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Thompson Carries Express Past Mercyhurst, Hollister Slams 2 HR As Express Move To 20-2

Hallie Thompson scores against No. 17 Mercyhurst NE. The sophomore shortstop was 3-for-3 with two triples, two runs and an RBI against them. Just below, Melanie Iacoangeli slides in safely as she stole her 28th and 29th bases of the season today. Far below, Ashlyn Michalak delivers against Mercyhurst NE. Photos courtesy of Sharon Snyder/Owens Sports Information

By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information

North East, PA---Sophomores Hallie Thompson and Michelle Hollister powered the No. 7 Express past two ranked opponents today in North East, PA. With the wins, the Express moved to 20-2 overall.

Game 1: No. 7 Owens 4 No. 17 Mercyhurst NE 3

Thompson and Hollister combined to go 5-for-6 with three runs, three RBIs, two triples and a home run as the Express inched past Mercyhurst in a closely contested matchup.

The Express offense broke through first with a single run in the second inning. Tabitha Britt produced a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Thompson, who had singled with one out.

In the third, Mercyhurst answered back with two runs (one earned) off Express starter Ashlyn Michalak to take the lead. The first run came on a leadoff solo home run. The next batter hit a fly ball to right center, but Melanie Iacoangeli dropped it, which put the Mercyhurst runner at second. One out later, a single scored the second run.

The lead wouldn't last long as the Express took a 3-2 lead in the next half inning when Thompson tripled with one out and scored on a two-run home run from Hollister.

The Express then added what turned out to be the game winning run in the fifth inning. With two outs, Mareshah Scott lined a double down the left field line and scored on Thompson's second triple of the day to right field.

Neither team would score until the bottom half of the seventh. Back-to-back singles started the inning off Michalak. Following a sacrifice bunt that advanced both runners, Michalak got a key strikeout. The next batter, however, lined an RBI single directly off Michalak's leg to make it 4-3. Michalak, while initially going down in pain, toughed it out and stayed in the game. She then induced a 4-3 groundout to end the game.

Michalak picked up her 10th win this season. While she didn't have her best game of the year, the sophomore scattered eight hits and one walk while striking out five in the complete game win. Only two of the three runs she allowed were earned.

Alex Puckly (13-4) took the complete game loss for Mercyhurst. She allowed 11 hits, four runs and two walks while striking out four.

Thompson finished 3-for-3 with two runs, two triples and an RBI, while Hollister was 2-for-3 with a two run HR. Iacoangeli went 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base from the leadoff spot.

The Express left nine runners on base in the game - including five in the first two innings.

Scott made a great play defensively in the fourth inning to preserve a 3-2 lead at the time for the Express. With runners on runners on first and second and one out, Mercyhurst's Allison Balkovic singled to centerfield. The ball took a funny bounce up near Scott's head but she fielded it and threw home to keep the bases loaded. Michalak got a 1-2 groundout and a 4-3 groundout to end the inning.

Game 2: No. 7 Owens 10 No. 28 CC of Rhode Island 1

The Express led 3-1 entering the sixth inning, but a three run homer from Hollister highlighted a seven run sixth inning that ended the game.

Similar to the first game, the Express took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Scott singled with one out before Hollister lined a single to left field one out later. On the play, though, CCRI's left fielder had the ball roll past her and all the way to the fence. Scott scored on the play, while Hollister moved to third, where she was stranded to end the inning.

In the fourth, Britt put Owens up 3-0 when she lined a two run double to left center that scored Hollister and Iacoangeli. Hollister had doubled, while Iacoangeli had singled earlier in the inning.

Express starter Lexi Sheets was the victim of a tough luck run in the fifth inning. With two outs and runners at first and third, CCRI's Devin Azulay popped a pitch up behind the circle in the infield. However, nobody took charge and the ball fell for an RBI single. Following a walk to the next batter to load the bases, Kasey Graham relieved Sheets and induced a groundout to second base to end the inning.

After the Express went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the fifth, CCRI got a one out double off Graham, but she got the next batter to fly out to center. On the play, the runner tagged and went to third, but she left early and the Express got a double play out of it.

The Express then exploded for seven runs in the sixth to end the game. Following back-to-back leadoff singles by Scott and Thompson, Hollister crushed the first pitch she saw deep over the center field wall for a three run homer. Following two more singles by Iacoangeli and Britt, a throwing error plated the fourth run. Katie Butler then hit a shot off the top of the center field wall to score Britt and make it 8-3.

Following a single by Glad and an intentional walk to Allison Hausch, who made her season debut today, the bases were loaded. Pinch hitter Hannah Morrison then lined a ground rule double to left center to score Glad and Katlyn Whitmarsh, who pinch ran for Butler.

Sheets improved to 6-1 with the win, while Graham was credited with her second save. The final line for Sheets included 4.2 innings, three hits, one run, six walks and three strikeouts. Graham's final line included 1.1 innings, one hit and one strikeout.

Hollister finished 3-for-3 with two runs, three RBIs, a double and a three run homer, while Iacoangeli was 3-for-3 with two runs, a walk and a stolen base. Britt, Butler and Scott each added two hits, while Britt had a run and two RBIs.

As a team, the Express finished 15-for-30 with 10 runs, eight RBIs, four doubles, one home run, two walks and two stolen bases against CCRI.

Michelle Sylvestre took the loss for CCRI. Her final line included 5.1 innings, 15 hits, 10 runs (nine earned), two walks and one strikeout. It was her first loss this season.

Notes

The Express improved to 20-2 overall with their two wins today. No. 28 CCRI fell to 19-6 and No. 17 Mercyhurst NE fell to 30-7.

Owens will take on Mercyhurst NE at 10 a.m. tomorrow, followed by a 12 p.m. game against CCRI, and a 3 p.m. game against Monroe Community College.

Iacoangeli improved her team-high batting average to .533 with team-highs in stolen bases (29), runs (25) and hits (32). Hollister has a team-high 24 RBIs to go with her .450 average. She also has a team-high four home runs now.

Thompson took over the team lead in triples and now has four this year.