March 9, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Katie Cleary got a pinch hit, two RBI single in the bottom of the seventh but it wasn't enough as Houston hung out to pick off the Golden Eagles in Saturday's Conference USA doubleheader from the Southern Miss Softball Complex.
Southern Miss (10-16, 0-2) stranded a season-high nine baserunners and Houston (12-7, 2-0) had a four-run seventh inning to take the Conference USA season opener from the Golden Eagles 7-0. Freshman outfielder Kristen Franson led the team at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles as a part of the five-hit game.
In the second game, the Golden Eagles got a solo home run from Mackenzie Sher to tie the game at 1-1 in the fifth, but the Cougars rallied back - finding the big inning again - to put up four runs in the seventh for the 5-3 victory. Southern Miss rallied in the seventh, highlighted by Cleary's two RBI single, but were unable to generate the necessary runs.
"We let a lot of little things get to use today, especially late in the games," said co-head coach Kirsten Voak. "Ultimately, we were right there all the way through but mental mistakes late in these games cost us. As a team, we just need to rebound and come back stronger tomorrow."
Southern Miss is back on the diamond tomorrow for the final game against Houston. First pitch is set for Noon from the Southern Miss Softball Complex.
Houston got on the board early with a pair of hits including a two-out, two RBI single from Julia Pecina to go up 2-0 after the top of the first. Southern Miss managed to get a pair of runners to second and third in that bottom of the frame but nothing across after a fly out ended the threat.
Southern Miss threatened again in the second, getting a pair of singles from Kristen Franson and Madison Edwards before a fielding error allowed Caroline Walker to reach to load the bases, but Houston was able to pitch themselves out of the jam and end the treat.
The Cougars got back-to-back doubles from Haley Outon and Sydney Gerbracht in the sixth to add to their lead, pushing it to 3-0, before piling up four runs off four hits in the top of the seventh.
Kimberly Wagner (6-4) suffered the loss, pitching 6.2 innings, surrendering the final out of the seventh to freshman Emily Wood. Wagner scattered nine hits and allowed seven runs while striking out three and walking four.
A double by Holly Anderson and a pair of sacrifice hits allowed the Cougars to plate a solo run in the first, scoring in the opening frame for the second straight game.
Both teams settled down behind their pitchers, with the Cougars loading the bases in the fifth and Southern Miss escaping, before Mackenzie Sher's seventh homer of the season tied the game up at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame. Sher leads all of C-USA in roundtrippers this season.
Southern Miss managed to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth, getting one runner on after Taylor Beck's 13-pitch at-bat resulted in a walk, but Watts was able to induce a soft ground out to third base to end the threat.
Houston found their lead again in the seventh when, after two lead off singles, Anderson doubled into left field to go up 2-1 before an Eagle fielding error allowed another pair of runs to come across and put Houston up 4-1. Another run came across on a Golden Eagle pitching error one batter later.
In the bottom of the frame, the Golden Eagles got Danielle LaPointe on by way of a Cougar error and a Michelle Stringer single moved her over to second. Following Franson's walk, Cleary got her pinch hit single to drive in a pair of runs, but Houston got a fly out and ground out to hold on for the win.
Freshman Kaitlin Wilson (4-6) suffered the loss, giving up six hits and five runs (three earned) over six innings of work. She struck out one and walked one. Houston pitcher Bailey Watts (6-2) finished the complete game performance with eight strikeouts.
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