BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College sophomore Josie Novak recorded a career-high and school record 16 strikeouts in the opener, and she added five more strikeouts in a relief appearance to earn both victories in the circle as the No. 19 Greyhounds ran their winning streak to 16 with a non-conference sweep of Eastern University, 5-1 and 9-5, at Blue & Grey Field Thursday.
The Hounds, now 27-3 overall, have swept their last eight doubleheaders. Moravian is also ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region in first NCAA Division III Regional Rankings of 2016 released Thursday, and the squad has already clinched the top spot in the Landmark Conference Tournament.
Novak, now 15-1 on the season after her two wins, struck out 11 of the first 12 outs in the opener as she struck out the side in the first, third and fourth innings. With her final strikeout to end the game, Novak passed two-time All-American Meagan Hennessy's '06 school mark of 15 strikeouts, a standard the Hennessey hit twice in her career. Novak is now 34-7 in the circle in her career, and she is sixth in school history with 294 strikeouts.
"You can't ask for anything more from your pitcher with 16 strikeouts as she was mowing them down," commented Head Coach John Byrne. "We scored enough to win but we struggled a little bit. We're still not making the adjustments we need too at the plate. It's good to get two wins but we need to play better as we head into the final leg of the season."
The Blue and Grey took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Markovic and DeMarco hit back-to-back doubles. Moravian added four runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead to 5-0. Freshman third baseman Madison Shaneberger led off with a single and scored on an RBI double by freshman center fielder Kat Spilman. The Hounds picked up a run on an RBI grounder by junior designated player Victoria Conner, and Moravian scored again on an RBI single by Markovic. DeMarco finished off the inning with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Eastern would score once in the top of the fifth but Novak then struck out five of the final seven outs including the last two batters of the game to set the record.
The Greyhounds pounded out 15 hits in the nightcap with Spilman going 3-for-3 with five RBIs, a homer and a double. DeMarco and junior left fielder Julie Siragusa were both 3-for-4 while Markovic and senior right fielder Mary Schlosbon were both 2-for-3 and freshman shortstop Kaela Kane was 2-for-4.
"Kat was dropping her hands the first game, and the last couple of games actually," stated Byrne. "She finally got on top of the ball and was hitting line drives in the second game and hit the ball hard. When she hits it hard, the ball goes with the pop that she has in her bat. It was good to see along with Julia DeMarco hitting the ball hard. We were a little better at the plate in the second game."
Moravian fell behind 2-0 when Eastern scored twice in the top of the second inning but the Hounds answered with a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Markovic. The Eagles added two more runs in the top of the third inning to push the lead to 4-1.
The Greyhounds scored four times in the bottom of the third to take a 5-4 lead. Spilman tied the game with her fifth home run of the season, a three-run shot to straight away center field. Siragusa followed with a triple and raced home on an RBI sacrifice fly from sophomore catcher Janae Matos for the lead.
Moravian added three more runs in the fourth inning to push its advantage to 8-4. Schlosbon led off with a single and scored from first base on an RBI double down the left field line off of DeMarco's bat. Spilman would connect on an RBI double with two outs to chase DeMarco home, and Siragusa followed with an RBI double, her team-leading 18th double of the season to extend her school record for doubles in a year.
Eastern scored a run in the top of the fifth inning before the Greyhounds plated the final run in the bottom of the sixth when Spilman hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score DeMarco for the third time in the game.
Sophomore Amanda Carisone started in the circle in the second game for Moravian, and she had four strikeouts in 2.2 innings of action.
The Greyhounds are scheduled to return to action on Saturday, April 23 when the team closes out its 2016 Landmark Conference regular season with a doubleheader at Juniata College beginning at 1:00 p.m.