|Beth Kann's dramatic homer put Iona in the driver's seat|
Niagara 3 (8)
The Iona Gaels and Niagara Purple Eagles split a crucial MAAC doubleheader Sunday in New Rochelle, NY.
Game one saw the continuance of the dominant pitching of Niagara's Jen Sansano. The junior transfer was once again brilliant, shutting out the Gaels while striking out 11; she walked only one batter and scattered three hits. The Purple Eagles went in front in the top of the first inning thanks to Alexis Wayne's RBI single; it would be all they'd need. But they did add another run in the top of the fourth inning with an Ambur Farmer RBI single, and went on to win 2-0. Carly Argyle herself pitched very well in taking the loss, striking out eight. Alexis Wayne was 2 for 3 for Niagara; Sarah Schutz had two of Iona's three hits.
Niagara, needing a win to clinch a tournament berth, jumped to a 2-0 first inning lead in game two when Becky Zill launched a bomb over the fence. They increased their lead to 3-0 in the next inning when Aileen Hinton doubled home a run. Iona began to rally in the bottom of the third inning when Bri Schauer's RBI single cut the Niagara lead to 3-1. The bottom of the fourth inning saw Iona hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game, solo shots by Katie Jansson and Carly Argyle. In the fifth inning, Jen Sansano entered the game in relief of Niagara starter Kim Bryson, and shut down Iona for another three innings. The game went to extras, and in the bottom of the eighth inning, senior Beth Kann launched a pitch over the center field fence, sending the defending champions into a frenzy of celebration. It was one of the biggest hits in Iona history; a loss would have made Iona's chances at the tournament very slender. As it turned out, that is now Niagara's chances, after their fabulous streak. Jen Sansano took the loss, but you can hardly blame her for anything; she was the main reason the Purple Eagles climbed back into contention. Carly Argyle got the win, pitching 15 innings on the day, and getting three crucial MAAC wins over the weekend. Katie Jansson was 3 for 3 in the game for Iona. Becky Zill and Ambur Farmer had two hits each for Niagara.
Iona is 8-6. They must sweep St. Peter's next weekend to get in, because Manhattan at 9-7 owns the tiebreaker between the two teams. Niagara finished MAAC play at 9-7; they must hope that Siena loses all four of their remaining games.