Wed, May. 2, 2012 - [Softball]
JACKSON, Tenn. - For four and a half innings, it looked like the second-seeded Freed-Hardeman Lady Lions were on the brink of an upset at the hands of seventh-seeded Bethel (Tenn.) University in the opening round of the 2012 TranSouth Conference Softball Championships.
By the end of the fifth inning, the outlook was quite different.
FHU scored nine times in the fifth, turning a four-run deficit into a five-run lead, and went on to a 10-6 win over the Lady Wildcats to advance to the winners' bracket semifinals.
Bethel (10-23) did what few teams have done this season - it got to Freed-Hardeman starter Sarah Elizabeth Cousar. BU scored twice in the first, added another in the fourth, and took a 5-1 lead in the top of the fifth on a two-run home run by Shelby Evans.
Meanwhile, the Lady Lions saw several hard-hit balls go right at Bethel defenders, and Sydney McMillin was able to keep FHU off the board until Kamara Trice's single in the fourth scored Mercedes Norfork.
The game changed in the bottom of the fifth when Shelby Cummings reached base on a dropped fly ball by Bethel's Ashley Denfip to lead off the inning. She was forced out on a grounder to shortstop by Cousar, but Bethel did not record another out for the next nine batters and went through three pitchers in the process.
Amber Vansandt and Bailey Morgan had back-to-back RBI singles, the second of which chased McMillin. Trice then drew a bases-loaded walk from new pitcher Ericca McCormic and Natalie Nelson followed with a two-run single.
Summer Cole's double off the top of the right-center field fence plated two more runs before the final run of the inning scored when Amanda Renfroe could not come up with a ground ball by Brittany Yates allowing Cole to come home from third.
Bethel added a final run on a solo home run by McMillin in the seventh.
Yates, Vansandt and Morgan each had two hits for FHU (27-19), which won its eighth straight game. Trice, Nelson and Cole each had two RBI hitting out of the last three spots in the order.
Despite a rough outing, Cousar (20-5) won her 20th game of the season to become the first Lady Lion pitcher to 20 wins since Tarrah Tucker in 2008.
FHU advances to face Mid-Continent (Ky.) University on Thursday at 6:00 PM. MCU upset third-seeded Martin Methodist (Tenn.) College in the first round.