April 13, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After a pair of pitchers' duels to open the series, the final game between the University of Southern Mississippi and UAB once again was determined by pitching and timely hitting as the Blazers claimed a 3-0 victory over the Golden Eagles at the Southern Miss Softball Complex on Sunday afternoon.
"We had great stuff happening in the circle," co-head coach Kirsten Voak stated after the weekend series. "It is a testament to how our pitching staff is maturing. To have two real dominate pitchers come in and do the work against a really good hitting UAB team was exceptional. We have some young ones so we need to relax a little bit and get that maturity going so we are not forcing everything at the plate and we are going to be doing just fine."
Rodgers earned the start and worked 6.1 innings. She allowed three runs on 10 hits with four walks and nine strikeouts. For the year, Rodgers now has a team-best 155 strikeouts, ranking fifth in a single season in Southern Miss history. The transfer passed Gabby Luciani (2010-12) who recorded 154 Ks in 2010. Rodgers had at least one strikeout in each of the first six inning and ended the first four frames with a K.
Robles entered the game in the seventh inning, retiring the only two batters she faced.
Offensively, the Golden Eagles were held to just one hit by UAB starter Leigh Streetman. The Blazers' starter allowed just one hit in a complete-game effort with 10 strikeouts. Senior Mackenzie Sher broke up the perfect game and no-hit bid with a base hit with two outs in the seventh inning. The Black and Gold was also thwarted offensively by excellent defense by the Blazers.
Neither team was able to generate a run until the fourth inning. Rodgers worked out of trouble in the first three innings notching six Ks in the process, including closing out the first three frames with strikeouts. UAB broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth. The inning started with a walk and a single to place runners on first and second. The Blazers got aggressive and tried to execute a double steal, but Sher gunned down the lead runner for the first out of the inning. With a runner on second base and one out, UAB used a single to right center to score the go-ahead run. On the play, the batter tried to advance to second on the throw home, but was thrown out for the second out of the inning. After surrendering a double, Rodgers closed out the inning with a strikeout.
The Blazers added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning. UAB used a pinch hit single and a bunt single to start the inning with a pair of runners on first and second. The Blazers loaded the bases with a walk. A two-RBI double gave the visitors a 3-0 advantage. The runner on first attempted to score but was thrown out at the plate as Katie Cleary hit cutoff-man Morgan McKeever who threw a strike to Sher for the out at the plate. The Golden Eagles went to the bullpen bringing in Robles. The true freshman induced a fly ball to left field and a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Trailing 3-0, USM was unable to generate enough offense to extend the game, dropping the finale of the series.
Southern Miss returns to action next weekend as the Golden Eagles travel to Ruston, La. for a three-game Conference USA series with Louisiana Tech. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the weekend.
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