May 10, 2013

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AMHERST, Mass. - Liz Mendez came out of the bullpen to strike out eight in 6.2 innings and Brandi Harkness hit a 3-run home run to lift No. 1 seed Saint Joseph's past No. 3 seed Temple, 6-3, in an elimination game at the 2013 Atlantic 10 Softball Championship at Sortino Field Friday.

With the win, SJU (36-9-1) advances to face No. 2 seed Fordham in the championship game on Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Temple (32-26) is eliminated from the championship.

Mendez, who threw five of shutout relief in the Hawks' loss to Fordham earlier in the day, relieved A-10 Pitcher of the Year Taryn Ashway in today's third game after she had allowed two runs over just four batters. Mendez retired eight of her first nine Owls and surrendered just one unearned run. In three appearances this week, she has struck out 16 in 16 innings, while scattering seven hits. She improved to 10-5 on the year and 2-0 in the tourney.

Dana Parks went 3-for-4 and Nicole Palase had two hits for SJU. Sarah Yoos scored twice.

Temple starter Kelsey Dominik (15-8) lasted 3.2 innings and gave up five runs on five hits. She also led the Owls at the plate with two hits.

Temple used the momentum from its win of Saint Louis in the preceding game to post a pair of runs in the first inning. Sarah Prezioso was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, stole second and scored on Steph Pasquale's screamer into the bleachers in left, giving the Owls a 2-0 edge. For Pasquale, it was her 15th of the year and tied her for the team lead.

An inning later, it was the Hawks' turn to play long ball as Harkness followed a Yoos single and Rochelle Christman walk with a home run - her second of the season - that bounced off the top of the padding in left center.

The Owls tied it at 3-3 in the fourth with an unearned run as a result of a throwing error by Mendez. Lacey McKeon hit a two-out ball back to the circle but Mendez's throw to first was in the dirt and rolled into foul territory, allowing Devynne Nelons to score from third.

SJU took the lead for good with Maria Ficca's RBI single to left in the bottom of the fourth. Parks hit a slow roller to the right side that Leah Lucas flipped over Dominik's glove at first and rolled into foul ground, allowing Kortmann and Ficca to stretch the lead to 6-3.

The Owls nearly answered in the fifth but left the bases loaded and managed just one walk over the final two innings.