April 18, 2014
RUSTON, La. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team notched a pair of Conference USA victories in a doubleheader sweep on the road against Louisiana Tech on Friday night. The Golden Eagles posted a 2-0 shutout in game one before rallying for a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in game two at the Lady Techsters Softball Complex in Ruston, La.
Michelle Stringer led the offensive attack for the Golden Eagles. The sophomore recorded three hits on the day, including the two-RBI single in game two to give Southern Miss the lead it would not relinquish. Katie Cleary and Sarah Evans each had two hits apiece on the day. Evans and Mackenzie Sher provided the extra-base hits for the Black and Gold with each batter recording a double. Tori Rouse led the team with two runs on the day, while Stringer notched a team-high two RBI.
In game one, Rodgers tossed 7.0 scoreless innings for her team-leading 15th victory of the season. Fifteen wins in a season ranks sixth in school history, tying the junior with Samantha Davis (2009) and Jessica Holaway (2002 and 2003). Rodgers surrendered just three hits through the first three innings and then retired the final 15 batters she faced in order. Fifteen consecutive batters retired is a season-best for the Golden Eagles. Rodgers, the team-leader in strikeouts, had just a pair of Ks to go along with one walk.
In the nightcap, Robles started the game, working 4.0 innings before giving way to Rodgers. Robles allowed three runs on eight hits. She struck out three batters while walking a pair. She also batted, reaching base on an error in the pivotal fifth inning. Rodgers closed out the game tossing 3.0 scoreless innings to preserve the win. The junior earned her first collegiate save, which was the first save of the season for the Golden Eagles. Rodgers allowed no runs on one hit with three strikeouts in game two.
Game 1 Recap
Game one was a pitcher's duel early between the two schools. Louisiana Tech had opportunities in the first three innings. The Lady Techsters placed a runner on second base in the first three innings on three hits and a walk, but the Golden Eagles were able to lead the runners stranded.
LA Tech's pitcher Pauline Tufi was perfect through three innings, retiring the first 11 batters she faced. With two outs in the fourth inning, Sher broke up the prefect game with a double to left center field. Cleary followed with a flare to left center field. Sher was able to score on the play, giving Southern Miss a 1-0 advantage.
The Golden Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Cleary started the inning with an infield single to third base. Evans delivered a RBI double to left center field, scoring Rouse who pinch ran for Cleary from first base.
Southern Miss closed out the game as Rodgers tossed her fourth consecutive perfect inning, finishing the game with 15 consecutive batters retired.
Game 2 Recap
Game two saw the home team take an early lead. Louisiana Tech scored its first run of the day in the bottom of the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. With one out, the Golden Eagles surrendered a walk to allow a base runner. LA Tech used back-to-back two-out singles to take its first lead of the day.
The Lady Techsters extended their lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs, the home team used a single to place a runner on base. Anna Cross followed with a two-out, two-RBI home run to center field to push the advantage to 3-0. The next batter doubled to right center field to continue the inning. With a runner on second and two outs, the next batter single to left field. Rachel Johnson quickly picked up the ball and threw home. Sher corralled the ball and applied the tag for the final out of the inning.
The Golden Eagles used a crazy fifth inning to take the lead and control of the game. Robles led off the inning, reaching on an error by the Lady Techsters. Mikayla Davis entered the game to run for Robles at first base. Evans singled up the middle, advancing Davis to third base. Rouse pinch ran for Evans at first base. Rouse broke for second base, but had to retreat as LA Tech attempted to catch her stealing. Davis strayed away from third, drawing a throw to third. On the throw to third, Rouse was able to successfully steal second base, giving the Black and Gold a pair of runners in scoring position. Taylor Beck hit a ground ball, but rather than going to first for the out, the Lady Techsters threw home to try to eliminate the lead runner. Davis was able to slide under the tag to put Southern Miss on the scoreboard. Rouse advanced to third on the play. In the process, Beck broke for second base. LA Tech threw to second to try to erase Beck, but while the designated player was in a rundown, Rouse came around to score and Beck was able to reach second base safely. Pollock, playing the flex position, entered to run for Beck at second base. Meaghen Nelson singled to right center field. Once again, heads up base running allowed Nelson to advance to second base. With runners on second and third and no outs, Stringer put the Golden Eagles in front with a two-RBI single to right center field. Kaitlin Wilson entered to run for Stringer as Louisiana Tech went to the bullpen. The move worked for LA Tech as a fielder's choice, a foul out and a ground ball ended the inning. However, Southern Miss concluded the top half of the inning with a 4-3 lead.
The Black and Gold made a move in the circle, bringing in Rodgers. The junior retired the first seven batters she faced, giving her 22 consecutive outs going back to the first game. She surrendered a one-out single in the seventh inning. The tying run stole second base to move into scoring position, but Rodgers closed out the game with a strikeout.
Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech conclude the three-game Conference USA series with a single game on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the game.
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