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First place Point Park takes one of two from Notre Dame, will await playoff seed

April 28, 2011

Zelenka 2010 
Kristen Zelenka threw a 1-hit shutout and carried a perfect game through 6.2 innings.

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KENNEDY TWP., Pa. -- Kristen Zelenka tossed a one-hit shutout, carried a perfect game through the first 6.2 innings, and led Point Park University to a 1-0 victory in the first game of an American Mideast Conference softball doubleheader with visiting Notre Dame (OH) Thursday at Lind Field.

Point Park (21-16, 10-4 AMC) put together a late rally with five runs in the bottom of the seventh of the nightcap, but its comeback came up short as Notre Dame (OH) (15-19, 8-4 AMC) won, 7-5.

Point Park had a chance to wrap up the AMC regular season championship with two wins Thursday, but it will have to await the results of upcoming conference games to see if they get that honor.

At 10-4 in the AMC, Point Park is in first place and assured a spot in next week's playoffs. The Pioneers are done with the regular season and hold a two-game lead over Notre Dame (OH) (8-4 AMC). The Falcons close their AMC slate with two games Friday at Mt. Vernon Nazarene (3-7 AMC).

Point Park is still alive to be the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, a distinction that would make it the host team for the AMC Tournament May 4-6. There are two teams that could catch Point Park in the standings -- Notre Dame (OH) and Cedarville (7-4 AMC). If either of both of those teams were to get to 10 conference wins, the tiebreaker system would kick in.

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition followed by results versus the top teams in the conference. The last tiebreaker is a coin flip. The conference tournament is a four-team, double-elimination event.

In Thursday's opener, Zelenka was masterful, and the senior right-hander from Washington, Pa., had perhaps the best outing of her career. A Trinity High School product, Zelenka retired the first 20 batters she faced and was one out away from putting together seven perfect innings. But even if Zelenka would've got out of the seventh unscathed, the game would not have been over since the score was still 0-0.

Notre Dame's Mallory Harder drew a walk with two outs in the top of the seventh to break up the perfect game, and the next batter, Christine Kasodonis, broke up the no-hitter with a base hit to right-center. But Zelenka regrouped and kept the one-hit shutout in tack by stranding both runners.

In the bottom of the frame, Point Park finally broke through versus Notre Dame starter Kim Lennox. Lennox, who took the loss in 6.2 innings, hit Amanda Ardinger to start the Point Park seventh. With two outs, Ardinger scooted to second on a wild pitch. Sara Guffey, Zelenka's battery mate and a fellow Trinity alum, grounded a base hit up the middle, and Ardinger raced home for the game's only run.

Lennox gave up one run on six hits, struck out three and walked none. Olivia Sorce had two of Point Park's six hits.

As for Zelenka, she had only three batted balls leave the infield against her. One was Kasidonis' single to the wall in right-center and the other two were high fly balls that outfielders easily got under. She struck out five, walked one and improved to 7-2 on the year and 6-0 in AMC play.

The second game started out as a pitcher's duel just like the opener, but the offense came around midway through. Notre Dame was clinging to a 1-0 lead the first five innings before touching Point Park reliever Lindsey Inzana for a couple of insurance runs and a 3-0 lead in the sixth.

The Falcons tacked on four more runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-0 lead before Point Park finally got some key hits in its last time at bat. The Pioneers, who left 13 runners on base, came up empty time and again with chances to score the first six innings to fall behind. But in the seventh, Point Park got five runs on five hits and got the tying run to the plate with two outs.

Julie Campbell, who was 3 for 4, got the rally going with an RBI single, and that was followed by two-out RBI hits from Larissa Banks, Lindsey Pesanka and Nichelle Navarro. Navarro's base hit brought home two runs to cut it to 7-5, but the comeback ended after that.

Point Park ended up with 12 hits, nine of which came against Notre Dame starter Christine Camp. Camp pitched into the seventh inning with seven strikeouts, three walks and three runs.

Pesanka, Banks and Teresa Davis each had two hits to join Campbell as hitting leaders. The last four in the Point Park order -- Campbell, Danielle Dorunda, Davis and Banks -- were a combined 8 for 13. That group put together bases-loaded situations the first two times it came up, but the Pioneers did not get anything to show for it.

Kelsey Robertson got the game-two start for Point Park and was the tough-luck loser. Robertson (5-5) went four innings and exited the game trailing, 1-0. She gave up six hits in four innings, struck out two and walked one.