HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team split a Conference USA doubleheader with the University of Texas at San Antonio on Saturday afternoon at the Southern Miss Softball Complex. The Golden Eagles doubled up the Roadrunners with a 10-5 victory in game one, but dropped a 3-1 decision in game two.
Mackenzie Sher led team offensively. The senior finished the day 5-for-6 with a home run and a team-high three runs scored. Arielle Pollock also finished the day with multiple hits, closing out the doubleheader with two base knocks. Samantha Robles had just one hit in one at bat, but made it count. The true freshman belted a grand slam to straight away center field to help propel the Golden Eagles to a victory in game one.
In the circle, the Black and Gold used a trio of pitchers.
Shelbee Rodgers tossed a complete game in the game of the day. The transfer allowed five runs (three earned runs) in 7.0 innings of work. Rodgers walked two and finished with 12 strikeouts. It was the third time this season Rodgers posted double-digit strikeouts, falling just two Ks shy of her career high.
Robles earned the start in game two, but surrendered two runs on four hits without issuing an out. She was lifted for fellow freshman Danielle Block. The Phoenix, Ariz. native, who was named one of Southern Miss' Most Outstanding Freshmen, recorded 7.0 innings of relieve. Block surrendered one run on seven hits with a walk and a career-high five strikeouts.
Game 1 Results
In game one, Southern Miss jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Morgan McKeever drew a walk. Sher followed with an infield single to short. With two outs, Sarah Evans was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pollock put the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard with a RBI walk. Southern Miss was aided by a pair of errors by UTSA. Meaghen Nelson reached on a fielder's choice that saw the Roadrunners going to second for the final out. The shortstop mishandled the ball and the second baseman threw the ball away. Sher and Evans were both able to score on the two errors, giving the Black and Gold a 3-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles added a run in the bottom of the third inning. Evans was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Pollock dropped down a bunt single to give USM a pair of base runners. Mikayla Davis enter the game to run at second base, but she was erased on a fielder's choice. Rachel Johnson loaded the bases with an infield single to second base. Michelle Stringer plated Pollock with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Down 4-0, the Roadrunners answered with a big fourth inning. The leadoff batter singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With a runner on third and no outs, the next batter single through the right side of the infield to put UTSA on the scoreboard. The next batter walked to continue the inning. With one out, the Roadrunners used back-to-back singles to cut the deficit in half. With two outs, a fielding error allowed two runs to score and tie the game at 4-4.
Southern Miss responded in the bottom of the inning. McKeever and Sher delivered back-to-back singles to start the inning. Selena Estrada reached on a fielder's choice that saw all three batters advance safely. Evans reached on a fielder's choice that saw McKeever retired at home. Robles entered the game to pinch hit. The true freshman crushed a home run to straight away center field to put Southern Miss in front 8-4 on the grand slam.
The home run was Robles' third of the season and the second grand slam of the year for the true freshman.
The Golden Eagles added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sher was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a groundout. Kaitlin Wilson entered the game to pinch run at second base. With two outs, Pollock singled up the middle to score Wilson easily from second base. Pollock advanced to second on a wild pitch. Nelson followed with a RBI single through the left side to score Pollock and put Southern Miss in front 10-4.
The Roadrunners was only able to score one run in the final inning as the Golden Eagles thwarted any attempt of a comeback. The lone run came off the bat of Megan Low, the nation's leading home run hitter. The solo shot was Low's 15th of the season.
Game 2 Results
Game two started with four straight singles by UTSA, scoring a pair of runs. Four consecutive singles, including a comebacker off of Robles' foot allowed the visitors to take a quick 2-0 advantage with no outs. Block entered the game with two runners on base and no outs. The true freshman sat down the Roadrunners in order, notching back-to-back strikeouts and inducing a pop up to third base.
Southern Miss cut the UTSA lead in half on one swing. With two outs, Sher belted a home run to left center field. The home run was Sher's team-leading seventh home run of the season and the 21st of the senior's career. Sher tied Heather Bell (2001-04) and Sarah Boyd (2001-04) for fourth in school history in home runs.
The Roadrunners added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Jolene Graham led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. The Golden Eagles were able to escape the inning without any more runs allowed, however, the Black and Gold were unable to score the necessary runs in the bottom of the seventh to extend the game, falling to 3-1.
Southern Miss and UTSA conclude the series with a single game on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the game.
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