MU softball sweeps Clarion, earns PSAC playoff berth
Kate Pratt, a Troy graduate, threw a two-hitter in the opener and Emily Crandell earned her third save of the season in the nightcap to lead Mansfield to a sweep over Clarion Sunday afternoon and a berth in the upcoming PSAC playoffs.
Mansfield won the opener 10-1 in six innings on the eight-run rule and rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win the nightcap 7-4.
The wins, coupled with a sweep over IUP yesterday, clinched a spot in the PSAC playoffs for the first time since 2009 and gives the Mountaineers a four-game sweep over Clarion for the season.
In the opener, Mansfield got on the scoreboard first with two runs in the top of the second inning on a pair of RBI doubles by Taylor Stupski and Courtney Bauder.
The Mountaineers added three more runs in the fourth, on an RBI double by Kaitlyn Harris and two-run double from Stephanie Simmeth, to extend their lead to 5-0.
Mansfield went up 7-0 with two runs in the fifth on an RBI double by Ashley Inman followed by a run scoring single by Chara Dixon.
Clarion cut the margin to 7-1 when Kacie Nemeth led off the bottom of the fifth with a home run, but the Mountaineers came right back in the top of the six with three more runs, two of them on a triple by Danielle Long and the third coming off a sac fly by Inman to take a 10-1 lead.
Pratt, who picked up a win in relief yesterday at IUP, started in the circle and didn't allow a hit until the third inning in improving to 7-6 on the season. She struck out four and walked just one.
Mansfield pounded out 12 hits in the game including doubles by Bauder, Simmeth, Inman, Harris and Stupski along with Long's triple. Simmeth went 3-4 with two RBI's while Long and Inman each had two hits and two RBIs.
Julie Sokol went the distance and took the loss for Clarion.
In the nightcap, Clarion scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the second before the Mountaineers countered with two runs in the top of the third. With one out, Bauder and Simmeth delivered back-to-back singles and later scored on a single by Inman to tie the score at 2-2.
The Mountaineers took the lead for good with four runs in the fourth, three of them scoring on a bases-loaded double by Pratt. The junior slugger has 10 RBIs over the last two days and now has 40 on the season.
Caitlin Klobosits started on the mound and went 3.2 innings without allowing an earned run before being relieved by Inman who picked up her second win in two days to improve to 3-0. Crandell was credited with the save after not allowing a run over the final 1.2 innings.
Bauder and freshman Megan Miller both had two hits to lead the offense.
Kayla Henderson, Nicole Lindner and Chelsea Zola all had multi-hit games for Clarion with Zola taking the loss.
Mansfield has won its last five games, all of them PSAC Central contests, to improve to 21-11 overall and 8-4 in the PSAC Central.
The Mountaineers, who have conference doubleheaders with Lock Haven and Bloomsburg remaining, have clinched at least third place in the PSAC Central to advance to the PSAC playoffs held in Quakertown May 1-4.