Feb. 9, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. - In front of a packed house at Bulldog Diamond, the Southern Miss softball team (2-4) defeated host Fresno State (2-1), 5-3, in eight innings after falling to Sacramento State (2-0) 3-2 early on Saturday at the Fresno State Kick-Off Classic.
In game one, the Golden Eagles let a two-run lead slip away in the final frame in a split pitching performance from Kimberly Wagner and Beth Dietrich.
In the night cap, in front of a packed Bulldog Diamond Stadium, the Golden Eagles and Bulldogs traded runs back and forth before Southern Miss put the game away in the first inning of extras. Fresno made it dramatic, but freshman Kaitlin Wilson pitched herself to her first career victory, throwing all eight innings and allowing three runs with just one earned.
"I couldn't be prouder of our team right now," said co-head coach Jon Malgradi following the game. "We talk all the time about staying in the process and playing our game, and every single player on this team stuck to that tonight and really made the plays when they counted the most. Now, we have to carry the momentum of this victory into our final three games of this road trip."
Game 1: Southern Miss struck first, getting a pair of doubles from Meaghen Nelson and Taylor Beck, to take a 1-0 lead. For Nelson, it was her first career extra-base hit as the ball flew over the center fielder's head at the warning track.
Sarah Evans helped make it a two-run game with a hard shot up the middle that pulled first baseman Molly Smith off the bag. With Smith still in the ground, heads up base running from Beck resulted in the run.
Two Golden Eagle errors in the top of the third allowed the Hornets to threaten, but after getting runners to second and third, Wagner navigated the order to escape unscathed with a ground out and fly out.
In the seventh, Kortney Solis cut the lead in half with a lead-off solo home run into left field, and with two outs, the Hornets tied the game on a single from Kelli Frye and a fielding error by the Golden Eagles that allowed a run to come in from second.
Sac State took their lead two batters later as Emily McCormick got a single to fall in to shallow right field to bring in Frye for the go-ahead run at 3-2.
Game 2: The Golden Eagles got two big runs early against the Bulldogs as Caroline Walker and Morgan McKeever both singled into the outfield to begin the game. Beck's sac bunt attempt was misplayed twice, once at first and then on the relay home to allow Walker to score and McKeever to end up at third. A groundout to the right side from Mackenzie Sher was deep in the hole enough to bring McKeever in one batter later.
Fresno answered back in their half of the second as Stesha Brazil got a lead-off, first pitch homer to left field. The Bulldogs were able to tie it up with a little help from Southern Miss after loading the bases, a fielding error in the infield allowed the tying run to score.
In the top of the third, the Eagles regained the lead as McKeever kept the hot bat rolling with a double to the gap and came in two singles later with Evans getting the RBI single through the right side.
The Bulldogs tied the game up when Brazil got a single and stole in the fifth before coming in on a Golden Eagle fielding error one batter later.
In the sixth, Fresno took advantage of an error and passed ball to get runners at third and second with one out, but Beck and Walker combined on the pick-off at third and got a fly out one pitch later to end the threat.
Fresno led off the seventh with a triple to the wall, and the Eagles played defense by loading up the bases to create multiple force out situations. Southern Miss got fly outs to shallow left and right field and then a grounder to force extra innings.
Southern Miss went back up in the eighth on an Evans sacrifice fly to bring in McKeever and Sher added to the lead with a towering shot into left field.
It was yet again a close one in the eighth as Fresno got runners to second and third, but Wilson navigated the lineup and struck out Michelle Solomon swinging to close it out.
For the game, the Golden Eagles had their best day swinging the bat of the season, finishing with nine total hits including two for extra bases and also set a season-high for runs scored. Additionally, prior to the season, Southern Miss had just one victory in program history over a team from California, a 2002 victory over Long Beach State - they now have two this year.
Southern Miss returns to action tomorrow for their final day at the Fresno State Kickoff Classic when they take on UC Davis, who defeated the Golden Eagles 5-3 on Friday, at 11:30 a.m. CT.