March 2, 2012
FULLERTON, Calif. - In the opening day at the Fullerton/Demarini Invitational, the Southern Miss softball team (4-7) dropped a pair of games to No. 1 California and host Cal-State Fullerton on Friday.
The Golden Eagles fell to No. 1 Cal in the first game of the day, 8-0, behind the shutdown performance of Cal's All-American hurler Jolene Henderson.
In the day's second game, the Golden Eagles got up 2-0 after the first inning but were unable to find any more offense down the stretch as the Titans scored four unanswered to earn the 4-2 victory.
"Against Fullerton, they just hit the one ball flush that they needed to and that was the difference," said Southern Miss co-head coach Jon Malgradi. "Some balls fell nicely for them and we weren't able to handle some hardly hit balls on defense for us. One or two things go the other way and it's a different ball game."
Cal got on the board right away in the first inning as lead-off batter Jamia Reid was hit by the game's first pitch and advanced to third after stealing second and taking advantage of a Southern Miss throwing error. Cheyenne Cordes stepped in and pushed a ball to the warning track, deep enough to bring Reid in from third to make it 1-0 for the Bears.
In the second, the nation's top team showed their muscle with a five-run, six-hit outing, headlined by a three-run home run by Ashley Decker to push their lead to 6-0.
The Golden Eagles needed some time to adjust to pitcher Jolene Henderson, who opened the game by striking out eight of the first nine batters she faced. Stephanie Shiflet broke up the no-hit bid with a slapped single down the first base line in the fourth inning.
Cal added a single run in the bottom of the frame and pushed their lead to 8-0. With the Golden Eagles unable to score in the fifth, the run rule was enacted to end the game.
Henderson (8-0) picked up the win on four innings of work, striking out nine batters and allowing just the single hit.
Gabby Luciani (2-1) suffered the loss for the Golden Eagles after tossing four innings, allowing eight runs (four earned) while striking out four and walking two.
Southern Miss got back-to-back singles from Leslie LeJune and Taylor Brown in the first inning, eventually advancing both runners on a Brittany Lilly sacrifice. On the first pitch, Caroline Walker extended her five-game hitting streak by lacing a stand-up double into the left field gap to bring both runners in and put the Golden Eagles up 2-0.
Fullerton (7-11) threatened in the first but stranded a pair of runners in scoring position as Beth Dietrich, in her first appearance in 10 days, struck out the final two batters of the inning.
The Titans were able to crack the scoreboard in the fourth, making it a 2-1 ballgame, aided by a failed pickoff attempt at third that found its way into left field.
In the fifth, Fullerton was able to take the lead off a two-run home run by Nicole Johnson, her second of the season, to straight-away centerfield. The Titans threatened to add another, but a nice defensive scoop by second baseman Carissa Turang ended the inning with the home squad up 3-2.
Fullerton completed the scoring in the sixth when Ashley Carter's sacrifice fly drove in another run from third to make it 4-2.
Dietrich, who matched her season-high for strikeouts with six, picked up the loss to fall to 1-3 on the season. She pitched six complete innings, scattering eight innings and allowing four runs (all earned).
Desiree Ybarra (3-4) picked up the victory after throwing five innings with three strikeouts and six hits.
The Golden Eagles will return to action tomorrow as they take on a pair of Big 10 foes in Michigan State and Indiana. Game times are 11 a.m. CT and 5:45 p.m. CT, respectively.
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