounded from a slow start to mostly cut through the Mountain Cat lineup. The nightcap saw Chelsea Liroff (2-1) navigate through the occasional rough patch while still posting zeroes in her four innings, with Megan Anderson came on board for the last three to post the save.

The defense also provided a number of game-changing plays to alter the momentum of the contest. Clarion induced three ground ball double plays over the two games, including one in the top of the first in game one that halted early momentum for the Mountain Cats. Another big play came in the second inning when Carissa Giordano gunned down Bree Ginther at home plate, with the latter attempting to score on a sacrifice fly. Instead of seeing their 5-1 lead cut into, the Golden Eagles escaped the inning, and two batters later Jessica Cartia smacked her third home run of the season to complete the swing.

In the first game, Clarion got all the offense they would need indeed, all the offense with which they would end up in the first two innings, getting to starter Kristen Coffay early. Makenzie Wolfe drove in Giordano on a groundout to third base after the latter led off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a grounder by Brooke Cline. More runs came in the bottom of the second after the first three Golden Eagles reached base on Coffay. Nicole Collins brought two of them home, driving a liner into center field to score Rebecca Kelley and Hannah Norton, and Cline scored Beka McClymonds with a single to make it 4-0.

Sadowski responded by putting zero after zero on the board, with her only blemish coming in the top of the seventh inning. Tori Radvan hit a two-out double to score Laura Fox and cut the lead to 4-1, but Sadowski retired Olivia Porter on a sharp grounder to third base to clinch the win.

Conversely, the Golden Eagles scored at least one run in each of the first five innings of the late game, building a 9-2 lead and nearly clinching the game on the eight-run rule twice. Giordano and Norton were nearly impossible to retire at the plate in the late game, with Giordano going 3-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored. Norton, who is 10-for-20 (.500) in her last six games, increased her batting average to .406 with a 3-for-4 performance in the nightcap.

The bottom of the first inning was anything but traditional, as Giordano stole home to tie the game at 1-1. Cline had an opportunity to score on a sacrifice fly but tripped on her way off the bag, forcing her to return to third, while Beka McClymonds got caught leaning at second base and was thrown out by the catcher on the same play. Kelley responded with a two-out single to bring Cline in from third, and Liroff aided her own cause when she reached on an infield single and Kelley came around to make it 3-1.

Cartia notched the first of her two RBIs in the late game when she drove a single to center field to score Giordano in the second, and Brooke McCanna looped an opposite field RBI single in the third to put Clarion ahead 5-1. The Mountain Cats threatened in the top of the fourth after Ginther hit a one-out double, followed by a walk for Lauren Gohacki. Liroff hit Maddie Flowers with a pitch to load the bases with one out, and it looked as if Pitt-Johnstown would score when Fox hit a fly ball to shallow center field. Giordano gloved the ball for one out and then fired to McCanna at home plate, who applied the tag to Ginther for the third out of the inning.

Two batters later, Cartia smacked a ball over the left field wall for a solo home run, putting the Golden Eagles ahead 6-1. They added more runs in the bottom of the fifth, including a two-run triple from Kelley to make it 9-2. Anderson kept it at that deficit the rest of the way, shutting out the Mountain Cats in the sixth and seventh innings for the save.

TENNIS

California, Pa. 7, Clarion 0

CALIFORNIA, Pa. The Golden Eagle tennis team pushed Cal U to the limit on Saturday afternoon (April 3), but Clarion was unable to topple the Vulcans in falling by a 7-0 score on the road. Clarion (0-3, 0-3 PSAC West) kept the match closer than the score would indicate with a number of close singles matches, but came up just short in the upset bid.

The top of the Golden Eagle lineup gave the Vulcans a run for their money during the singles session, with Alexis Strouse and Kali Aughenbaugh coming tantalizingly close to win in their respective matches. Aughenbaugh took the first set of the No. 2 singles match against Fallon Winseck, but Winseck got the better of her in the second to force a full third set. The two battled in the final set, with Winseck, taking it by a 6-2 score.

Meanwhile, in the No. 1 singles match, Strouse and Laura Vargas engaged in a back-and-forth clash. Strouse rallied from a one-set deficit, winning a 7-4 tiebreaker in the second set to tie the match at one set apiece. Vargas was able to hold her off from there, though, winning the third set by a 10-3 score.

Close matches were more or less the rule through the rest of the lineup. Savannah Buttery fell in a pair of tight sets to Kylie Feltenberger, dropping a 6-4, 6-4 decision at No. 5 singles, while Hannah Schettler fell 6-3, 6-3 to Charlie Gallagher at No. 3 singles.

Indiana, Pa. 6, Clarion 1

CLARION The Golden Eagle tennis team returned to PSAC West action at home on Tuesday (March 30), with Clarion falling by a 6-1 score to IUP at Campbell Courts. The match, originally slated to be contested in Indiana on March 31, is currently the last home match for Clarion (0-2, 0-2 PSAC West) until April 14.

The Crimson Hawks maintained firm control over the match, with IUP sweeping the doubles session and five of the six singles matches contested on Tuesday. Clarion's point came in the No. 5 singles match, which Savannah Buttery won after Abby Jones was unable to compete due to illness.

IUP started the day by winning both doubles matches on the court, giving them the first point of the team match. Kali Aughenbaugh, who earned an impressive straight-sets victory against Seton Hill on Saturday, was the closest to winning, but fell to reigning PSAC West Player of the Week Katy Graydon.