April 29, 2012

Panthers win SCAC Softball Championship with 10th-inning walk-off home run

JACKSON, Tenn.—A two-run homerun by freshman Taylor Bassett in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted the Birmingham-Southern softball team to a 3-1 win over Trinity in the SCAC Championship game, Sunday afternoon in Jackson, Tenn.

The Panthers, who were making their first-ever SCAC post-season appearance, also defeated Trinity earlier today, 5-2, after falling into the loser's bracket yesterday with a 6-5 loss to the Tigers. BSC now stands at 34-9 on the season, while Trinity falls to 28-14.

BSC receives the SCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA post-season, with regional action beginning on May 10.

In game one today, Trinity scored single runs in the bottom of the first and second innings and held BSC scoreless until the top of the fifth, when an RBI single from junior Brittany Berkopec plated freshman Joanna Jernigan to put the Panthers on the board.

In the top of the sixth, with two outs and a runner on second courtesy of a walk and a sac-bunt by Bassett, an RBI double by junior Danielle Rucker tied things up 2-2. Rucker then scored on an error to put BSC up 3-2, and Jernigan, who reached on the previous error, advanced to second on a single by senior Ashley Bice and then scored on another Trinity error. An RBI single from freshman Bethany Fronk brought Bice across the plate after that, putting the Panthers up 5-2.

BSC held the Tigers scoreless in the bottom of the sixth and seventh to force game 11 of the championship.

The Panthers recorded 10 hits, led by Bice and senior Ronni Ferris with two apiece. Trinity had four hits.

Ferris also threw the complete game, moving to 13-5 on the season after recording two strikeouts and giving up four hits and two earned runs.

The second championship game was a 10-inning pitcher's duel, with BSC scoring a single run in the bottom of the third on a passed ball and holding Trinity scoreless until the top of the seventh, when the Tigers also scored a single run.

Trinity did not record any hits in extra innings, but had a chance to score in the top of the 10th when the international tie-breaker rule went into effect, which places a runner on second base to start the inning. A sac-bunt sent the runner to third, but Fronk struck out two of the next three batters to end Trinity's at-bat.

In the bottom of the 10th, freshman Erin Lopez placed on second and sophomore Jordan Allen came in to run for her. Ferris sac-bunted to put Allen on third, and Bassett stepped up to the plate after that and sent the ball over the wall on an 0-1 count. It was her sixth homerun of the season, and ended the game to give BSC the SCAC title.

Berkopec was 2-4 at the plate to lead BSC. The Panthers recorded five total hits, while the Tigers had four.

Fronk pitched all 10 innings, moving to 15-3 on the season after striking out eight Tigers and giving up four hits and no earned runs.