Feb. 14, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team opened up play in the 2014 Renegade Classic with a pair of losses at JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee, Fla. on the campus of Florida State. The Golden Eagles were edged 1-0 by North Dakota State in game one of the tournament before dropping a 5-1 decision to the No. 13 Seminoles.
On the day, five different players recorded hits, including four Golden Eagles who notched a pair of base knocks. Samantha Robles posted a team-best .500 batting average on the day, going 2-for-4, while Mackenzie Sher, Morgan McKeever and Arielle Pollock each added two hits apiece. Sher fueled Southern Miss' power attack as both base hits were doubles. In addition, McKeever added a double on the day. Sher drove in McKeever for the only run of the day.
In the circle, Southern Miss used a trio of pitchers. The stable of arms surrendered six runs (five earned runs) on 16 hits with just three extra-base hits in 12.0 innings of work. The trio walked only four batters while combining to strikeout 12.
Shelbee Rodgers tossed a complete game against North Dakota State. The junior tossed 6.0 innings, surrendering just one run on eight hits. She surrendered three walks, but struck out a season-best eight batters.
Game two saw Robles start for USM before giving way to Kaitlin Wilson. Robles, who took the loss, surrendered four runs on four hits with not walks and a strikeout. Wilson entered the game in relief, throwing the final 4.0 innings. She allowed one unearned run on four hits, while striking out three.
Game 1 Recap
The game against North Dakota State was a defensive struggle. The two teams combined for just one run on 14 hits.
In the first inning, Rodgers singled through the left side of the infield to start things off for Southern Miss, but North Dakota State used a pick off to record a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Rodgers fanned the first batter she faced. After a single and a walk, Sher threw out the lead runner trying to steal. Rodgers induced a ground ball to end the inning and leave the score knotted at 0-0.
The Golden Eagles threatened in the second inning, but once again solid defense by the Bison prevented USM from scoring. Robles led off the inning by singling up the middle. The flex, Rachel Johnson, took Robles' spot at first base to run. McKeever followed with a walk to give Southern Miss a pair of base runners. North Dakota State used a double play to record the first two outs of the inning, leaving Southern Miss with a runner on second. The Bison were able to get a strikeout to end the inning and the threat.
In the Bison's half of the second inning, Rodgers struck out the first two batters of the inning and center fielder Katie Cleary made a diving catch in the outfield to produce a 1-2-3 inning for the defense.
The USM defense stiffened in the bottom of the third inning. Rodgers led off the inning with a strikeout, but surrendered a double to right center field. The next batter singled to shortstop, but McKeever was able to look the lead runner back to second base. With runners on first and second, Rodgers ended the inning and the threat with back-to-back strikeouts.
In the top of the fourth inning, Robles led off the inning with a single through the left side. Johnson once again ran for Robles as the flex, advancing to third on a McKeever single to left center. McKeever stole second base to move into scoring position and Michelle Stringer loaded the bases with a walk. Southern Miss was unable to score the go-ahead run as a pop up ended the inning.
The score remained locked at 0-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning. Rodgers struck out the first batter of the inning, but the next batter was able to get a ball over the head of the Southern Miss left fielder to put a runner in scoring position. The runner moved to within 60 feet of home on a groundout. With two outs, NDSU used a RBI single up the middle to take a 1-0 lead. North Dakota State would just get one run as Rodgers closed out the inning with a strikeout.
Southern Miss looked to rally in the top of the sixth inning. Sher led off the frame with a double down the left field line. Florida native Mikayla Davis entered the game to pinch run. A fly ball out to left field was not deep enough to advance the runner and a pop up to short provided the second out of the inning. The Golden Eagles were unable to score the tying run as a strikeout ended the inning. USM was unable to generate enough offense in the seventh inning to extend the game and fell 1-0 to North Dakota State.
Game 2 Recap
In the second game, the Golden Eagles were unable to get timely hits, dropping a 5-1 decision. Southern Miss notched just three hits in the game, but recorded a pair of extra base hits.
Southern Miss was first on the scoreboard, plating a run in the top of the first inning. With one out, McKeever doubled to left field. She came around to score as Sher doubled down the left field line, giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 advantage.
Florida State tied the score at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the first. The leadoff batter Tiffani Brown led off the game with a triple down the right field line. She came home on a RBI single by the next batter. The Golden Eagles continued to display solid defense, as the next batter fouled out to Sarah Evans at first base. Evans quickly threw the ball down to third base, catching the base runner in a run down for the second out of the inning. Robles ended the inning with a strikeout.
The Seminoles took the lead in the bottom of the third inning. The leadoff batter laid down a bunt single and the Noles used a hit by pitch to place a pair of runners on base. A bunt single loaded the bases for the nationally ranked home team, prompting a pitching change. Wilson came in to pitch and struck out the first batter she faced. The next batter singled up the middle, driving home a pair of runs. A walk loaded the bases and the final run of the inning came home on a sacrifice fly.
The Golden Eagles tried to capitalize on a Seminole error in the top of the fifth inning. Pollock led off the inning with a line drive single into right center field off of the second baseman's glove. Taylor Beck attempted to bunt Pollock over to second base, but an errant throw allowed both runners to advance into scoring position with no outs. The Noles ended the rally attempt, striking out the next three Golden Eagle batters.
Florida State added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning. FSU's Brown led off the inning with an infield single. She stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Southern Miss. Following an out, the Seminoles used a single through the left side of the infield to score Brown and increase their advantage to 5-1.
The Golden Eagles were unable to tie the score, falling to the nationally ranked Noles, 5-1.
Southern Miss continues play in the 2014 Renegade Classic on Saturday, Feb. 15. The Golden Eagles square off against the Bison at 11:00 a.m. (CT) before taking on the Seminoles at 4:00 p.m. (CT).
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