Seventh-seeded South Dakota defeats second-seeded Augustana, 6-3 Senior Angela Palma keyed a 6-3 come-from-behind win by seventh-seeded South Dakota (21-40) over second-seeded Augustana (25-17-1) in first-round action at the North Central Conference Tournament at the USD Softball Fields in Vermillion.
In other first round action, MSU, Mankato was a 12-6 winner over Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud edged North Dakota, 2-1, in eight innings.
League opponents might start feeling a bit eerie when they match up with a Coyote team seeded seventh in a conference tournament. Earlier this year, the Coyote women's basketball team was seventh-seeded and proceeded to defeat second-seeded Minne- sota-Duluth in a first round game. That band of Coyotes advanced to the league title game.
On Friday afternoon, the Coyote softball team shook off a season of frustrating losses with its come-from-behind win over Augustana. A two-run double by USD junior centerfielder Sarah Wrage and a two-run home run by Palma were key plays.
in the seventh inning as the Coyotes rallied for four runs over Augustana ace and league MVP Katie Krauth.
With the win, USD snapped a four-game losing streak to Augustana, who had swept the Coyotes in a pair of doubleheaders during the regular season.
While Augustana collected 10 hits off Palma, the two-time All-NCC player made the big pitch when necessary. For awhile it looked as if Palma might take another hard-luck defeat. After Palma and Krauth pitched shutout ball for three innings, the Vikings took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on two runs on three hits, included one that bounced off second-base and produced a run for Augustana.
USD answered with a run in the top of the fifth inning. After Alisha Yowell reached on an error, Nicole Jones moved her to second on a bunt single. Both runners advanced a base on freshman Abby Poulter's sacrifice bunt and Yowell scored on an RBI groundout by freshman Krystal Kirwan.
The Vikings built a 3-1 lead when Kelsey Rossow's infield hit scored Kristi Villar, who had opened the inning with a single to centerfield and then stole second base. USD cut the deficit to 3-2 with the help of an Augustana fielding miscue. Wrage reached on a throwing error and advanced to second on Palma's sacrifice bunt. Wrage took third on a wild pitched and scored on a passed ball by Augustana.
Augustana committed five errors, including one in the top of the seventh inning which allowed Poulter to reach base with one out. Kirwan singled to advance Poulter to second base. One out later, Wrage hit a 3-2 pitch over the centerfielder's head for a double which scored both Poulter and Kirwan. Then, Palma helped her own cause with a home run off Krauth to centerfield.
In the bottom of the seventh, Augustana mounted a threat as Alyssa Tabbert and Ashley Minish opened with base hits. After Villar lined out to second base, Krauth lined out to Starcevich, who flipped the ball to second baseman Megan Wells for a game-ending double play.
Palma, who improved to 9-16 on the season, allowed 10 hits and three runs while recording a strikeout and a walk. Krauth, whose record dropped to 14-8, allowed four hits and six unearned runs in seven innings of work. She had eight strikeouts and three walks.