April 27, 2014
TEMPE, Ariz. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team put together a tremendous showing against No. 5 Arizona State, but came up short, dropping a 5-0 decision on Sunday afternoon at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
In the circle, Samantha Robles earned the start and took the hard-luck loss. The true freshman pitcher surrendered just two runs, limiting the potent Sun Devil offensive to just two hits. She walked a pair of batters and struck out one in 3.0 innings of work. Robles was relieved by Shelbee Rodgers in the fourth inning. Rodgers tossed the final 3.0 innings. She allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and a strikeout. Both pitchers notched a pair of shutout innings. In addition, each pitcher had a 1-2-3 inning against the No. 5 team in the country.
Offensively, Southern Miss scratched out three base hits. Katie Cleary, Morgan McKeever and Meaghen Nelson each notched base knocks on the day. Rachel Johnson, Samantha Robles and Michelle Stringer also reached base in the game, each drawing walks.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles recorded their second straight error free game against the top 10 team. The USM defense helped keep the ASU offense limited and kept the Black and Gold close the entire game.
Southern Miss concludes the regular season with three home Conference USA games against FIU. The series is slated for Saturday and Sunday. Live stats and in-game tweets (@USMSoftball) will be available throughout the weekend. Sunday's game will serve as Senior Day for the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles threatened in the first inning. With one out, McKeever singled up the middle. She advanced to second on a ground out to the pitcher. Cleary followed with an infield-single to second base, moving McKeever to third base. With runners on the corners and two outs, ASU starting pitcher Mackenzie Popescue escaped any damage with an inning-ending strikeout.
In the second inning, Southern Miss once again threatened. With two outs, Stringer drew a free pass and Nelson followed with a single to right field. The Golden Eagles successfully executed a double steal to move each base runner 60 feet closer to home. With runners on second and third and two outs, Popescue used another strikeout to close out the inning without allowing a run.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning. The leadoff batter reached base on an infield single to second base. She stole second with one out to move into scoring position. ASU's Cheyenne Coyle put the Sun Devils on the scoreboard with a two-run home run just inside the left field foul pole. The Golden Eagles limited the damage to just two runs as a fly ball and a ground out ended the inning.
Arizona State added some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Haley Steele led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. The next batter singled to right field, just out of reach of a sliding Arielle Pollock. Southern Miss eliminated the lead runner with a fielder's choice. Rodgers induced a fly ball out for the second out of the inning. However, ASU's Katee Aguirre continued the inning with a triple down the right field line, scoring the runner on first base. The Sun Devils scored the final run on a hard hit ball through the left side of the infield. The base runner stole second and a walk continued the inning, but a fly ball to center field ended the inning with No. 5 Arizona State leading 5-0.
The Golden Eagles were unable to generate the necessary runs in the seventh inning to continue the game, falling to the fifth ranked team in the country. The game marked the 10th time this season Southern Miss played a game against a team currently in the NFCA top 10. The Golden Eagles played No. 5 Arizona State (three games), No. 6 Florida State (three games), No. 7 Alabama (one game) and No. 10 Arizona (three games).