PLATTSBURGH -- Plattsburgh State needed to sweep Oneonta on Thursday, but coach Sean Cotter had bigger concerns, too.

Cotter said he has questioned his team's emotional commitment, and after a disappointing loss to New Paltz Wednesday, he was looking for more intensity.

The Cardinals beat the Red Dragons, 4-2 and 8-0, at the Plattsburgh State Softball Complex, and Cotter was happier with the effort.

"It wasn't just that we lost yesterday," Cotter said. "I've been concerned with this group for really a long time that we just had some kids who just weren't buying into the emotional side of what it takes to win at a high level. We challenged them with that this morning. And they responded."

But he knows the real test comes today. The Cardinals (24-8, 12-2 SUNYAC) take on Cortland this afternoon in a double header that could be pivotal in the race for the SUNY Athletic Conference regular-season title. The top team will host next week's conference tournament.

Cortland (25-7, 14-0) leads the conference, and Plattsburgh State is tied for second and needs a sweep to catch up. If the two teams finished the regular season tied, the first tiebreaker would be head-to-head play.

Andrea Stupp had five hits, including a home run, and four RBI to lead the Cardinals Thursday, and after a tough outing the day before, pitcher Jaclyn Leitze bounced back with a win and a save.

Plattsburgh State took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the first game. In the third, Danielle Gjergji's triple brought in a run, and the Cardinals added another before the inning ended. Stupp hit her fourth homer of the season in the fourth inning for a 4-0 advantage.

Oneonta (8-22, 4-10) put two runs on the board in the sixth when Malorie Carrington bounced a ball off the outfield fence for a two-RBI double.

Jennifer Nescio and Melissa Luciano each had two hits for Plattsburgh State, and Stephanie Zweig gave up seven hits in six innings while striking out nine. Leitze pitched the seventh, striking out three and earning her first save of the season.

Oneonta's Kayla Rought had two strikeouts and 11 hits allowed.

In the second game, Shannon Connors put one over the left-center fence in the second, and then Stupp knocked in Kirby Davids. Ashley Napear's double scored one for a 3-0 lead in the third.

Davids hit an RBI double in the sixth, and the Cardinals doubled their lead in the seventh. Gjergji drove in a run with a line drive, and Stupp followed that by knocking in two. Davids came up next and smacked one to the fence to bring in another run and give the Cardinals an 8-0 lead.

Davids finished 3-for-3 with three RBI, and Stupp and Gjergji were both 3-for-4. Leitze went the distance, allowing just two hits and striking out seven.

"I guess we kind of learned from our mistakes yesterday," Davids, a junior shortstop, said. "We came out firing a little more. We had definitely more aggression and urgency today to take two. This is our field, so we didn't want to let anyone beat us again on our field."

Cortland comes in on a 14-game winning streak. The Red Dragons are the top-scoring team in the conference and has the most home runs with 30. Senior shortshop Jamie Neuner was named the SUNYAC Player of the Week last week. She's hitting .447, which his second in the conference behind Plattsburgh State's Nescio.

"We're very similar," Cotter said. "Their runs are about the same as ours, and their batting average is about the same as ours. We maybe feel our pitching's a little bit better, and maybe they feel their defense is a little bit better. And when I say little, it's by minute amounts. It's pretty much, I think, we're even teams. So it's just going to come down to probably who plays better (today).

"Hopefully we'll handle their intensity, because I know they've been looking forward to this for a year."

Plattsburgh State has beaten Cortland in their last four meetings. The Cardinals swept the Red Dragons in Cortland last season and then edged them, 4-3, in 10 innings in the SUNYAC Tournament championship game in Plattsburgh.

Davids said she's pretty sure the Red Dragons remember that one.

"They'll have it at the front of their minds," she said. "They're out to get us. But that's what we love. That's our motivation."

Plattsburgh State 4, Oneonta 2

Oneonta000 002 0 -- 2 8 1

Plattsburgh State012 100 X -- 4 11 2

Rought, McGrath (6) and Risco. Zweig, Leitze (7) and Burek. WP- Zweig. S- Leitze. LP- Rought. 2B- Carrington (O), Blood (PSU). 3B- Gjergji (PSU). HR- Stupp (PSU).

Plattsburgh State 8, Oneonta 0

Plattsburgh State021 001 4 -- 8 12 0

Oneonta000 000 0 -- 0 2 2

Leitze and Luciano. McGrath, Burkart (7) and Risco. WP- Leitze. LP- McGrath. 2B- Napear (PSU), Gjergji (PSU), Davids (PSU). HR- Connors (PSU).

clewis@pressrepublican.com

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