April 25, 2014
TEMPE, Ariz. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team dropped an 8-0 decision to No. 5 Arizona State in five innings on Friday night at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Golden Eagles were once again hampered by defensive miscues, allowing the potent Sun Devil offense to take advantage.
The series continues tomorrow with a single game beginning at 9:00 p.m. (CT). Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the game.
Offensively, the Southern Miss bats were kept in check by Arizona State's Mackenzie Popescue. Rachel Johnson broke up the prefect game for the Golden Eagles with a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth inning. Morgan McKeever and Mackenzie Sher followed with back-to-back fielder's choices to give the Black and Gold three base runners on the night.
In the circle, two freshmen combined for the complete game. Samantha Robles started the game for the Golden Eagles. The true freshman tossed 4.0 innings, allowing six runs (four earned runs) on seven hits with three walks. Danielle Block entered the game in relief, working 0.2 innings with two runs (one earned run) on two hits.
Arizona State was the first team to score, plating three runs in the bottom of the first inning. The leadoff batter bunted for a base hit and advanced to second on a throwing error by Southern Miss. With one out, the Sun Devils used a single to place runners on the corners. The first run of the inning came in to score as ASU's Haley Steele doubled off of the center field wall. With runners on second and third, the Golden Eagles used a fly ball to record the second out. The Black and Gold looked to be out of the inning with just one run allowed, but a second error allowed the two lead runners to score. Robles induced a ground ball to third base for the final out of the inning to limit the damage to just three runs.
The Sun Devils added an insurance run in the bottom of the third inning. Steele hit a solo home run down the left field line to start off the inning and push the advantage to 4-0. Despite another base hit and an error, Southern Miss kept Arizona State to just one run.
The Golden Eagles threatened in the top of the fourth inning. Johnson broke up the perfect game with a full-count walk. She moved into scoring position with her third stolen base of the season. McKeever followed by reaching on a fielder's choice. The ball hit to short prompted a look by the shortstop to both first and third, but she was unable to record an out leaving USM with runners on the corners with no outs. Sher reached on a fielder's choice. On the play, the Sun Devils were able to retire the lead runner. The Golden Eagles moved the runners up a base with a groundout to first by. With runners on second and third and two outs, ASU used a deep fly ball to center field to escape the inning without any damage.
Southern Miss was able to retire Arizona State in order in the bottom of the fourth inning. The leadoff batter grounded out. The next batter drew a four-pitch walk. The Golden Eagles used a double play to sit the Sun Devils in order 1-2-3. The ASU batter hit a line drive that was corralled by McKeever who quickly threw to Sarah Evans covering at first base to complete the 16th double play of the season by Southern Miss.
Arizona State completed the run-rule with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The leadoff batter doubled to right center field. The next batter walked to give the Sun Devils a pair of base runners. The Golden Eagles went to the bullpen and brought in Block to pitch. The two runners advanced 60 feet on a wild pitch. ASU's Elizabeth Caporuscio doubled to left center field just out of reach of a sprinting Johnson, scoring a pair of runners. A single continued the inning, leaving Arizona State with runners on the corners. Jennifer Soria hit a ground ball to second base. Meaghen Nelson quickly flipped the ball to McKeever covering at second base for the force out. On the fielder's choice, the lead runner came around to score. The next batter popped up to Michelle Stringer at third base. Soria advanced to second base on an errant throw. Soria stole third base and came around to score the decisive run on a throwing error.