TROY, Ala. - The University of Southern Mississippi split a doubleheader on the road against Troy on Tuesday evening in Troy, Ala. The Golden Eagles were down in both games, rallying in each. In game one trailing 4-0, the Black and Gold rallied for a 6-4 victory. In game two, Southern Miss trailed 6-1 before rallying to tie the game at 6-6 and force extras before dropping the 7-6 game in eight innings.
Offensively, it was a balanced effort for the Golden Eagles. Eight different players had hits on the day, including seven players with multiple hits on the day. Morgan McKeever and Katie Cleary each had three hits apiece. Arielle Pollock, Selena Estrada, Mackenzie Sher, Michelle Stringer and Sarah Evans each had two base hits throughout the day. Pollock had a triple, while Cleary and Evans each added doubles. McKeever led the team with four RBI, while Stringer scored a team-best three runs.
Three pitchers combined for 14.1 innings of work in the circle. Shelbee Rodgers tossed a complete game in the first game. She tossed 7.0 innings allowing four runs (three earned runs) on 10 hits with three walks and seven strikeouts en route to her team-leading 13th win of the season. In game two, Danielle Block started the game. She worked 2.2 innings allowing six runs on six hits, a walk and three strikeouts. Kaitlin Wilson entered the game in relief. The sophomore allowed one run on four hits in 4.2 innings of work. She walked two and struck out four, taking the hard-luck loss.
Game 1 Recap
Troy was the first team to score in the first game, plating two runs in the bottom of the second inning. The Trojans used a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt to place a runner in scoring position. The next batter walked and Southern Miss was able to record the second out on an infield fly to first base. The runners advanced 60 feet closer to home on a wild pitch. The home team took the lead on a two-run single to right field.
The Trojans added to their lead with two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Back-to-back singles, coupled with an error allowed a run to score and the trail runner to advance to third. Troy used a one-out single to score the runner on third and extend the lead to 4-0.
Southern Miss posted a big fourth inning, taking the lead with five runs on four hits and a Troy error. Cleary led off the inning with a single to left field. She advanced to second base on a passed ball. With one out, Pollock tripled down the right field line to score Cleary. Meaghen Nelson was hit with two outs to extend the inning. Stringer reached base on a fielding error that allowed Pollock to score easily. Taylor Beck delivered a pinch-hit single off of the chest of the Troy third baseman to score Nelson. Beck advanced to second on the play. With runners on second and third, McKeever hit a two-RBI single to right field to give the Black and Gold a 5-4 advantage.
The Golden Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the fifth. Cleary doubled to center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Evans scored Cleary from third on a single up the middle, pushing the lead to 6-4.
The Trojans threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs and the winning run at the plate, Troy's batter sent the ball to deep left field, but Rachel Johnson was there to squeeze it for the final out of the game.
Game 2 Recap
The second game started with Troy taking an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff batter Becca Hartley gave the Trojans an early lead with a solo home run to left field.
Southern Miss knotted the score with a run in the top of the third inning. With one out, Stringer singled through the right side. She advanced to second base on a groundout. McKeever singled to center field, scoring Stringer and tying the game at 1-1.
In the bottom of the third inning, Troy regained the lead with a big inning. The leadoff batter singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. The Trojans used a two-out rally to take the lead. The next batter singled and advanced on the throw, leaving the home team with runners on second and third. A double to left center field plated two runs. The next batter singled home the runner on second base. A wild pitch advanced the runner 60 feet closer to home and a walk gave the Trojans a pair of base runners. The next batter tripled to score the two runners on base and extend the lead to 6-1. After a pitching change, Kaitlin Wilson induced a pop up to end the inning.
The Golden Eagles chipped into the lead with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Stringer reached on a throwing error by the Trojans with one out. Johnson entered the game to pinch run for stringer. Johnson advanced to second on a fly ball out. McKeever singled to right field. On the play, Johnson slid under the tag at the plate to cut the Trojans' lead to 6-2.
Down to its final three outs, Southern Miss rallied in the top of the seventh inning. Evans led off the inning with a double to left center field. Mikayla Davis entered the game at second place to run for Evans. Beck drew a pinch-hit walk to give the Golden Eagles a pair of base runners. Nelson re-entered the game to run at first base. Stringer singled to right center field, scoring Davis from second base. Peyton Garner pinch hit and loaded the bases with a five-pitch walk. Rodgers re-entered to run at first base for Garner. With one out, Sher singled through the left side of the infield to plate two runners. On the play, Sher moved to second base and Rodgers moved to third. Tori Rouse entered the game to run at second base and Cleary loaded the bases for the second time with an intentional walk. Estrada knotted the score at 6-6 with a Texas-league single to left field.
After holding the Trojans scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, the Golden Eagles were unable to score the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning.
Troy notched the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning. The leadoff batter drew a full-count walk. With one out, the next batter doubled down the left field line, leaving runners on second and third. The next batter delivered a pinch-hit single to score the winning run.
Southern Miss continues its road swing with a three-game Conference USA series against East Carolina. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the games.
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