Golden Eagles garner split with UPJ

Clarion University sports roundup

SOFTBALL

Clarion rebounds from one-run loss with 14-1 win over Pitt-Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN The Golden Eagle softball team snapped a modest losing streak with an offensive outburst on Saturday (March 27), splitting a pair of contests at Pitt-Johnstown. Clarion (4-10, 2-8 PSAC West) dropped a 6-5 nail-biter in Game 1 before exploding for a 14-1 six-inning rout in Game 2.

Clarion's ability to score runs in bunches has been its hallmark all season long, and that again proved to be the case on Saturday, as all 19 of Clarion's runs came over the course of the last 10 innings of the day. The Golden Eagles' five runs in the first game all came in the top of the fourth inning, nearly erasing a 6-0 lead for the Mountain Cats and trimming it to just one run. They weren't able to tally another run the rest of the way in dropping the early game, but they more than made up for it with a firework show in the second. Clarion scored three or more runs in three of their six offensive innings in the nightcap, including a six-run sixth inning that iced the contest early.

Brooke Cline had a huge day at the plate, going 1-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored in the first game, and following with a 3-for-4, four RBI performance in the second game. She smacked her team-leading third triple of the season in the top of the sixth inning to clear the bases, driving in three runs and setting the lead to double digits. Rebecca Kelley went a combined 5-for-9 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.

The Mountain Cats struck first in both contests, starting with an RBI walk drawn in the top of the second inning in Game 1. They jumped on Kelley (1-4) for five runs in the third inning, though Chelsea Liroff entered and kept their bats silent the rest of the way. Clarion responded with a five-run inning of their own in the fourth, starting with an RBI single from Hannah Norton. Liroff roped a double to center field to Kelley, and Beka McClymonds drove in Nicole Collins on an infield single to make it 6-3. Cline followed with an opposite-field single to right, plating McClymonds and Liroff to cut the lead to 6-5.

Liroff kept things tight, and in fact did not allow a Pitt-Johnstown runner to advance past first base over the final three innings of action. Clarion had the opportunity to pull even in the top of the sixth after McClymonds smacked a single to right center to put runners at first and second with one out. Carissa Giordano advanced the runners to second and third on a bunt attempt, but Cline grounded out to third to end the threat. Kelley hit a two-out double in the top of the seventh to again threaten, but Norton popped out to end the game at 6-5.

Pitt-Johnstown took a 1-0 lead in Game 2 after Olivia Porter's leadoff triple led to a run on an infield error, but Megan Anderson (1-3) kept the scorecard clean for the remainder of the game as she shut down the Mountain Cat offense. The last best attempt for Pitt-Johnstown to get back into the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning when the first two batters reached. Porter hit a two-out single through the left side to put runners on second and third, but Anderson induced a groundout to end the inning. The sophomore threw six innings, allowing one run on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks.

Meanwhile, offensively, the Golden Eagles got it started by taking the lead in the second inning. Brooke McCanna got the ball rolling with a two-run double to left-center to score Collins and Norton, and later scored herself when Giordano reached on an error, making it 3-1. Giordano added RBIs in the fourth and fifth innings, including a sacrifice fly in the former and an infield single in the latter. Kelley added a two-run homer to score herself and Jessica Cartia in the fourth, making it 6-1, and Cline drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 8-1.

Norton officially put the Golden Eagles within reach of ending the game early in the top of the sixth, bringing home Alyssa Stitt when she reached on an error by the shortstop. McCanna brought Kelley home in a similar fashion, and Cline cleared the bases with an opposite-field triple down the right field line to make it 13-1. Cartia followed with an RBI infield single to score Cline, setting the final deficit at 14-1.

TRACK AND FIELD

Golden Eagles open season at Elliston Earlybird Open

LOCK HAVEN The Golden Eagle track & field team opened up their 2020-21 season at Lock Haven on Saturday (March 27), immediately jumping into the swing of things at the Elliston Earlybird Open.

The Clarion throwers picked up right where they left off the last time there was an outdoor season in which to throw, recording some of the best results of the day for the Golden Eagles. Shelly Jones tied for the best individual finish for a Golden Eagle athlete at the meet with her second-place performance in the Shot Put. She tossed the implement 12.04m, behind only Shippensburg's Kate Mastrisciano. Emma Pesicka also recorded a top-8 finish in the Shot Put, recording a mark of 11.24m.

