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Fronk becomes all-time wins leader as softball splits at Emory 3n2 Classic

Bethany Fronk (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)
Bethany Fronk (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

ATLANTA, Ga.—Picking up the win in the second game today for Birmingham-Southern, senior pitcher Bethany Fronk became BSC's all-time wins leader with her 55th career victory. The Panthers dropped the first game today to 16-ranked host Emory, 3-2 in eight innings, before rallying to defeat Roanoke 10-2 in six innings at Cooper Field in Atlanta, Ga.

The Panthers moved to 2-2, while Emory moved to 6-0 and Roanoke fell to 0-2.

Game one featured a pair of 2014 conference champions as BSC faced off against defending University Athletic Association champion Emory. The contest also featured a pair of undefeated pitchers on the young season dueling against each other in the circle. The two hurlers, sophomore Taylor Harkins for BSC and Brittany File for Emory, did not disappoint, as the two only yielded a combined seven hits.

The Panthers scored first in the top of the fourth when senior Alyssa Statham opened the frame with a walk and, two batters later, came home off a double from sophomore Torrie Garner. Emory quickly answered an inning later to tie the game at 1-1. The score would remain tied through seven, forcing extra innings to be played under the international tie breaker rule, which places a runner on second to start each inning.

In the BSC half of the eighth, with junior Maddie Ridgway starting on second, the Panthers wasted no time manufacturing a run with a pair of sacrifices that brought Ridgway home and earned the Panthers a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. With their own runner starting on second, the host Eagles capitalized on a pair of BSC errors to score two runs and take the game 3-2.

Harkins (1-1) struck out two batters and walked two, while File (3-0) struck out 12 and walked six in the opener.

In game two, the Panthers rode a record-setting pitching performance from senior Bethany Fronk and a balanced offensive attack in which every Panther either earned a hit, got on base, or scored a run to earn the win over Roanoke.

BSC struck first when Statham earned the first of her game-high two RBI, an honor she would share with Garner and senior Taylor Bassett. With Fronk on second after a single down the left field line and a stolen base, Statham's double to the gap in left center gave the Panthers the early 1-0 lead.

A two-out rally in the third put up a pair of runs for BSC when a Garner double scored freshman Micaela Beck from first. Garner then scored herself after she advanced on the throw for a 3-0 lead.

The Panthers continued to provide run support for Fronk in the fourth with a six-run explosion. Sophomore Alex Skene opened the inning with a walk and proceeded to take second base when senior Joanna Jernigan followed her with a single up the middle. A walk to Ridgway loaded the bases and set the stage for BSC to take advantage of Roanoke miscues. An error with Fronk at the plate plated Skene, then with the bases loaded again a walk to Statham scored Jernigan, and another error with Beck at bat brought home Fronk and Ridgway. Bassett wrapped up the scoring with a double to left that brought home Beck and Statham.

BSC carried a 9-2 advantage into the sixth when a single from sophomore Amanda Ballew scored Beck to earn the 10-2 lead and bring the mercy rule into play. Needing to hold a lead of at least eight runs after five innings to end the game early, Fronk retired the side in order with a fly out and a pair of ground outs to preserve the eight-run lead and end the game after six.

The complete-game performance for Fronk (1-1) was the 55th of her career, putting her atop the program's all-time wins list.

The Panthers return to Cooper Field tomorrow to again face Roanoke and Emory at 9 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET.