USD softball wins opener at Summit League Championship


FARGO, N.D. (USD) — Alyssa Fernandez and Jessica Rogers both went deep and pitcher Dustie Durham took a shutout into the final inning of South Dakota’s 5-1 win against Purdue Fort Wayne Thursday at the Summit League Tournament hosted by North Dakota State.

The second-seeded Coyotes (32-24) advance in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament to face top-seeded North Dakota State Friday at 1 p.m. The Bison topped fourth-seeded South Dakota State 6-3 in the first game Thursday. Purdue Fort Wayne and SDSU began an elimination game Thursday at 5 p.m.

South Dakota improved to 4-0 against PFW (10-38) this season by scoring once in each of the first three innings and tacking on two more in the fifth. Fernandez, USD’s second batter of the game, blasted a towering shot to left center to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. It was her third home run of the season.

Fernandez came up again in the second inning and beat out a ground ball that plated Lauren Wobken from third and made it 2-0. Fernandez was 3-for-3 on the day with a walk and two RBIs. South Dakota outhit the Mastodons 10-6.

Lauren Eamiguel’s solid hit to center made it 3-0 in the third inning. Rogers’ opposite field homer to right in the fifth made it 4-0. Eamiguel followed the blast with her second hit of the game and came around to score on a fielding error for USD’s fifth run.

Durham, meanwhile, hummed right along in the circle. Two infield singles from PFW’s all-Summit outfielder Lauren Watson were the Mastodons’ only hits through four innings. PFW put two on in the fifth, but Durham got Watson to foul out to left and struck out Lacey Wilzbacher to end the threat. Catcher Abby Baez ruined the shutout bid with a leadoff homer in the top of the seventh.

Watson and Baez were 5-for-6 against Durham, but the rest of the Mastodons were a combined 1-for-20 with six strikeouts. Baez’s run is the only one PFW has mustered against South Dakota in four games this season.

Durham improved to 14-8, the eighth-most wins in a season by a USD pitcher in program history. She tossed a 1-hit, 5-inning shutout against PFW earlier this season back in Vermillion.

South Dakota improved to 6-11 all-time at the Summit League Tournament. This is the first time the Coyotes will compete in the winner’s bracket final.

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