FARMERS BRANCH, Texas - After a scoreless first four innings in the opening game of the Great West Conference Tournament, the University of North Dakota softball team struck first but Utah Valley rallied its way past the Fighting Sioux 3-2.
UND will look to keep its season alive for another day at 3 p.m. today in the first elimination game of the tournament facing the loser of Houston Baptist and Nebraska Omaha. Utah Valley advances in the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament to take on the winner of the second game at 5:30 p.m.
"We had our opportunities to score and just didn't get enough key hits," head coach Eric Oakley said. "The girls are ready to fight for it. They know this is the season."
North Dakota struck first in the fifth inning as sophomore Caralyn Chewning (Willamina, Ore.) plated two runs with her fifth home run of the season after senior Erica Younan (Chico, Calif.) reached on a walk.
The Fighting Sioux had three hits and had left six runners on the base paths before finally striking in the fifth inning for the game's first runs.
Junior Michelle Frank (Chaska, Minn.) got the start in the circle and pitched her way out of a first inning bases-loaded jam with only one out after allowing a lead-off single and a pair of walks, but got out of the inning unscathed and only allowed one walk until the bottom of the fifth inning.
UVU quickly answered after falling behind taking its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth frame. The Wolverines connected for six hits and three runs with only one out and runners on second and third.
UND made a change in the circle as Emma Gronseth (Forest Grove, Ore.) entered the game and completed the final 1.2 innings allowing no runs and only one hit recording two strikeouts. Frank's (9-14) final line was 4.1 innings pitched allowing three runs off seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
The Sioux were held hitless in the final two frames as UVU's Tiffany Mills (17-16) finished her complete game effort recording her 17th win of the season.
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