SALEM, Va. - The No. 4-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University softball squad rapped out 11 hits in advancing to the 2013 NCAA DII Softball Championship semifinals with a 5-3 win over No. 5 Humboldt State on Saturday afternoon at the James I. Moyer Complex in Salem, Va.
Armstrong (44-9-1) knocks off a second consecutive former national champion in advancing to a semifinal matchup against No. 19 Central Oklahoma at Noon on Sunday. The Pirates need to beat the Bronchos twice on Sunday to make it to the National Championship game on Monday. Humboldt State sees its season come to a close with a 53-14 record.
Humboldt State took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI double by Sarah Fox and an RBI single by Andrea Chavez, but the Pirates' Kacie Patterson turned a 5-3 double play on a line drive that prevented more runs from scoring in the frame.
Armstrong got on the board in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Patterson, then took the lead in the third inning when a fly ball to center field off the bat of Heather Ellis was dropped by center fielder Tonya Walker with the bases loaded, plating two to make the score 3-2.
Humboldt State pulled to within two on a solo home run by Dani Randall in the top of the fifth inning and put the tying runs on base, but Peyton Roth started a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
Megan Barnwell then entered the game in the sixth inning and hurled two shutout innings, getting a fly out with two outs and the bases loaded to end the ballgame and send the Pirates into the semifinals.
Barnwell's two innings of three-hit shutout relief, walking two and striking out three saved it for Shelby Duff (10-3), who hurled three innings of one-run ball, walking two and striking out three to earn her first win of the DII Championships.
Humboldt State reliever Lizzie Perez (21-6) took the loss for the Lumberjacks, giving up six hits and four runs - three earned - in 4 2/3 innings of work, striking out four.
Eight of the Pirates' nine starters had at least one hit in the 11-hit attack, led by Hannah Reppert's 3-for-3 day. Patterson went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Seven different Lumberjacks had one hit for Humboldt State as Randall's home run paced Humboldt State in the contest.
Armstrong softball now becomes the fifth Pirate athletic program to advance to a national semifinal or better finish, joining the multiple-national champion men's and women's tennis teams, the women's soccer team (t3rd, 2011) and the men's golf team (2nd, 2005).