GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Four of Georgia Southern's last five games of the 2013 season came down to extra innings.
It was only fitting that the season came to an end with two more bonus frames.
South Florida scrapped across a fluky run in the top of the ninth inning to eliminate the Eagles with a 2-1 win in the NCAA Softball Gainesville Regional to advance to the finals and face the Florida Gators on Sunday for a trip to the super regionals.
"We were in a position to win," GSU coach Annie Smith said. "At the end of the day, we had a chance to win the game."
Sarah Purvis pitched a perfect game against Hampton earlier in the afternoon -- the second of her career and second in GSU history -- to help the Eagles advance to the semifinals against USF, and was masterful in relief during the finale.
The only run she allowed on the day was unearned. USF's Dani Wayt stole third, and the throw from GSU catcher A.J. Hamilton went high, allowing Wayt to score the game winner in the top of the ninth.
Purvis closed out the season with 23.1 consecutive innings pitched without allowing an earned run, including the seven perfect frames against Hampton.
"I can say I left it all on the field," Purvis said. "After the perfect game, it was a new ballgame (against USF). That was my mind set, and we really thought that we had it."
The Eagles (33-30) had the chance to walk off in the eighth. USF (44-15) pitcher Sara Nevins walked back-to-back batters, then hit Andrea Tarashuk to load the bases with one out.
Lindsay Anderson, who started the game but left in the fourth in favor of Nevins, re-entered, and struck out Kaitlyn Johnson for the second out.
Hamilton grounded out to end the threat.
Anderson, a senior, had one thought when she inherited the bases loaded with one out.
"I made a deal with God, and I was like, 'This is not how I'm going out. This isn't going to be it for me.' I knew if I just did my job, it was going to happen," Anderson said.
The Eagles, trailing 1-0 in the sixth, were able to get to Nevins, South Florida's ace, who relieved in the fourth.
Alexa Lewis led off the sixth with a triple and scored on an RBI single by Shelby Morrill after Kourtny Thomas was intentionally walked.
Tarashuk walked to load the bases, but the GSU rally ended there after Johnson popped out to the catcher.
In the second inning, Kourtney Salvarola reached on an infield single, stole second, reached third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch by GSU's starter, Brooke Red.
Red got out of further damage as the Bulls left runners on second and third.
South Florida had plenty more chances. D'Anna Devine was stranded on third in the first inning, two were left in scoring position in the third, and two more were stranded in the fifth, when Purvis entered the game and got the final out of the frame.
Red finished with three strikeouts and an earned run to her credit in 4.1 innings of work.
Purvis faced the minimum throughout regulation, including in the seventh, when Devine singled to left. The frame came to an end when Ashli Goff lined out hard to left field, and GSU's Alext Lewis fired a bullet to first base to catch Devine before she got back to the bag. The Bulls also lined into a double play to end the eighth.
"Defense wins championships," Smith said. "We played really good defense coming into the regionals. That's how you win, and we played defense. There were a lot of nice plays, and we gave ourselves a chance."
GSU 3, Hampton 0
Sarah Purvis was perfect for the second time this season.
She went seven flawless innings, and Shelby Morrill drove in all three runs as Georgia Southern stayed alive in the NCAA Gainesville Regional with a 3-0 win over Hampton Saturday afternoon.
Purvis reached ball three in a pitch count only twice, as Shine Huwe and Carla Trimble drew full counts in the second and third inning, respectivly. Both struck out looking.
Purvis struck out six in the effort.
Morrill (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBIs) was the hero offensively for the Eagles.
Alexa Lewis led off the game with a sharp single. Lexi Allen laid down a sacrifice bunt, which Hampton pitcher Jailynn Jackson couldn't field. Jackson was charged with an error as she threw late to first and the ball got by first baseman Taylor McCoy, putting Lewis on third and Allen on second.
Lewis scored unearned when Morrill dropped a single to center.
At least one Eagle reached base in every inning but the second. Tabby Douberly doubled to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but was left stranded.
Lewis drew a walk in the top of the fifth, and with two outs and a 2-2 count, Morrill drilled a no-doubter over the fence in left.
Lewis, who drove in all four GSU runs in the final two game, didn;t see it that way.
"Well, we don't get those RBIs without runners on base before I'm up," she said. "I just wish we could have pulled it out in the end."
NOTES: Purvis tossed her first perfect game on Feb. 15 against Southern Illinois. ... Four of Georgia Southern's last five games of the season ended in extra innings, including the 11-inning, 1-0 win against UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference championship on May 11. ... Morrill's home run against Hampton was her seventh of the season. ... The win against Hampton was GSU's second win at a regional in program history. The first was against Coastal Carolina in 2006.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.