HARDEEVILLE, S.C. – The 15th-ranked Spring Hill College softball team opened the 2013 NAIA National Championship Tournament's Opening Round with a 10-0 five-inning "Mercy Rule" win versus the Virginia Intermont College Cobras at Richard Gray Baseball/Softball Complex on Monday afternoon.
Spring Hill began the scoring in the top of the 1st inning when sophomore centerfielder Taylor Webre drove in Badger sophomore right fielder Shea Blanchard from 3rd base via a grounder to shortstop with one out. Senior left fielder Katelyn Hinson then drove a double into left-center that plated senior third baseman Mariha Partman from 2nd base.
Badger starter freshman Caroline Sagrera (32-8) allowed a leadoff double to Cobra starting pitcher Micalah Sacre, but then struck out the next three batters to strand the runner at 3rd base.
Junior second baseman Raleigh Downs put a single into left field to start the 2nd inning and, following a walk by Blanchard, Partman made it a 5-0 SHC advantage with a three-run home run to left field on a 3-2 count and one out.
After Sagrera struck out the side in the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Badgers loaded the bases but failed to score in the 3rd frame.
Spring Hill tacked on three more runs in the 4th inning with an RBI-single by Webre and a two-base error by the Cobras that brought in two more Badgers. Back in the circle for SHC, Sagrera sat down nine consecutive batters before a bunt single by VAI's Krystle Brenneman opened the bottom of the 4th frame, but a pop out to short, a fielder's choice grounder and a caught stealing closed the half inning.
Sacre (14-5) lasted three innings in the start for the Cobras (36-13) and allowed five hits and three walks with two strikeouts.
Sagrera faced just one batter over the minimum in the win with 11 strikeouts, no walks and just two hits in just 63 total pitches.
At the plate, Hinson collected three hits with three RBI while Partman also had three RBI off two hits. Despite a hitless performance, Webre remained productive by driving in two runs and sophomore catcher Jade Bourgeois added a hit with an RBI and cut down the lone stolen base attempt by the Cobras.
"I was pleased with the intensity that we palyed with today," said SHC head coach Alison Sellers-Cook. "We also took advantage of the situation when they made mistakes. We can't allow any second chances to slip by us when we're playing at this level."
Spring Hill (42-14) will next play at 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday versus host and 9th-ranked USC-Beaufort (42-4) who defeated Cumberland (Tenn.) (36-21) 13-5 in six innings on Monday afternoon.
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