Softball Claims Game One of Doubleheader; Falls in Game Two
BOCA RATON, Fla. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team split a doubleheader on the road against new Conference USA opponent Florida Atlantic. The Golden Eagles won the first game 2-0 before dropping a 4-3 decision in game two.
Both teams relied on solid pitching throughout the doubleheader. The tandem of Shelbee Rodgers and Samantha Robles combined for a 0.54 earned run average on the day. Rodgers posted a complete game shutout in game one, while Robles allowed four runs, but only one earned run. Rodgers surrendered three hits in 7.0 innings of work, striking out three and walking none en route to her ninth win of the season. Robles took the hard-luck loss allowing four runs (one earned run) on seven hits in 6.0 innings. She struck out one batter without allowing a walk.
Offensively, the Golden Eagle bats were kept relatively quiet. As a team, Southern Miss collected nine hits in two games with a double. Three batters notched two hits on the day with another three batters adding base knocks. Mackenzie Sher, Katie Cleary and Morgan McKeever each had two hits apiece with Cleary recording the only extra-base hit of the day. Five different Golden Eagles scored on the day and Selena Estrada led the team with two RBI.
Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic close out the three-game conference series on Sunday afternoon with a single game. First pitch in the rubber match is slated for 12:00 p.m. (CT). Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the game.
Game 1 Recap
The first game was a pitcher's duel with neither team surrendering much offensively.
Southern Miss threatened in the top of the third inning. Sarah Evans led off the game with a single through the right side of the infield. She stole second base to move into scoring position. With one out, Michelle Stringer drew a walk to place a pair of runners on base. Florida Atlantic used a strikeout and a line drive out to end the inning and leave the game scoreless.
Florida Atlantic attempted to break the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, the Owls used a double to place a runner in scoring position. The runner advanced to third base on a fly ball, but was left stranded as a groundout ended the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Owls once again looked to take the lead. FAU used a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt to place a runner in scoring position. The inning continued as the next batter was hit by a pitch. The two runners advanced 60 feet closer to home on a wild pitch. The next batter reached a fielder's choice that saw the lead runner eliminated as Stringer quickly tossed the ball to Sher for the out. Rodgers induced a line drive out to second base for the final out of the inning.
The Golden Eagles broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the top of the fifth inning. Evans led off the inning with a walk and Meaghen Nelson was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second, Stringer dropped a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Taylor Beck pinch hit and drove home the first run of the inning with a RBI groundout. McKeever followed with a RBI single up the middle to put the Black and Gold in front 2-0.
The Southern Miss defense did the rest as the Golden Eagles allowed one base runner over the final three innings, securing the 2-0 victory.
Game 2 Recap
Game two was back and forth with the home team ultimately edging out the Golden Eagles, 4-3.
Southern Miss was first to scratch the scoreboard, plating a run in the top of the second inning. Cleary led off the inning with a single to left field. Robles was hit by a pitch to give USM a pair of base runners. Arielle Pollock singled up the middle to load the bases with no outs. A shallow fly ball and a strikeout left the bases loaded with two outs. Estrada hit a ball right back to the pitcher that ricocheted off of the pitcher's leg for a RBI single.
Florida Atlantic took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. The leadoff batter hit a chopper back to the pitcher. The next batter attempted to lay down a bunt, but a fielding error by the Golden Eagles left the Owls with two on and no outs. The next batter reached on a fielder's choice with the lead runner thrown out at third base. Florida Atlantic used a RBI single and a sacrifice fly to plate two runs and take a 2-0 lead after four complete innings.
The Golden Eagles responded with a run in the top of the sixth inning. McKeever started the inning with a single to left field and Sher followed with a single to right field. Cleary doubled to left center field, scoring McKeever and knotting the score at 2-2. The Owls used a groundout and a double play to get out of the inning with the score tied.
The bottom of the sixth inning saw the home team regain the lead. A throwing error allowed the leadoff batter to reach second base. The next batter dropped down a bunt single and moved to second base as no one was covering the bag. With runners on second and third and no outs, Florida Atlantic used a two-run single to recapture the lead. The Black and Gold escaped the inning with no further damage, but trailed 4-2 heading into the final frame.
Southern Miss attempted a rally in the final inning. Evans was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Rachel Johnson pinch ran for Evans at first base. She advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt that went into the outfield. Nelson walked to put runners on the corners. Mikayla Davis entered the game to run for Nelson. Estrada scored the first run on a RBI groundout that also put the tying run on second base. With the tying run in scoring position, FAU ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts to secure the one-run victory.