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May 11, 2013

Behnke's blast lifts Vikings past Wash U.

Sophomore Laura Behnke homered to lead off the ninth inning Saturday to lift Augustana to a 3-2 win over Washington University at the NCAA softball regional at Pella, Iowa.

PELLA, Iowa-Laura Behnke's (St. Francis HS, Roselle, Ill.) solo home run in the top of the ninth Saturday gave sixth-seeded Augustana a 3-2 win over fifth seed Washington University and kept the Vikings alive at the NCAA softball regional at Central College. Coach Kris Kistler's club improves to 31-13 on the year and advances to a 4:00 p.m. game on Saturday afternoon. The Bears end their season with a 31-14 record.

With the game tied at 2-2, Behnke led off the ninth with a shot down the right field line that caromed off the top of the fence and over to give Augustana the lead. Viking hurler Sarah Hintz (Le Roy HS,  Le Roy, Ill.), who started the contest and went the first 4 2/3 innings, returned to the game and retired Washington in the bottom of the ninth for her first save. Ashley Janssen reached Hintz for a one-out single, but was doubled off first on Adrienne White's pop to Jenna Teson (Jacobs HS, Algonquin, Ill.) at second, ending the game.  

Freshman Ashley Anderson (Sherrard HS, Viola, Ill.) relieved Hintz in the fifth and went 3 1/3 shutout innings. She picked up her 12th win of the season against just four losses. Brooke Hofer went the distance and suffered the loss for the Bears.   

The Vikings took the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth. After a Jamie Rehmert (Sterling HS, Sterling, Ill.) single, Cheyenne Burnett (Rock Falls HS, Rock Falls, Ill.) reached on a fielder's choice. The next batter, Krista Watson (Coal City HS, Coal City, Ill.), doubled to the fence in left center with Burnett advancing to third. Christina Pagan (Normal West HS, Normal, Ill.) and Chaney Tambling (Dwight HS, Dwight, Ill.) followed with back-to-back RBI singles for a 2-0 lead. Hofer walked Behnke to load the bases, but fanned Teson looking to escape further damage.  

Augustana missed another opportunity to extend the lead in the top of the fifth. Chelsea Lavin (Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove, Ill.) led off by reaching second on a Washington error, but ran into an out at third on Rehmert's grounder to short. The Vikings went quietly after that.  

The Bears tied it with two in the bottom of the fifth. Hintz fanned Claire Downs to start the inning, but Paige Biles followed with an infield hit, was sacrificed to second and stole third. White's triple to right center got Washington on the board and knocked Hintz out in favor of Anderson. Hofer then helped her own cause with a game-tying single to left.  

Anderson squelched Bear threats in the sixth and seventh innings. She fanned Janssen, Washington's top hitter, to end the sixth, stranding runners at first and third. In the seventh, she pitched around a wind-blown leadoff double by White.  

In addition to Behnke's (2-for-4) heroics, Tambling had a big game at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.  

The Vikings now face the winner of Coe vs. Fontbonne at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.