SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – No. 3 seed Augustana College softball hit seven home runs in a 9-7 win over No. 6 seed Minnesota Duluth in its first game of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament on Thursday at Sherman Park.
Augustana, the NSIC's leader in home runs during the conference season, hit a season-high seven home runs as a team, getting two each from Caitlin Nichol, Sarah Kennedy and Jenelle Trautmann. Nichol finished the game going 2 for 3 with three RBI and three runs scored. Kennedy finished 2 for 3 with two runs scored and three RBI and Trautmann finished 2 for 3 with two solo home runs. Lindsay Spanton went 2 for 3 for the Vikings with a double and a solo home run.
Trautmann improved to 25-5 on the season with the win in the circle, matching her career-high for wins in a season. Trautmann finished the game giving up six runs on seven hits while striking out four batters. Carley Pickett threw the final three innings for the Vikings giving up just one run on two hits while saving her eighth game of the season. With the save, Pickett is now the leads all of Division II with eight saves.
Sami Schnyder got the big hit for UMD in the game hitting a grand slam in the top of the second inning. Schnyder was 3 for 4 for the Bulldogs with a home run and four RBI. Dalyce Gustafson was 2 for 3 with two home runs and three RBI and two runs scored.
The Vikings jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning getting back-to-back home runs from Kennedy and Trautmann. Nichol led off the game getting hit by a pitch but stayed at first base after Mackenzie Alstott popped out on a bunt attempt. Nichol didn't have to work hard to come around to score as Kennedy hit her first run of the game to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead. Four pitches later, Augustana went ahead 3-0 on a solo home run by Trautmann.
Minnesota Duluth answered right back in the top of the second inning to take a 4-3 lead after a two-out grand slam home run by Schnyder. The Vikings didn't waste any time tying the game as Nichol came up with a clutch two-out solo home run in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 4-4.
Trautmann held the Bulldogs off the board in the top of the third inning and the Vikings took their second lead of the game in the home half of the inning when Spanton sent a solo shot to center field giving Augustana a 5-4 lead.
The home runs kept coming in the top of the fourth inning as Minnesota Duluth got a lead-off single a two-run home run from Gustafson to put the Bulldogs in front 6-5. The Vikings answered right back in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run home run of their own, Nichol's second of the game, to make the score 7-6.
Pickett came in to pitch for the Vikings in the top of the fifth inning and mowed down the Bulldogs in order in her first inning of work. Kennedy gave Augustana a two-run lead with her second home run of the game to lead off the fifth inning and Trautmann welcomed a new pitcher with her second home run of the game to put the Vikings in front 9-6.
The trend continued in the top of the sixth inning with Gustafson hitting her second home run of the day, this time a solo shot with two outs in the top of the sixth to make the score 9-7. Pickett got two quick outs in the top of the seventh inning before Ashley Lewis beat out an infield single to bring the game tying run to the plate. Pickett finished the job herself getting a ground out for the final out of the game.
Augustana, ranked fourth in the NCAA Central Region and 25th in the country, return to action in the NSIC Softball Tournament and will take on the winner of the Winona State and University of Mary game being played today. The Vikings will play at 12 p.m. on Field B at Sherman Park.
Courtesy: Augustana Tim Evans