South Orange, NJ – The SHU softball team got a huge effort from Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC), at the plate and in the circle, to defeat Manhattan 1-0 in the semifinals of the Seton Hall Pirate Classic. The Pioneers dropped a 10-8 decision to the Jaspers earlier in the day as the two sides completed pool play action. But Sacred Heart picked up the more important victory just a few hours later to advance to the championship game of the event on the strength of a Sidor homer and complete game shutout.
Sacred Heart (9-8) scored the only run of the semifinal with one-out in the second inning as Sidor sent her second long ball of 2011 over the left-center field fence. The crafty right hander recorded 11 strikeouts without surrendering a free pass and allowing just four Jasper hits. Sidor set down nine straight hitters to end the afternoon and pick up her second victory of the tournament as SHU advances to face the Pirates in tomorrow's title tilt.
The first game between the two sides was a shootout as both offenses scored early and often. Manhattan (5-11) put up two runs in the top of the first on a two RBI single from Nicole Michel. Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) knotted the game in the bottom half of the inning with a two-run homer, her second dinger of the season. The Jaspers took advantage of a pair of SHU fielding errors in the second to push across four unearned runs and take a 6-2 advantage.
The Pioneers scratched out a run of their own in the bottom of the second as Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA) singled to drive in Sidor. But Manhattan stole the run back as Jen Keller swiped home to give the Jaspers another unearned marker. Manhattan extended the cushion to 10-3 on an Amanda Babcock two-run double that also saw the hitter eventually score on the Pioneers fourth error of the game.
SHU attempted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth as Sidor started the frame with a two-run blast to cut the deficit to 10-5. Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA) ripped a run scoring single to make it 10-6 and Tsipouras worked a bases loaded walk to score a seventh run. Shannon McCoy (Yorba Linda, CA) slashed a bases loaded single to left field to pull SHU within two, 10-8. The Pioneers had the bases loaded with the tying run in scoring position and Sidor at the dish again. Sidor hit the ball on the screws but lined out to the second baseman to end the frame. Alyssa Garza (Santa Clarita, CA) started the bottom of the seventh with a double down the left field line but would be stranded there as the Jaspers escaped with the 10-8 victory.
The SHU softball team will take on host Seton Hall tomorrow at 12:30 pm to decide the Pirate Classic championship.