AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Southern Mississippi earned a split in the two games played in the Texas Invitational on Saturday at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas. In the first game, the Golden Eagles allowed four unearned runs in the fourth inning en route to an 8-5 loss to Texas Southern. In game two, Southern Miss trailed 7-2 before erupting for seven runs to post a 9-8 victory over ULM.
Nine different batters recorded a hit on the day, including five batters who notched multiple hits on the day. Katie Cleary posted a team-best five hits on the day, including four doubles. She finished the day with two runs scored and a team-high five RBI. Meaghen Nelson finished the day with four hits, while Sarah Evans and Shelbee Rodgers each had three hits apiece. Evans and Morgan McKeever each had doubles on the day.
In the circle, Danielle Block tossed game one, while Rodgers pitched game two. Block scattered 12 hits in 7.0 innings of work. She surrendered eight runs (four earned runs). Block walked three and struck out two. Rodgers allowed eight hits in 7.0 innings of work. The junior allowed eight runs (seven earned runs). She walked four while striking out 13 batters. Thirteen strikeouts was one shy of Rodgers' career high of 14 set against Detroit.
Game 1 Recap
The first game of the day was back and forth with Texas Southern ultimately picking up the win.
Southern Miss was the first team to plate a run, taking the lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Rodgers led off the game with a single up the middle. McKeever followed with a double to right center field. Mackenzie Sher loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk. Cleary doubled to right center field, scoring Rodgers and McKeever. Two runs would be all the Golden Eagles would score in the inning, leading 2-0 after one complete inning.
The Golden Eagles double their lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. Nelson led off the inning with a single down the left field line. With one out, Rodgers singled to third base, giving Southern Miss a pair of base runners. The two runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. With two outs, Sher cleared the bases with a two-RBI single to left field.
Texas Southern chipped into the Southern Miss advantage with a run in the top of the third inning. The Lady Tigers used a bunt single and a fielder's choice to place two runners on base. TSU used a deep fly ball to advance the runners up one base. Texas Southern got on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly to right field. The Golden Eagles ended the inning with a groundout, leading 4-1.
The Lady Tigers rallied to take the lead in the top of the fourth inning with some help from the Golden Eagles. The leadoff batter reached base on a throwing error by Southern Miss. TSU moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt. The runner moved to within 60 feet of home on a groundout. The first run of the inning came across on a RBI single to the shortstop. Back-to-back singles loaded the bases for the Lady Tigers and a base-clearing double gave the designated visitors a 5-4 advantage.
Southern Miss tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cleary started things off with a single up the middle. Evans followed with a single to right field. On the play, the TSU right fielder mishandled the ball allowing Cleary to score all the way from first and tie the game at 5-5. The Golden Eagles threatened to take the lead. With one out, Michelle Stringer walked and Nelson reached on a bunt double. The Lady Tigers escaped the inning with the score tied on a double play that saw a runner thrown out at the plate.
Texas Southern regained the lead in the top of the sixth inning. The lead batter singled to start the inning, but was retired on a fielder's choice. TSU used a bunt single to place a second runner on base. The two runners advanced 60 feet on a fly ball out. With two outs, the Lady Tigers used a two-RBI double to left center field to regain the lead. Texas Southern singled up the middle to score a third run of the inning and take an 8-5 advantage that they would not relinquish.
Game 2 Recap
Game two was decided by two big innings. Southern Miss surrendered a big inning, but rallied with a big inning of its own to claim a come from behind victory.
ULM was the first to scratch the scoreboard, plating a run in the top of the first inning. Rodgers looked to have a strikeout, but an illegal pitch granted the batter first base on a walk. The runner advanced to second on a groundout and came around to score on a RBI single to left field. Rodgers ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts with only one run scored.
Southern Miss knotted the score at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, Sher drew a walk. She came around to score as Cleary smacked a double to deep left center field. The double was the third of the tournament for Cleary and was her fourth RBI of the weekend.
The Warhawks broke the tie with a six-run fourth inning. The leadoff runner drew a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter followed with a RBI double to center field. The runner moved to within 60 feet of home by stealing third. Rodgers got the next batter to strikeout, but a passed ball allowed the batter to reach base safely. The second run of the inning came on a double to right field. ULM scored a run on a fielder's choice and an infield single loaded the bases. The Warhawks extended the lead with a RBI single and a two RBI double gave the designated visiting team a 7-1 advantage. A walk continued the inning, but a third base to catcher to first base double play ended the inning.
The Golden Eagles chipped into the Warhawks lead with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Robles led off the inning with a walk. Rachel Johnson, the flex for game two, replaced Robles on the base paths. Johnson advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Arielle Pollock. Evans followed with a RBI single up the middle, cutting the deficit to 7-2.
After holding ULM scoreless in the top of the fifth inning, Southern Miss sent 10 players to the plate, scoring seven runs on three hits and a pair of errors to regain the lead. Rodgers led off the inning, reaching second base on a throwing error. McKeever followed with a walk and Sher loaded the bases with an infield single. Cleary once again doubled, plating a pair of runners and trimming the lead to 7-4. With one out, pinch hitter Selena Estrada worked the count full before drawing a walk and loading the bases. Pollock re-entered the game to run at first base. With the bases loaded and just one out, Evans doubled to left center field closing the gap to 7-6. Nelson walked to load the bases. Mikayla Davis entered the game to run for Evans at second base and Taylor Beck stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter. Beck lifted a pitch to right field and Pollock was able to score on the sacrifice fly, tying the game at seven apiece. On the play, Davis advanced to third leaving runners at the corners. Nelson moved into scoring position with a steal of second base. Rodgers, who led off the inning, reached for the second time in the inning on a throwing error. Both Nelson and Davis were able to score on the play, allowing Southern Miss to take a 9-7 lead.
ULM cut the Southern Miss lead in half with a run in the top of the sixth inning. After recording a strikeout to start the inning, the Golden Eagles surrendered back-to-back extra base hits to score a run and leave a runner on third. Rodgers struck out the next batter and induced an inning-ending ground out to halt the rally.
In the final inning, the Warhawks used a one-out walk to place the tying runner on base. The runner advanced on a wild pitch, but a fly ball out and a strikeout ended the game leaving the runner stranded.
Southern Miss concludes the Texas Invitational with a single game against ULM. Because of predicted weather in the area, the game was moved to 10:00 a.m. The game will be tape delayed on the ESPN Longhorn Network. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the game.
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