By: Jill Wunrow
VALPARAISO, Ind. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay (23-26) softball team opened up Horizon League Tournament play scoring three runs in the final inning to secure a 5-1 win over No. 3 seed UIC (26-26) Wednesday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field in Valpo, Ind.
UIC took the first lead of the game with two outs in the bottom of the third inning when Natalie Hernandez hit a solo homerun down the left field line, giving the Flames the 1-0 advantage.
Green Bay took the 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning, scoring two runs with two outs on the board. With Tia Collins (Orfordville, Wis.) on second, pinch running for Shannon Butts (Greenfield, Wis.), Ashleigh Racer (Waterford, Wis.) hit an RBI double to left-center field, scoring Collins for the 1-1 tie. Senior Amanda Omahen (San Diego, Calif.) followed with an RBI single to left field, advancing to second on the throw, while Racer scored the go-ahead run for the Phoenix.
Green Bay finished the inning scoring two runs on three hits while stranding two runners on base for the 2-1 edge over UIC.
With one out and the bases loaded for the Flames in the bottom of the fifth inning, pitcher Alli Goecks (Beloit, Wis.) struck out UIC's Jacki Fletcher before catcher Shannon Butts connected with Alli Rivera (Geneseo, Ill.) at third to pick off the Flames runner, halting the scoring to close the inning.
After a hitless sixth inning by both teams, Green Bay's Shannon Butts and Jessica Hrncar (Bristol, Wis.) led off the top of the seventh by each earning a walk. Racer hit a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to second and third before Omahen hit an RBI double to right center field, scoring Hrncar and pinch-runner Amanda Pozolinski (Appleton, Wis.) for the 4-1 advantage.
Danielle Peerenboom (Appleton, Wis.) later sent an RBI double to right center field scoring Omahen to boost the Phoenix lead to 5-1. Peerenboom reached third on a wild pitch before Paige Newtols (Green Bay, Wis.) earned a walk. Miranda Reinke (Milwaukee, Wis.) struck out swinging before Peerenboom was caught stealing at third to retire the inning for the Phoenix.
Green Bay retired the side in the bottom of the final inning to secure the 5-1 win. Goecks, a Second Team All-League selection, went the distance for the Phoenix from the mound, improving to 11-11 on the season while striking out three batters and allowing two walks and four hits.
Omahen led the Phoenix from behind the plate, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs while Racer, Peerenboom and Shannon Butts each added a hit in Green Bay's win.
The Phoenix will face No. 2 seed Loyola (24-21, 15-8 HL) Thursday at 1:30 p.m. With a win over the Ramblers, the Phoenix will face either No. 5 seed Butler (24-30, 13-11 HL) or No. 1 seed Valpo (37-16, 19-5 HL) Friday, May 11 at 1:30 p.m. With a loss, Green Bay will face No. 4 seed Youngstown State (28-20, 12-10 HL) Thursday, May 10 at 4:00 p.m.
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