April 26, 2014
TEMPE, Ariz. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team dropped a 6-0 decision on the road to No. 5 Arizona State at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Sun Devils scored five runs in the final two innings to provide the final margin of victory.
Southern Miss and No. 5 Arizona State conclude the series on Sunday afternoon with a single game slated for 2:00 p.m. (CT). Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the game.
Offensively, the Golden Eagles recorded six hits, including a double. Rachel Johnson led the team with two base hits, while Selena Estrada notched a double. Katie Cleary, Sarah Evans and Arielle Pollock also had hits in the game. Evans and Morgan McKeever also reached base with one walk apiece.
The offense threatened several times throughout the night, leaving seven runners on base, including four in scoring position.
In the circle, Shelbee Rodgers tossed a complete game in a losing effort. The junior allowed six runs on nine hits in 6.0 innings of work. She held the potent Sun Devil offense to just one run for the first four innings of the game. She was charged with five walks while striking out four.
Southern Miss threatened in the top of the first inning. With two outs, Mackenzie Sher struck out, but advanced to first base on a fielding error by the Arizona State catcher. Cleary followed with a single through the left side of the infield, advancing Sher into scoring position. USM was unable to score as the ASU catcher picked off Sher at second base.
In the top of the second inning, the Golden Eagles once again threatened. Evans singled to right center field to start off the inning. Tori Rouse entered the game to pinch run for Evans at first base. Rouse advanced to third as Estrada doubled to right center field. Southern Miss was unable to score a run as All-American pitcher Dallas Escobedo fanned the next three batters in a row.
The Black and Gold defense kept the score knotted at 0-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Rodgers struck out the leadoff batter for the first out of the inning. The Sun Devils used a double to left center field to place a runner on second base. ASU's Nikki Girard hit a ball to left field. Johnson slid in to shallow left field to make the catch. Johnson got up throwing in time to retire the runner at second base for an inning-ending double play.
The third inning was a bit of déjà vu for Southern Miss. Johnson beat out a bunt single to third base to give the Golden Eagles a base runner. McKeever drew a free pass and the two runners advanced a base on a passed ball. For the second straight inning, Escobedo escaped trouble with back-to-back-to-back strikeouts, leaving the game scoreless.
Arizona State broke the scoreless tie with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Jennifer Soria drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. ASU's Cheyenne Coyle singled to left center field, scoring Soria and giving the home team a 1-0 advantage. A double left the Sun Devils with runners at second and third with one out, but a pop up and a sliding catch in right field by Pollock limited the scoring to just one run.
The Sun Devils increased their advantage in the bottom of the fifth inning. Soria started the inning with a walk and stole second to move into scoring position. Back-to-back one-out walks loaded the bases for the home team. Haley Steele singled up the middle, scoring the two lead runners and pushing the advantage to 3-0. Rodgers struck out the next batter and induced a foul out to Evans at first base to close out the inning.
ASU doubled its lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Girard singled to left field. Soria followed with a double to right field. The Sun Devils used a walk to load the bases. Coyle hit a line drive to third base off of the glove of Michelle Stringer. On the play, two runs came into score and runners were left on second and third. Arizona State used a sacrifice fly to center field to plate a third run in the inning, but Southern Miss was able to force a final inning with a strikeout.
In the seventh inning, the Golden Eagles were able to get an infield single by Pollock with one out, but she was left stranded as Escobedo closed the door on a comeback attempt with a pair of strikeouts.