Feb. 15, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - In the first game of their home opening tournament, the Southern Miss softball team (3-7) defeated Jacksonville State 7-6 on Friday at the Southern Miss Softball Complex.
With the win, the Golden Eagles move to 4-0 all-time against the Gamecocks and set a new high-water mark for hits in a game. The young Southern Miss group also played errorless softball in defense behind a trio of Golden Eagle pitchers.
"This was absolutely a total team effort," said co-head coach Jon Malgradi. "We talk all the time about finishing better than we started, and I thought over the final three-and-a-half, we accomplished that. (Jacksonville State) answered every time, but our kids hung in there and got a very hard fought victory.
Back-to-back doubles to lead off the second gave the Gamecocks an early 1-0 advantage, but Southern Miss answered back in their half of the inning on a Morgan McKeever, bases loaded infield single to knot the game at 1-1.
JSU retook the lead with a pair of solo runs in the third and fourth innings including a double down the left field line in the fourth from Jessica Guy.
Down 3-1, the Golden Eagles rallied to the tune of a five-run fourth inning that began when Meaghen Nelson doubled in Danielle LaPointe from first. After a single from Caroline Walker tied the game at 3-3, a single from McKeever and in-field hit by Taylor Beck loaded the bases to allow for Mackenzie Sher's bases clearing double to right center.
The Gamecocks clawed back into the game in the fifth and sixth, with a two-run home run and solo roundtripper, respectively, but Walker's two-out double in the fifth provided what proved to be the winning run.
The Black and Gold combined all three of their pitchers on the evening to secure the victory, with Kimberly Wagner (2-2) earning the victory on three innings of work, allowing three runs and four hits. Freshman Kaitlin Wilson pitched the final two-thirds to record her first career save.
On the day, Southern Miss tallied 11 hits, including three for extra bases, to set a new season-high. LaPointe also set a new career-high for hits in a game with three. It was also the first multi-hit game of the senior's career, while three other Golden Eagles had multi-hit games.
"It was a ping-pong type game," said co-head coach Kirsten Voak. "They scored and we answered and it was like that all night. Even after we had that big fourth inning, our team knew that it wasn't over and we had to keep playing."
Southern Miss returns to action tomorrow for the second day of tournament play when they take on Sam Houston State (3-4) at 2:30 p.m., and Jacksonville State again at 5 p.m.
Tickets for the tournament $20 for all-tournament chairback passes, $15 and $10 for adults and youth general admission, respectively. Day passes and single game tickets are $8 for chairbacks, $6 and $4 for adult and youth general admission, respectively.
Fans who would like to follow the Golden Eagles from out of town can do so on Twitter by following @USMSoftball, via the Gametracker platform from SouthernMiss.com, or by liking the Southern Miss Softball page on Facebook.