MERION STATION, Pa. - The Saint Joseph's softball team swept its doubleheader versus city rival La Salle Wednesday afternoon at the SJU Softball Field. The Hawks downed the Explorers 12-7 in the opener and finished the sweep in a 3-1 win in a five-inning game that was called due to darkness.

In game one, La Salle jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first, collecting a pair of doubles and taking advantage of four hit batters and a walk from SJU starting pitcher Liz Mendez.

Shortstop Nicole Palase led off the bottom of the second with a triple to the right-center gap to get the Hawks' offense going and came in to score in the next at-bat on a RBI ground out by first baseman Ashley Alden.

Saint Joseph's would battle back to take the lead in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a pair of Explorer errors to score four times.

Right fielder Isabella Picard reached on a fielding error by La Salle and would successfully advance to second on a stolen base. Following a sacrifice bunt by Melissa Ruf that moved Picard to third, second baseman Sarah Yoos drilled a double to the gap in right center, easily allowing Picard to score to make it 4-2. After an infield single by designated player Brandi Harkness, Palase would keep the rally going, singling up the middle to score Yoos to bring the Hawks within one, 4-3.

With two outs and runners at second and third, catcher Hannah Dionne grounded directly to the La Salle shortstop who couldn't handle the ball, allowing pinch runner Traneya White and Palase to score.

Ruf would add to the Hawks lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out solo home run over the center field wall to make it 6-4.

A RBI single by third baseman Morgan Earling that scored Palase would spark a three-run bottom of the fifth that pushed Saint Joseph's lead to 9-4. 

La Salle would rally in the top of the sixth, drawing three bases-loaded walks to cut the deficit to 9-7, but relief pitcher Emily Rogers would get a line-drive double play to end the inning.

Dionne drove in Harkness to push the lead to 10-7, while Earling delivered a two-run home run over the left field wall to push the lead back to five, 12-7.

Rogers didn't allow La Salle to rally in the seventh as she picked up her second save of the season. Niki Carillo picked up the win, allowing three runs over three innings of relief, while striking out a pair.

At the plate in the first game, Earling was 3-for4 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Palase was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a RBI. Ruf and Dionne additionally added three RBI apiece.

In the nightcap, Michelle Hagarty led off the game with a solo home run off Mendez to give La Salle a 1-0 lead.

The Hawks would answer back in the bottom of the first as they scored three times to take a 3-1 edge. Yoos singled with two outs and would come in to tie the game on a RBI double by Harkness. Palase would follow with a two-run home run off La Salle's Mary Cate Scott to give her team a two-run advantage.

That's all the support Mendez would need as she held the Explorers off the scoreboard from there as the game was called after five innings due to lack of light.

With the win, Mendez improved to 8-9 on the year. Saint Joseph's moved to 18-16 overall and 8-4 in the Atlantic 10.

Saint Joseph's returns to action this weekend at Massachusetts.