Russell Throws No Hitter; Softball Sweeps Wagner in Opening Day DH

Fairfield, CT – Senior Jen Russell (Seymour, CT) owned the first game at Pioneer Park in 2011, tossing a no-hitter and retiring the last 17 hitters she faced.  Sophomore Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC) would not be outdone in the second game of the double dip, ringing up 16 strikeouts in a 7-1 victory.  Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) belted a two-run homer in the opening game of the afternoon, a 4-0 Pioneer triumph, while Annie Dreher (Saugus, CA) went 3-for-3 in game two and was just a homer short of the cycle.

Sacred Heart (11-9, 2-0 NEC) leadoff hitter Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA) ripped the first pitch of the Northeast Conference schedule for a double in the right-center field gap.  Tsipouras delivered her third homerun of the year with two outs in the first to give the Pioneers a 2-0 edge.  Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA) extended the bottom of the third with a two-out single.  Tsipouras then ripped what appeared to be a harmless single to left.  But the Seahawk left fielder had the ball bounce away and then airmailed the throw to third, allowing Lee to scamper home with an unearned run to make it 3-0, SHU.

Wagner (1-14, 0-2 NEC) entered Saturday's double header without a batter hitting north of .225 at the dish.  Russell took advantage of the struggling lineup and did not allow a Seahawk hitter to get the ball out of the infield.  SHU got an insurance run in the fourth as Sidor started the inning with a single and scored on a Shannon McCoy (Yorba Linda, CA) double to center.  Russell ended the game, and her streak of retiring 17 straight, as second baseman Melissa Tobin (Hudson, MA) shoveled a weak ground ball over to first to record the final out of the Pioneers first no hitter of 2011.

Sidor used her rise ball early and often as the sophomore hurler struck out the first eight Seahawks she faced.  The Pioneers would explode for four runs in the third inning with the rally starting on back-to-back four pitch walks drawn by Carley Rudloff (Thousand Oaks, CA) and Marissa Montemagni (Chicopee, MA).  Froelich singled through the left side of the infield to load the bases and Alyssa Garza (Santa Clarita, CA) plated two runs with a single up the middle.  SHU notched the third run on a wild pitch and a fourth as pinch runner Jade Bowins (Frederick, MD) came home on a Dreher RBI single.

The Seahawks finally broke through for a run in the fourth as Mackenzie Alfaro singled, advanced to second on a fielder's choice, and scored on a two-out single.  SHU got the run back in the bottom of the fifth as Dreher doubled down the left field line, scoring Tsipouras from first base.  Erin McAndrews (Marblehead, MA) ended the day's scoring with a pinch hit two-run double against the left center field fence to put Sacred Heart on top, 7-1.  The first Seahawk reached base in the seventh but Sidor completed the frame by striking out the side and putting the finishing touches on a SHU pitching dominated sweep of NEC rival Wagner.

The Sacred Heart softball team returns to action tomorrow afternoon in non-league action for a double header against Siena.  First pitch is set for 1:00 pm.