May 4, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team fought hard, but dropped a 5-0 decision to FIU in the season finale at the Southern Miss Softball Complex. The Golden Eagles recognized a pair of seniors - Taylor Beck and Mackenzie Sher - following the game for their efforts over the past several years.
Southern Miss tallied four hits on the afternoon with Rachel Johnson, Morgan McKeever, Meaghen Nelson and Beck each recording back knocks. Michelle Stringer reached base twice with a pair of walks while Sher also drew a base on balls. The Golden Eagles were unable to push through a run, stranding six base runners, including three in scoring position.
In the circle, Shelbee Rodgers tossed her team-leading 21st complete game of the season. She surrendered five runs on nine hits in 7.0 innings of work. Rodgers walked five batters with two strikeouts. Despite the loss, Rodgers finished the season sixth in the Southern Miss record books for a season in wins with 15. She also ranked fifth in a season in shutouts (7) and strikeouts (168) in the USM annals.
FIU plated a run in the top of the second inning to take an early 1-0 lead. The leadoff batter singled to center field. With one out, the next batter beat out a bunt single to move the lead runner into scoring position. A third single of the inning loaded the bases. The Panthers used a sacrifice fly to left field to scratch the scoreboard. Rodgers induced a pop up to Sarah Evans at first base to close out the inning.
Southern Miss broke up the potential no-hit bid in the bottom of the third inning. Beck, who was the designated player in her final game as a Golden Eagle, lined a single through the right side of the infield for the first hit of the game. The Black and Gold were unable to advance a runner past first base, leaving the game stalled at 1-0.
The Panthers added a run in the top of the fifth inning. FIU used a walk and a single to place a pair of runners on base. The Panthers doubled their advantage with a RBI groundout to Meaghen Nelson at second base. The visitors used a hit batter to load the bases. Stringer thwarted a bunt attempt, flipping the ball out of her glove to Sher to cut down the lead runner. Stringer followed that with a snag of a line drive to close out the inning.
FIU added an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, FIU's Nicole Rascon tripled to left field to put a runner in scoring position. The next batter followed with a RBI single. The visitors bunted the runner over to second base, but a pop up to second base ended the inning.
Trailing 3-0, Southern Miss threatened in the top of the sixth inning. Johnson singled up the middle and McKeever followed with a single. After a pitching change, the two runners advanced 60 feet on a wild pitch. The Panthers were able to escape the inning without any damage as a foul out, a shallow fly ball to left field and a groundout ended the inning.
In the seventh inning the Panthers added a pair of insurance runs. A single and two walks loaded the bases with no outs for FIU. The next batter grounded out, driving in a run. The visitors used a sacrifice run to score the final run of the game.
The Golden Eagles threatened in the bottom of the seventh. Nelson singled through the left side of the infield to start the inning. Arielle Pollock was hit by a pitch and Stringer walked to load the bases with no outs. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Panthers used an unlikely triple play to end the game. The Black and Gold flied out to center field. The lead runner strayed away from the base to force a throw. The FIU third baseman caught the ball and quickly threw to second base, catching the USM player drifting away from the base. The runner at third faked home to try to induce a throw and allow the runner on first to advance. However, the Panthers threw to first, catching the runner off the bag for the final out of the game.
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