Grand slam leads SFU past Sacred Heart

Sports

 Sierra McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) crushed a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth to lead the Saint Francis Softball team to a 9-7 win over Sacred Heart on Friday in the NEC Tournament.  The Red Flash trailed from the second inning until McKee’s blast, but survived to advance to Saturday’s championship game.  Saint Francis improved to 38-17 overall, while Sacred Heart dropped to 31-24.
 
The Red Flash will look to win its second straight NEC Title on Saturday.  Saint Francis will take on whoever advances out of the loser’s bracket at Noon tomorrow.
 
Saint Francis has now won 37 straight NEC games, tying Florida (2008-09) for the fourth-longest conference streak in NCAA Division I history.
 
The Red Flash has also won 18 straight games this year, the longest current streak in Division I.  Saint Francis has also won 21 straight home games.
 
McKee’s grand slam was SFU’s ninth of the season, leading all levels of NCAA Softball.  It was McKee’s second of the season, adding to her slam at Marshall.  The Red Flash hit their nation-leading 79th home run of the season.  SFU is just three dingers away from the school and NEC season record, set by the 2016 squad.
 
Adrian Smith (Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) earned her 10th win of the season, firing 5.2 shutout innings in relief.  She allowed just four hits and two walks, while striking out six.  Abby Trahan (Kaplan, La./Kaplan) started the game, going 1.1 innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
 
Kristen McCann started in the circle for Sacred Heart, going 5.1 innings.  She gave up eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits.  McCann struck out five and walked three.  Emily Orosco came on in relief, throwing the final two outs, allowing a run on one hit and striking out one.
 
The Red Flash tallied nine runs on nine hits.  McKee collected three hits, including her slam, three runs and five RBI.  Taylor Hoover (Phillipsburg, Ohio/Northmont) added a two-run double and Jordan Seneca (Plum, Pa./Plum) drove in a run.  Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) had a single and two runs, while Hayley Norton (Spring Grove, Pa./Spring Grove), Madison Cabell (Ivor, Va./Southampton) and Jordan Frank (DuBois, Pa./DuBois Central Catholic) each had a base hit and a run.
 
The Pioneers scored seven runs on 11 hits.  Katelyn Christian drove in three runs, including a two-run homer.  Fallon Bevino went three-for-four, including a two-run double, and Kelyn Fillmore had two hits and two RBI, including an RBI double. 
 
Sacred Heart took a two-run lead in the top of the first.  With two runners on, a single to right by Fillmore allowed Hailey Desrosiers to cross the plate.  After an infield single loaded the bases, Christian was hit by a pitch to drive in Stephanie Mangiameli.
 
The Red Flash responded with three runs in the bottom half.  Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch before Norton reached on an infield single.  Cabell and Sierra McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) drew back-to-back walks with Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) scoring on her sister’s walk.  Seneca grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in Norton.  The Red Flash then ran a double steal play, with a wild throw allowing McKee to score and give SFU a 3-2 lead.
 
The Pioneers answered with five runs in the second.  With the bases loaded, Fillmore doubled to the left field corner to drive in Desrosiers.  Bevino followed with a double to right to bring home Fillmore and Mangiameli. A homer by Christian gave SHU a 7-3 advantage.
 
Sacred Heart loaded the bases in the fourth.  However, Christian’s line drive to center was caught by a diving Jordan Frank (DuBois, Pa./DuBois Central Catholic), who then fired to second to double off the runner.  The Red Flash then threw over to third on an appeal and won after it was ruled that the runner did not tag.
 
The Red Flash cut the deficit in half in the fifth.  With one out, Cabell blooped a single to right.  Sierra McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) followed with a single to left.  Two batters later, Hoover drove one to the gap in right-center for a two-run double.  The Red Flash trailed 7-5 after five innings.
 
Saint Francis took the lead in dramatic fashion, with a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth.  Frank led off the inning with a single to right.  Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) followed with a single to right.  Two batters later, Cabell drew a walk to load the bases.  On the ninth pitch of her at-bat, Sierra McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) launched a ball over the wall in left for a grand slam.  Her second slam of the season gave the Red Flash a 9-7 lead.

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