April 27, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - If Southern Miss wanted to honor their seniors, there was hardly a better way to do it than by sweeping Conference USA foe East Carolina to begin their three-game series on Saturday.
Southern Miss defeated the Pirates 1-0 in a pitcher's duel in game one before out-slugging the visitors en route to a 4-2 decision in the second game. It was the first series win of the season for the Golden Eagles and the first series win under co-head coaches Jon Malgradi and Kirsten Voak.
"This was as determined a ball club as I've seen this season," said Malgradi of his team after the games. "These three seniors have meant so much to this program over their careers and this team in 2013, that, I think, our younger players really rallied around them today to send them out with some conference victories. Of course, I can't say enough about the play of our three seniors today."
Senior Beth Dietrich (4-14) won her second and third straight conference games as she earned both decisions on Saturday. In 11.2 innings of work, the Friendswood, Texas native gave up just five hits and did not allow a run while striking out six batters and walking just two.
Fittingly enough, the first game was ruled by the three Golden Eagle seniors who made the most of their opportunities. With Dietrich holding ECU scoreless from the circle, fellow seniors Kimberly Wagner and Danielle LaPointe each singled in the scoreless sixth inning to give Southern Miss the one and only run they need to take the opener.
In the nightcap, the Golden eagles scored single runs in the final three innings after leading 1-0 in the first to take the 4-2 decision. Freshman Sarah Evans went 3-for-4 on the game with a pair of doubles and an RBI while Dietrich held the Pirates to just two of their five total hits in 4.2 innings of relief.
Southern Miss is back on the diamond tomorrow to wrap up the series with East Carolina. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. due to the threat of afternoon rain.
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After a scoreless and nearly hitless first five innings, the Eagles got a rally going in the bottom of the sixth by two of their three seniors.
In to start at right field for the first time this season, Kimberly Wagner got a lead-off single off a full-count and was run for by freshman Kaitlin Wilson. After two ground-outs put a runner on third for the first time of the day, senior Danielle LaPointe got a 1-2 count bloop single into left center to drive in what proved to be the winning run.
Southern Miss' Beth Dietrich pitched her way to her first complete game shut-out victory against a conference foe in the final half-frame, fittingly ending the game by striking ECU's Chelsea K.-Glackin.
Dietrich, who has won her last two conference starts, held the Pirates to just three hits scattered over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and struck out three en-route to the 1-0 victory.
In the bottom of the first, Southern Miss got a two-out hit batsman on as LaPointe took one to the left elbow. One batter later, freshman Katie Cleary got the Eagles on the board with a little help from the visitors.
East Carolina's Kristi Oshiro was unable to field Cleary's would-be ground out and deflected the ball into right field away from K.-Glackin who slipped in her attempt to adjust to the ball and keep the runners at first and second. On the slipping, Malgradi sent LaPointe screaming around the bases for the first run and leaving Cleary on third with the three-base error.
Meredith Mitchell got a lead-off single to give the Pirates a base runner and, after a ground out, she came in on a Kristi Oshiro double to left field to tie the game up. After bringing Dietrich back in for relief, the Pirates got a single to put runners on the corners, Jordan Lewis got a sacrifice fly to deep center to put ECU up 2-1.
Southern Miss responded in the fourth as LaPointe reached again, this time on an ECU fielding error, and moved over after Cleary took a ball to the wrist. With two on and no outs, junior Mackenzie Sher ripped a ball down the third base line which died after being batted down, but it was deep enough for LaPointe to come in without a throw and make it 2-2.
The Golden Eagles re-took the lead in the fifth, scoring in back-to-back innings, as Sarah Evans got a lead-off double to the gap. After Kaitlin Wilson came in to pinch run, a wild pitch moved her over to third and fellow freshman Morgan McKeever drew a walk to put runners on the corners to set up the double steal situation.
After McKeever took off for second and slipped, ECU catcher Kai Clark threw the ball into the dirt and Wilson scooted in from third for the steal of home and leading run, putting Southern Miss up 3-2.
In the sixth, Southern Miss got another lead-off double, this time from freshman Michelle Stringer, and moved the runner on a Jenifer Gary sacrifice bunt. After battling off a number of pitches, Evans got her second double in as many innings to put Southern Miss up 4-2.
The Eagles threatened to add another run on McKeever's single in the next at-bat, but ECU erased Evans at home.
ECU added some late drama in the seventh as Jill Jelnick got a one-out single but Dietrich got a strike out and pop out to close out the game and clinch the series.
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