Madison Brooks authored a strong performance in the Discus, hurling the implement 36.49m for a fourth-place finish. Jones took seventh in the event with a toss of 32.58m. Freshman Autumn Pettinato got in on the fun in the field as well, placing third in the Javelin with a toss of 34.14m. Pettinato also competed in the 3000m, taking 11th with a time of 12:01.56. In the jump events, Delaney Beard matched Jones' feat with a second-place finish in the Triple Jump, posting a mark of 11.01m.

Katlynn Traister had an excellent day in the sprint events for Clarion, putting in top-five finishes in the 100m and 200m and notching PRs to boot. The senior sprinter won the second heat of the 100m with a PR of 12.83, placing her fifth in the field. She also took off in the second heat of the 200m, posting a career-best 26.63 to take fourth. Hunter Barger was another sprinter with a strong day, taking eighth in the 400m with a time of 1:03.08.

Kia Braithwaite showed well in the 400m Hurdles, placing eighth with a time of 1:11.91, and was also part of a good performance for the 4x400m Relay team. Working with Chelsey Kabel, Letizia Collini and Mackenzie Carver, the squad took third with a time of 4:19.70.

VOLLEYBALL

Clarion falls to No. 10 Gannon

ERIE The Golden Eagle volleyball team saw their four-match win streak snapped on Saturday (March 27), dropping a pair of 3-0 matches to 10th-ranked Gannon at the Hammermill Center in Erie. Clarion (4-4) will head back to Erie tomorrow (March 31) for a doubleheader at Mercyhurst.

The second match was generally closer than the first, though in both instances the Golden Knights stymied the Golden Eagle offense en route to a sweep win. Clarion hit just .011 in the first meeting between the teams and .149 in the second, while Gannon hit .247 and .270, respectively. The Golden Knights also served tough, posting 16 total aces to Clarion's nine, and held the dig advantage in both matches.

Julia Piccolino led Clarion in kills with 29 over the six sets, including a match-high 17 in the second match of the day. The sophomore outside hit .441 in that second match, recording just two errors on her 34 attempts. Sadie Leisinger added five kills in the first match while Aleah Karam and Amy Regrut each had four in the second.

The closest set of the first match was the very first one, with neither team pulling away from the other until Gannon put on the finishing touches late. The Golden Eagles won the race to 15 points after a service ace from Aubrey Wrona made it 15-13, and they took a 19-18 advantage when Alexa Cundy and Abigail Yeager combined to block Lauren Sampson. Yeager later tied the score at 20 with a kill, but Gannon scored five of the next six points to take the first set by a 25-21 score.

The Golden Knights were firmly in control for the duration of the second set, jumping out to an 18-8 lead and eventually leading by as many as 12 points. The teams traded the last couple of points, with Gannon eventually pulling ahead by a 25-14 margin. The third set started with a 6-2 run by Gannon, and they eventually stretched the gap to double-digits with a Clarion attack error. Ashley Kerestes and Kaeli Kristensen combined for a block on match point to seal the win.

Conversely, it was the first set of the next match that was the only one to truly get away from Clarion, as the Golden Knights pulled away early en route to a 25-15 set win. The Golden Eagles responded with a big run to start the second set, outpacing Gannon 7-3 to open. Piccolino and Annie Koester got it started with a block of Laura Bebinger, Cambron Hampton aced Madde Blake, and Piccolino punctuated the run with back-to-back kills. Gannon rallied, scoring 13 of the next 19 points to take a 16-11 lead, but Clarion pulled to within three points late on an ace by Piccolino. Makenna Gavin forced set point with a kill to make it 24-20, and Katie Becht served up an ace to give her team a 2-0 match lead.

The Golden Knights opened the third set on a 7-2 run, but Clarion responded with an 8-3 run of their own to tie the set at 10. The Golden Eagles kept it close, eventually taking a 17-16 lead on an error. London Fuller made it an 18-17 advantage with a kill, and a Gannon error gave Clarion a 20-19 advantage late in the set. The Golden Knights responded by scoring six of the next eight points, though, taking the set 25-22 and the match.