Softball wins two on opening day of SAA Championship

Bethany Fronk (photo by Cari Dean)
Bethany Fronk (photo by Cari Dean)

DANVILLE, Ky.--Two complete games - 20 innings total - from sophomore pitcher Bethany Fronk helped the third-seeded Birmingham-Southern softball team pick up two wins to stay in the winner's bracket today on day one of the 2013 Southern Athletic Association Softball Championship, hosted by Centre College in Danville, Ky. The Panthers defeated sixth-seeded Hendrix, 2-1, in 13 innings, and then upset second-seeded Rhodes, 3-1, in the final game of the day.

BSC (26-16) moves on to face fifth-seeded Millsaps tomorrow at 4 p.m. The Majors pulled two upsets today, downing No. 4 Centre, 10-5, and then top-seeded Berry, 2-0.

In the 13-inning stretch against Hendrix today, sophomore Taylor Bassett walked seven times, a new NCAA single-game record. The previous record of six was set in 1989 by Kris Malone of Aurora University.

The Warriors got on the board in the top of the first of game one, and held the 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth when Fronk scored on a muffed Hendrix throw to tie it up. The tie stood until the bottom of the 13th inning, when Fronk led off with a single, followed by Bassett's seventh walk and a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Alyssa Statham to move runners to second and third. Senior Brittany Berkopec then singled to first base to load the bases. Fronk then scored on a throwing error by the Hendrix shortstop on a fielder's choice by freshman Katelyn Murray, ending the game and giving BSC the 2-1 victory.

The Panthers recorded 13 hits, led by Fronk who was 3-6. Bassett walked in all seven of her plate appearances. Fronk also threw the complete game, giving up six hits and one earned run with eight strikeouts.

BSC again found itself down 1-0 after the first inning in game two as Rhodes scored in the bottom of the first, but the Panthers rallied in the top of the third, scoring all three of their runs. After senior Chelsea Fernandez led off with a single, sophomore Joanna Jernigan doubled down the left-field line to plate Fernandez. A single off the bat of senior Danielle Rucker put Jernigan at third, and a Statham walk loaded the bases with one out. A Berkopec sac-fly brought Jernigan home after that to put BSC up 2-1, and Rucker advanced to third on a Hendrix error. Fronk then singled up the middle for an RBI to score Rucker and put the Panthers up 3-1. Neither team would cross home plate again after that, and BSC picked up the 3-1 victory.

Rucker led BSC at the plate, going 2-3 with two of BSC's six hits. Fronk moved to 20-13 on the year after pitching yet another complete game, giving up six hits and one earned run in seven innings of work while striking out seven Lynx batters.