Point Park takes two from Carlow on Senior Day, cliches AMC playoff spot
April 26, 2011
Point Park University softball seniors (L to R) with families Natika Ecklund, Abbie Heigel, Nicole Kerestine, Lindsey Pesanka and Kristen Zelenka.
KENNEDY TWP., Pa. -- The Point Park University softball team won both ends of an American Mideast Conference doubleheader with crosstown rival Carlow University Tuesday at Fairhaven Park, and the Pioneers (20-15, 9-3 AMC) clinched a spot in next week's AMC playoffs in the process.
Point Park rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 6-5 win in Tuesday's opener before slugging past Carlow (12-22, 3-10 AMC), 9-4, in the rain-shortened nightcap. The second game was called final after six innings due to rain.
Point Park celebrated its Senior Day Tuesday, and seniors Natika Ecklund, Abbie Heigel, Nicole Kerestine, Lindsey Pesanka and Kristen Zelenka were honored. Those five players have helped Point Park to a record of 78-60 the last four years.
At 9-3 in the AMC, Point Park is in first place in the conference and has assured itself a spot in the playoffs after a two-year absence. The top four teams make the AMC tournament, and fifth-place Malone (6-6 AMC) cannot catch Point Park with two games remaining on its schedule.
Point Park finishes the regular season at home Thursday for two games vs. second-place Notre Dame (OH) (7-3 AMC). The Pioneers will be playing for seeding in that matchup with a possible regular-season championship and the honor of hosting the AMC tourney on the line.
The AMC Tournament is a four-team, double-elimination tournament scheduled for May 4-6 at the No. 1 seed. The winner of the tournament advances to the NAIA national tournament.
The Pioneers have now won eight of their last nine conference games to vault themselves into first place. Point Park needed a rally in game one to keep that streak alive as Amanda Ardinger's RBI single with one out in the bottom of the seventh gave the Pioneers the 6-5 win.
Carlow scored in each of the first four innings to stake a 5-4 lead, the score stayed that way into the last of the seventh. The Pioneers had four of their eight hits in their last at bat, and the inning started with a double from Lindsey Pesanka and a single from Nichelle Navarro.
Ashley Morran followed with an run-scoring base hit, and Ardinger was the next batter with her game-winner. Ardinger, a sophomore center fielder from Moon Twp., Pa., was 2 for 4 with two RBIs. She drove in a run with a single in Point Park's three-run third. That inning was capped off by a sacrifice fly from Julie Campbell to put the Pioneers in front, 4-3.
Reliever Lindsey Inzana (6-6) pitched three perfect innings to pick up the win. The Chesapeake, Va., native did not allow a hit or a run, struck out four of the nine batters she faced and had zero walks in three innings of work.
Carlow starter Melissa Costantini (6-9) gave up six runs on eight hits but kept Point Park in check for the most part aside from a couple of big innings.
In the second game, Carlow once again got out to an early lead as the Celtics were ahead, 3-0, after its first two times at bat. Point Park got to within a run when Ardinger ripped a two-run homer in the third that cut the deficit to 4-3.
Then the Pioneers used the long ball to pour on five runs in the fourth. Danielle Dorunda, who had stroked an RBI single in the second, belted a two-run homer to establish the lead for good. Later, Ashley Morran clubbed her team-leading sixth homer, a three-run shot to deep left that put the Pioneers up, 8-4.
Nichelle Navarro, who was 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored, made the score 9-4 with her run-scoring double in the bottom of the sixth. The rains came after that half inning, and the game was called final through six innings.
Joining Navarro with three apiece as part of Point Park's 13-hit attack were Olivia Sorce (3 for 4) and Larissa Banks (3 for 3). Dorunda added two hits and three RBIs.
Kelsey Robertson (5-4) went the distance for Point Park to pick up the win. The sophomore righty from Frostburg, Md., struck out one, walked three and allowed four runs on six hits in six innings. Earlier in the day, she was named AMC Softball Pitcher of the Week for allowing just two runs in 11 innings April 18-24.