Niagara University, N.Y. — From the brink of dawn, sweat is dripping and the workload is heavy, quite literally, as the Women of the Niagara University Softball team prepare for the 2017 season. As many are aware, the game of softball is taken quite seriously by those who are committed to it. The women of Niagara go above and beyond sacrificing for the game they love.
Softball is one of the few sports that have multiple games in one day. Otherwise known as a ‘double header’ (DH), or two games that are played between the same two teams back to back. For the Purple Eagles and mostly all teams of the MAAC conference, every game from March 30 to the end of the season will be a DH which means that it takes tenacious dedication to be able to play the game while still getting a private education.
This year, two accolade winning players returned to the Niagara roster, senior shortstop Chanelle Ward being one of them. Ward is an offensive powerhouse who finished the 2016 season by being named to the 2016 All-MAAC Second Team with a career-best .350 batting average.
Sophomore Sierra Bertrand being the other, is statistically the Purple Eagles best pitcher. Bertrand led the team in ERA (Earned Run Average) in the 2016 season with 2.97. She finished the season with 96 strikeouts, ranking fifth in the MAAC conference. This year Bertrand currently is off to a hot start, with 39 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.86.
Red-shirt junior Bridget Hogan is leading the team this season at bat with a percentage of .358. Hogan is off to a hot start with 19 hits on 53 at bats and nine RBIs (Runs Batted In). Sophomore Jerri Ann Orfano isn’t far behind batting 15 for 42 with a BPA of .357.
The Niagara Softball teams current record sits at 7-9 overall without any conference games just yet. Their first MAAC contest will be away against Iona College on April 1. The home opener for the ball club will take place on April 5 against Youngstown State Univ.