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Panthers fall to No. 13 Redlands in NCAA Softball Regional, 6-4

TYLER, Texas—Making its first-ever NCAA post-season appearance, the Birmingham-Southern softball team fell to No. 13 Redlands, 6-4, in game two of the UT Tyler Regional today in Tyler, Texas. BSC will play tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the elimination game, taking on either No. 4 Pacific Lutheran or in-state rival Huntingdon. A loss will send the Panthers home, while a win keeps them alive to play at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.

BSC, the sixth seed in the regional, falls to 34-10 with the loss, while the Bulldogs, the third seed, move to 32-11.

Redlands got on the board in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Amanda Lievanos to go up 1-0.

Freshman Taylor Bassett then led off the second inning in dramatic fashion with a home run to tie it up, 1-1. Bassett hit the game-winning walk-off home run to beat Trinity and win the SCAC Championship on April 29.

Senior Ronni Ferris then singled, and junior Chelsea Fernandez hit a sacrifice bunt to move Ferris to second. After that, junior Danielle Rucker reached second on a Redlands error, which also allowed Ferris to score, putting BSC up 2-1. Freshman Joanna Jernigan then reached on another error in the next at-bat, and Rucker went to third. Jernigan stole second to put runners on second and third, followed by the second out of the inning, a foul-out by senior Ashley Bice. Fronk then stepped up and singled to right, bringing Rucker across the plate for a BSC 3-1 lead.

The Bulldogs took back the lead in the bottom of the second, scoring four runs to prompt a pitching change for BSC, trading Ferris for Fronk. The third inning was scoreless, but Fernandez led off the top of the fourth with a single followed by a foul-out by Rucker and Fernandez stealing second. Jernigan walked and Bice fouled out for the Panthers' second out of the inning, and Fronk singled up the middle to plate Fernandez and cut the Bulldog lead to 5-4.

An RBI single by Molly Duran in the bottom of the fifth put Redlands up 6-4. BSC left two runners on base in the top of the sixth but wasn't able to score, and had another chance in the top of the seventh. Freshman Erin Lopez singled to lead off the inning, as did Bassett to put runners on first and second. A fielder's choice from Ferris after that put runners on first and third with one out, and Fernandez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rucker fouled out in the next at-bat when Bulldogs catcher Kai Masutani made an impressive run to catch the popped up ball, and Jernigan grounded out to end the game.

Redlands recorded 12 hits to BSC's eight but also committed three errors while the Panthers had none. Fronk led BSC at the plate, going 3-4 with two RBI. Four different Bulldogs recorded two hits each, while Rikki Scates led with two RBI.

Fronk started in the circle and took the loss, falling to 15-4 on the year. She threw 1.2 innings and allowed six hits and five earned runs. Ferris came in for the final 4.1 innings, giving up six hits and one earned run with three strikeouts. Kayla Uphold threw the complete game for Redlands, allowing eight hits and two earned runs with no Panther strikeouts.