DAYTON, Ohio - The Saint Joseph's softball team is headed to the 2019 Atlantic 10 Championship after securing the fifth seed with a split of its doubleheader at Dayton on Sunday. The Hawks, who won game two 8-1 after falling 8-5 in the opener, will face the fourth seeded Flyers at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the opening game of the conference postseason tournament.
Picked to finish seventh in the A-10 preseason poll, Saint Joseph's proved voters wrong as it capped the regular season with a 13-10 record in conference play to finish in fifth place, just ahead of Saint Louis in sixth at 12-10.
Having clinched a spot in the A-10 Championship before the first pitch of the day, Saint Joseph's looked to secure the fifth seed with a victory in the day's second game. However, the host Flyers wouldn't make that easy as they took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the bottom of the second.
Saint Joseph's (26-23) responded in a big way in the fifth inning as they plated five runs to take a 5-1 edge. Molly Kapala got the Hawks on the board with a three-run home run, while two more runs came around to score on a single by Jancarla Herrera.
A three-run top of the sixth extended SJU's lead to 8-1 as Caela Abadie collected a pair of runs batted in on a double, while Molly Kapala scored the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Marinelli.
Leading by seven, starter Chelsea Evans and the Hawks' defense wouldn't allow a Flyer to get past third base over the final two innings to secure the victory and the fifth seed. Evans, who allowed just one run on five hits, improved to 5-3 on the season with the complete game victory.
In the opener, Dayton took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the Hawks cut the advantage in half in the second on a solo home run by Marinelli.
The Flyers extended their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the second, but Saint Joseph's scored three times in the top of the third to take a 4-3 lead. Sarah Ostaszewski scored the first run on a double by Kapala, while Kapala tied the game as she scored on a single by Taryn Grober. A single by Stacey Mayer pushed the Hawks ahead by one as Marinelli scored the third run of the inning.
Dayton tied the game with a run in the bottom of the third and retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth on a solo home run.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Flyers regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on a three-run home run and held SJU off the board in the seventh to close out the game.
In the circle, Amanda Herr moved to 8-4 on the season with the loss as she allowed eight runs on 15 hits, while striking out one in 5.1 innings. Evans came in for 0.2 innings of relief, but didn't factor into the decision.
The 2019 A-10 Championship, which runs from May 8-11, is hosted by Massachusetts at the UMass Softball Complex with all 10 (or more) games being streamed live on ESPN+. The winner of the double-elimination A-10 Championship will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
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