FARGO, N.D. - Southern Utah University's offense erupted for eight runs in the fifth inning and used three home runs during the day as the Thunderbirds wrapped up the 2012 regular season with an 11-6 victory at North Dakota State on Saturday. The win moves the T-Birds to 29-23 overall on the year and 15-9 in the Summit League.
SUU's Katie Olinger opened the scoring on the day with a solo home run in the top of the second, marking her first big fly of the year. North Dakota State answered with a run in the home half of the inning and then took a 3-1 lead with two runs in the bottom of the third.
A second Thunderbird home run in the fourth, this time off the bat of Madison Resley, cut the margin to one, 3-2. However, the fifth inning put Southern Utah squarely in the driver's seat with eight runs in the frame. Kelsey Bryant tallied the first runs on a two-run home run over the fence in left center, scoring Mikkel Griffin who had hit an earlier single.
SUU loaded the bases as Terysa Dyer was hit by a pitch, Kadi Henderson hit a single up the middle and Resley drew a walk. The bases remained loaded over the next five batters with Haylee Hoch, Olinger, Megan Gurski, Tessa Loewen, Griffin and Bryant logging RBI. A final fly ball to left field ended the inning, but not before Southern Utah had taken a 10-3 lead.
NDSU rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, cutting the margin to 10-6, but a final run by Southern Utah in the seventh on an RBI by Bryant capped the scoring, 11-6. Danielle Axe came on in relief for SUU in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a single hit and struck out two to finish out the game.
Southern Utah will return to the diamond next weekend when the team begins play at the Summit League Tournament in Kansas City. The Thunderbirds could qualify as either the third or fourth seed, depending on the outcome of the UMKC-Western Illinois series, and face IPFW or North Dakota State in the first round on Thursday.