Harkins' no-hitter helps BSC take two games from Hendrix

Taylor Harkins (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)
Taylor Harkins (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Propelled by a pair of dominant pitching performances, including a no-hitter from freshman Taylor Harkins, and powered by an almost perfect day at the dish from sophomore Maddie Ridgway, the Birmingham-Southern softball team claimed the first two games of the Southern Athletic Association series against Hendrix, 3-1 and 6-0, Saturday afternoon at BSC Softball Park.

BSC improves to a conference-best mark of 16-2, and 19-13 on the season overall. Hendrix fell to 7-8 in league play and 13-15 overall.

The Panthers got on the board in the first inning of the first game after Ridgway led off with a single to center field. Junior Bethany Fronk moved Ridgway into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. Junior Alyssa Statham's double to right-center that scored Ridgway was the first of her game-high two RBI. BSC padded their lead with another run in the third when a pair of errors scored junior Joanna Jernigan.

With a 2-1 lead in the fifth, the Panthers staged a two-out rally to tack on another run. A single to left and stolen base from Fronk gave Statham another RBI opportunity. The junior laced another double to right-center to score Fronk.

In the circle for the Panthers, Fronk (10-9) scattered five hits in her complete-game victory, while ringing up seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

BSC continued to roll in game two, both at the plate and in the circle. As in game one, the Panthers lit up the scoreboard in the first inning to claim an early 2-0 lead. Also as in game one, it was the combination of Statham bringing home Fronk. The difference this time around was Fronk reached base courtesy of a walk and was brought home not on a Statham home run. The big fly to left-center, which hit the netting in front of BSC's scoreboard, was her first of the season.

The two runs proved to be more than enough run support for Harkins as her no-hitter, the first of her collegiate career, was two errors short of a perfect game. The masterpiece from Harkins moved her record to 9-4 and lowered her ERA to 1.39. It was the first no-hitter for BSC since March 30, 2013, when then-freshman Deanna Creps recorded a five-inning perfect game against Sewanee, and it was the first seven-inning no-hitter since April 23, 2003, when BSC had two seven-inning no-hitters against Jackson State University.

After three scoreless innings, the Panthers extended their lead with three more runs in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two outs, junior Hannah Harris hit a single to right to score Fronk and Ridgway. A throwing error on the next play brought home the final Panther run of the inning. In the sixth, a Ridgway double to left center that plated Jernigan was the final run of the Panther's 6-0 win.

Ridgway was 5-7 at the plate in the two games, and Statham led the Panthers with four RBI on the day.

The Panthers return to action tomorrow afternoon to complete the series with Hendrix with a doubleheader beginning at noon.