Unranked Dutch Fork nipped sixth-ranked Blythewood 3-2 on Thursday in a non-region softball game between two evenly matched and familiar teams.
The Silver Foxes and Bengals, after all, shared the Region 4-4A pennant last season with Spring Valley – all three teams finishing with 10-2 conference grades. Both teams return the bulk of their 2012 lineups. Blythewood, in fact, did not graduate a single starter.
Blythewood opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Ansley Gilstrap walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third base before scampering home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ellen Cordova.
Dutch Fork took the lead with two runs in the top of the third, thanks in part to a wild streak by Bengals pitcher Katie Chappell. Cheyann Atkinson got things rolling with a lead off single to right field, and on-base machine Madi Brown drew a walk. Both eventually scored - Atkinson on a single by Meghan Murphy, Brown on a bases-loaded walk by Jenna Elkins.
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The Silver Foxes added wheat proved to be the winning run in the top of the seventh, courtesy of a two-out single by Lindsey Mason and a ringing double off the right field fence by pitcher Hayley Elkins.
Blythewood made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. Lori Owens led off with a single and Jessica Ergle reached base on an error, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Owens scored to cut the DF lead to one on a ground out off the bat of Blair Murphy, but that was as close as the Bengals would get as Elkins ended the game by striking out Sydney Burnsed and Gilstrap.
Elkins, a junior who is committed to Charleston Southern, scattered six Blythewood hits, struck out 11 and didn’t issue another walk after passing the first batter she faced.
Chappell allowed only five hits in her first outing of the season and fanned seven, but her only three walks of the game in the third proved costly.
Owens had a 3-for-3 night for Blythewood (0-1), while Mason was 2-for-3 for DF.
The Silver Foxes opened the season and the Region 5-4A campaign with a 5-1 win over South Aiken on Tuesday.