ERIE, Pa. – The Penn State Behrend softball team clinched the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) regular-season championship and the top seed for playoffs with 10-2 and 13-3 five-inning victories over Franciscan on Saturday.
With the two wins, the Lions (26-12, 16-2 AMCC) not only remain undefeated against the Barons (12-20, 8-10 AMCC) but they also posted a 12-0 mark playing at home during the regular season.
Behrend smacked four home runs on the day, one by Shannon McDonnell (Fayston, VT/Harwood Union) in game one and three in the nightcap. Alexa Bupp (Warren, PA/Warren) is responsible for two of the three, including a grand slam in the fifth inning. AJ Nichols (Pittsburgh, PA/Shaler) cranked out a double and a homer, while getting her 11th win in the circle with allowing three hits and no earned runs.
Carson Hauser (Westfield, NY/Westfield Academy) also went a combined 7-for-8 with four runs and two RBIs.
In game one, Franciscan led off with a triple but the Lions defense halted the run from reaching home. The Barons did come back the next inning with a run off two hits to get on the board first, however, Behrend answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead for good. Back-to-back doubles by Kesley Heinrich (Brookville, PA/Brookville) and Hauser allowed Katie Gozzard (Pittsburgh, PA/Deer Lakes) and Becca Svoboda (Sagamore, OH/Nordonia) to score. Heinrich also came around on Hauser's double for a 3-1 lead.
Behrend added two runs in the third, two more in the fourth thanks to McDonnell's home run and then finished the game with three in the bottom of the fifth. Nichols singled up the middle to send home Heirnrich and Hauser to halt the contest at 10-2 with no outs.
Rachel Miller (North East, PA/North East) was successful in the circle in game one. She allowed six hits and two earned runs for the win.
Nichols and Bupp combined for 10 of the 12 RBIs in game two to help the Lions complete the sweep and get head coach Ashley Gruber within two victories from reaching 100 for her career.
Behrend took a 4-0 lead after the first three innings. Gozzard knocked in McDonnell in the first for the lone run. Bupp and Nichols hit long balls in the third to add three more runs, before Franciscan tallied three runs in the first to cut the deficit to one run.
The Lions went through the batting order and recorded nine runs on six hits and four errors by the Barons. Hauser singled and Franciscan committed a pair of errors to load the bases for Bupp to hit her grand slam over the left-field fence.
The runs kept adding up and Nichols did it once again by getting the hit that ends the game, this time it was a three RBI double for a 13-3 final in five.
Behrend returns to action on Friday in the AMCC Championships. Game time is 4 p.m.