SFU softball punches ticket to NCAA Tournament


The Saint Francis Softball team is the back-to-back NEC Champion after launching four homers in a dominating performance against LIU Brooklyn on Saturday.  The Red Flash completed its second straight undefeated conference season with an 11-1, five-inning, victory over the Blackbirds.   Saint Francis is now 39-17 overall heading into the NCAA Tournament.
Saint Francis, earning the NEC’s automatic bid, will find out its NCAA Regional destination on Sunday during the NCAA Selection Show.  The show will be broadcast at 10 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Red Flash became the first NEC team to repeat as tournament champions since Robert Morris in 2013-15.  Saint Francis also extended its NEC win streak to 38 games, moving into sole possession of fourth all-time in NCAA Division I history, passing Florida (2008-09).  The Red Flash won its 19th straight game this season and its 22nd straight home game. 
Taylor Hoover (Phillipsburg, Ohio/Northmont), Sierra McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois), Hayley Norton (Spring Grove, Pa./Spring Grove) and Adrian Smith (Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) all earned All-Tournament honors.  McKee and Norton each recorded .500 averages.  Norton had six hits, including three homers, with six RBI and five runs.  McKee went 5-for-10 with two homers, seven RBI and four runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in Friday’s win over Sacred Heart.  Hoover had a pair of clutch hits on the weekend, including a homer and a double, while Smith went 2-0, giving up just one run in 10.2 innings.
With four homers on the day, including two by Madison Cabell (Ivor, Va./Southampton), the Red Flash broke the school and NEC season record, passing 81 homers by the 2016 team.  The Red Flash now has 83 homers on the season, leading Division I.  Mikayla Bower (Williamsport, Pa./Williamsport) and Norton joined Cabell with dingers on Saturday.
Adrian Smith (Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) earned NEC Tournament MVP honors after another shutdown performance.  After throwing 5.2 shutout innings on Friday, Smith fired a complete-game, allowing just one run and four hits in five innings.  She did not walk a batter and struck out five. 
Erynn Sobieski started for the Blackbirds, going an inning, giving up three runs, two earned, on three hits.  She struck out one and walked one.  Haley Irvis allowed seven runs, three earned, on four hits in 1.2 innings.  Victoria Lowe threw the final 2.1 innings, allowing a homer and striking out one.
The Red Flash tallied 11 runs on eight hits.  Madison Cabell (Ivor, Va./Southampton) crushed a pair of two-run homers, while Hayley Norton (Spring Grove, Pa./Spring Grove) had two hits, including a three-run homer.  Mikayla Bower (Williamsport, Pa./Williamsport) added a solo homer and scored two runs.  Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois) and Jordan Seneca (Plum, Pa./Plum) each had a hit and two runs.
LIU Brooklyn scored a run on four hits.  Schae Dickson had a single and an RBI, while Ryleigh Bermea contributed a single and a run.  Kiana Cisneros and Alina Castillo each had a single.
The Red Flash jumped out to a three-run lead in the first.  Following a leadoff single by Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois), two batters later, Cabell blasted a two-run bomb to right-center.  Seneca followed with a single and then stole second.  Seneca moved to third on a grounder by Hoover before scoring on a wild pitch.
Saint Francis added two runs in the second.  After a single by Norton, Cabell launched her second dinger of the game, this time to left, to give the Red Flash a 5-0 advantage.
The Red Flash plated five runs in the third.  Seneca drew a leadoff walk and Hoover reached on an infield single before a grounder by Bower was misplayed on a throw to first to allow Seneca to cross the plate.  A sacrifice fly to right by Kassidy Troxell (Navarre, Ohio/Perry) drove in Hoover.  After a walk by Cheyenne McKee (DuBois, Pa./DuBois), Norton blasted her first pitch over the wall in center for a three-run shot to put SFU ahead, 10-0.
Saint Francis added a run in the fourth.  With two outs, Bower crushed a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center, her 11th of the season, to give the Red Flash an 11-0 lead.
The Blackbirds scored a run in the fifth.  Ryleigh Bermea lined a one-out single to left and moved to second on a wild pitch.  A single by Kiana Cisneros moved Bermea to third before a fielder’s choice by Schae Dickson allowed Bermea to cross the plate.

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