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Olivia Pess walked to the batter’s box in the bottom of the second with the game tied at 0-0. Geana Torres waited at second base with two outs while Pess hadn’t recorded a hit at home so far this season.
Pess looked at a ball in the dirt but sent the next pitch high to deep left field. Niagara’s Madison Rastello ran after it, but the ball bounced off the net along the outfield fence, and Pess hit her third home run of the season and first in a month.
“We started doing new drills for hitting this week to be more successful and going through the zone, and a lot of girls tried that at the plate,” Angel Jasso said. “I think being coachable allowed us to do great.”
Syracuse (22-20, 4-15 Atlantic Coast) toppled Niagara (12-20, 6-6 Metro Atlantic) 6-2 in a windy Thursday evening contest. The Orange have now won nine of their last 10 nonconference games. This is the first time the two teams clashed in three years. Syracuse’s power hitting helped it score three home runs through six innings.
The game started off quiet with no hits through the first inning. Kelly Breen broke that trend with a hard grounder up the middle for a single, and Torres got on base with a fielder’s choice. Then, the Orange tagged up to second on a Laila Alves fly out the right field fence.
That’s when Pess came up to the plate and put the Orange on the board with a two run homer to left field. But, the Purple Eagles’ Shayna Myshrall immediately responded. She hit a solo shot that bounced off the top of the fence and out after a long seven pitch battle with Ariana Adams.
Niagara head coach Larry Puzan put in Cara Leone to pitch to start the bottom of the third. Pess took a walk and then stole second on the next at bat. Tessa Galipeau made weak contact on a grounder that snuck through second baseman Maggie Vesneske’s legs and into right field. This bought enough time for Pess to run home and put the score at 3-1.
After a Samantha Hare line drive up the middle for a base hit, head coach Shannon Doepking substituted Lindsey Hendrix in for Adams in the top of the fourth at the mound. She got out the next two batters to get the Orange out of the inning.
Leading off the bottom of the fifth, Neli Casares-Maher gave a 2-0 pitch plenty of air and easily sent it to straight center for a home run with the bases cleared. This extended the lead to 6-1 and was the last Orange hit of the evening.
Hendrix kept the Purple Eagles at bay, only allowing one hit. Kaia Oliver allowed a single to Alicia Nash, and then Pess dropped a fly ball in left field to put runners on first and second.
Madison LaPenta tagged up from second to third, and then third to home on two deep fly balls to right field: one of which Jasso had to rob from being a homer. But Oliver caught Rastello swinging on a 1-2 pitch to secure the 6-2 victory.
This is the first time since February 20th the Orange hit at least three home runs in a game and the third time all season. Casares-Maher was a big part of that, sending two over the fence for three RBIs. Syracuse also collectively struck out a third of the batters they faced.
The Orange have an eight-day break until they see the field again. The team finishes the season with a three-game series at home against North Carolina. Jasso said she thinks the time off will serve the team well.
“It feels amazing just to reset, get your mental game back on, go out and beat UNC so we can go to the ACC Tournament,” Jasso said.
The post Syracuse’s strength at the plate leads to 6-2 win over Niagara appeared first on The Daily Orange.