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Softball splits conference doubleheader with Berry

Bethany Fronk (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--The Birmingham-Southern softball team split a doubleheader with visiting Berry College Saturday afternoon at the BSC Softball Park in a conference tilt featuring the top two teams in the Southern Athletic Association.

BSC earned the game one victory 6-1, then fell in the second game 2-0. Saturday's split keeps Birmingham-Southern one game ahead of Berry in the loss column and atop the conference standings. The Panthers are now 23-11 on the season and 14-4 in the conference. Berry moves to 23-9 overall and 15-5 in SAA play.

In game one, both teams struggled offensively out of the gate as only one batter would reach third base in the game's first five innings. The only exception came in the Panther half of the third when a Berry fielding error scored senior Danielle Rucker to give BSC a one-run advantage they would hold until Panther bats came alive in the bottom of the sixth when BSC would tack on five more runs.

After a lead-off single by sophomore Taylor Bassett and a strikeout to put up one out, freshman Katelyn Murray doubled to left-center to bring Bassett home. After another out, senior Chelsea Fernandez singled and advanced to second on the throw, sending Murray to third, and Rucker RBI singled up the middle to plate both Murray and Fernandez and put the Panthers up 4-0. Sophomore Joanna Jernigan then RBI singled to left field to bring Rucker home. After a pitching change by the Vikings, sophomore Bethany Fronk hit yet another RBI single to plate Jernigan and put BSC up 5-0.

The Vikings scored their only run of the game in the top of the seventh, scoring on a dropped fly ball.

Fronk went the distance in the circle to move to 18-8 on the season, giving up five hits and no earned runs. The Panthers recorded nine total hits.

Game two was a pitcher's duel, with the only runs of the game coming in the top of the fourth on a home run and an RBI single to put Berry up 2-0 for the shutout win.

Fronk threw the complete game again to drop her record to 18-9. She allowed seven hits and two earned runs with four strikeouts. Panther batters collected only four hits.

The four-game series will conclude tomorrow with a noon doubleheader. It will be Senior Day for the Panthers, with Brittany Berkopec, Chelsea Fernandez, and Danielle Rucker being honored prior to the game.