HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After opening the season with eight road games, the University of Southern Mississippi softball team played at home for the first time in 2014 and fell in a pair of games to instate rival Ole Miss. The Rebels won the first game 7-4 and edged the Golden Eagles 4-3 in eight innings in the night cap.
"The effort that our players showed tonight was second to none," co-head coach Kirsten Voak stated after the games. "It was not the outcome we were hoping for, but the amazing plays that are coming up; the full team effort; the ability to be able to go to anyone on our bench both on offense and defense is definitely comforting as we enter the longer stretch of the season."
Southern Miss had a balanced offensive attack on the night. Six different players recorded hits on the night, including three players who finished the day with multiple hits. On the day, Southern Miss recorded 11 base hits, including six extra-base hits. Katie Cleary led the way for the Golden Eagles, finishing the day with three hits, including two doubles and a triple with a RBI and a run scored. Sarah Evans finished the twin bill with three hits including two doubles and a team-best two RBI. Michelle Stringer had just one hit, but it was a two-RBI double.
In the circle, the Southern Miss pitching staff combined for 10 strikeouts without allowing a walk. The stable of pitchers scattered 26 hits, allowing 11 total runs (nine earned runs) in 15.0 innings of work.
Shelbee Rodgers tossed a complete game in the opening game. The junior scattered 14 hits in 7.0 innings of work. She allowed seven runs (six earned runs) with six strikeouts and no walks. Samantha Robles started the second games. She finished the game with 8.0 innings of work allowing 10 hits. She surrendered three runs (two earned runs) with four strikeouts and no walks. Kaitlin Wilson entered the game in relief of Robles. She allowed a run on two hits.
Southern Miss continues play this weekend with a four-game series at the Southern Miss Softball Complex against Detroit. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the weekend.
"We are really excited to get out here and play this weekend. We are looking forward to some great weather and hopefully get a few more wins under our belt as we go up against Detroit."
Game 1 Recap
In the first game of the doubleheader, Southern Miss finished with five hits, including four extra-base hits. Evans, Cleary and Stringer each finished the day with doubles led by Evans who posted two doubles.
Ole Miss was the first to score, plating a run in the top of the second inning. The Rebel's Miranda Strother led off the inning with a solo home run to place the visitors on the scoreboard.
Southern Miss responded in the bottom of the third inning with three runs. Rachel Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. She advanced to third as Evans doubled to left center field. Stringer followed with a two-RBI double down the left field line to give the Golden Eagles the lead. Selena Estrada delivered a pinch-hit single to right center field, advancing to second on the throw into the infield. Ole Miss used a strikeout for the second out of the inning. The catcher threw down to first base to complete the strikeout. On the play, pinch runner Mikayla Davis attempted to score from third. The throw home was off the mark allowing Davis to score and push the Southern Miss advantage to 3-1.
The Rebels regained the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Ole Miss strung together five hits and used a sacrifice fly and a Southern Miss error to score five runs and retake the lead at 6-3. Ole Miss added an insurance run in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, the Rebels used a single and a RBI double to plate a run.
Trailing 7-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Golden Eagles attempted a comeback. Cleary led off the inning with a double to right center field. Evans notched a one-out double to left center field. On the play, Wilson, who pinch ran for Cleary, scored and Evans was able to advance to third. Southern Miss was unable to score any more runs as back-to-back strikeouts ended the game.
Game 2 Recap
In the nightcap, Southern Miss was out-hit 12-to-6, but used pitching and defense to keep the game close. Cleary finished the game with a double and a triple to pace the offensive attack in the second game.
Game two was a pitchers' duel for the first four and a half innings with both pitchers putting zeroes on the scoreboard for their respective teams.
Southern Miss was the first team to score, scratching the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Golden Eagles were able to score a run without the benefit of a hit. Cleary led off the inning with a walk and Davis entered the game to pinch run. Davis was eliminated on a fielder's choice that left Estrada safe at first base. Evans followed with a walk to give USM a pair of base runners. Following a wild pitch, pinch hitter Meaghen Nelson drew a walk to load the bases. Priscilla Burns pinch hit with the bases loaded. The sophomore drew a RBI walk to put the Golden Eagles in front 1-0.
The Golden Eagles added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, McKeever singled up the middle. Cleary followed with a RBI double to left field. Evans notched a two-out single to push the lead to 3-0 through six innings of work.
Ole Miss rallied in the top of the seventh inning to force extra innings. Ole Miss led off the inning with four consecutive singles to score a pair of runs. After a foul out to right field, the Rebels used a RBI ground out to tie the game at 3-3. With a runner on third with two outs, Robles closed out the inning with a strikeout.
The Rebels took the lead in the top of the eighth inning. The Rebels led off the inning with a single to deep short. With one out, Ole Miss used a sacrifice fly to move the runner into scoring position. With two outs and a runner on second, the Rebels benefited from a Golden Eagle error to score the unearned run.
The Golden Eagles were able to put the tying run on base, but were unable to record the game-tying base hit. Cleary tripled to center field to put the tying run just 60 feet from home, but a line drive to the shortstop ended the game.
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