May 9, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - UAB's Chandler Orr singled to lead off the 10th inning and came in on Kate Armstrong's squeeze bunt as No. 1 seed UAB rallied to defeat No. 8 seed Southern Miss, 3-2, on Thursday in the opening round of the 2013 Conference USA Championship held at Collins Family Field in Tulsa, Okla.
It was the first ever extra-inning game for Southern Miss in the C-USA tournament and just the third time the Golden Eagles and Blazers have gone past regulation. The game was also the longest game, by innings, between the two programs and by time for the season for Southern Miss.
Additionally, it was the tightest a No. 8 seed had ever played a No. 1 seed in tournament history.
"Our staff, even in this result, couldn't be prouder of our girls today," said co-head coach Jon Malgradi following the two-and-a-half hour long game. "Our team gave every single ounce of effort they had today and that's all you can ever ask for out of your squad. No one ever wants to end a season with a loss, but the way we played today and the amount of heart and will we showed makes this coaching staff so proud of our Golden Eagles."
The regular season champions went with hurler Leigh Streetman to silence the Golden Eagle bats after the junior had shutdown Southern Miss over 11.2 innings of hitless softball in the regular season series.
But, freshman Morgan McKeever quickly broke that streak, recording a one-out single into right field in the first inning. However, the Golden Eagles could do nothing with it, stranding her at first after a pop out and ground out.
Southern Miss broke the scoring deadlock in the second inning - their first run against the Blazers in the past 26 innings dating back to the 2012 home finale - as Taylor Beck got a one-out double to the left center gap. After a fielding error by UAB's Caitlin Attfield on a Katie Cleary batted ball put runners at second and third, a deep sacrifice fly to center field from Michelle Stringer plated Beck and made it 1-0.
The No. 8 seeded Eagles added to their lead, 2-0, in the third as McKeever reached on a fielder's choice before coming in on senior Danielle LaPointe's first career triple, a gaper to right center that fell just out of the reach of center fielder Whitney Fletcher's glove.
UAB threatened to score in their half of the third after Attfield reached third on a two-out throwing error and a walk put runners on the corners, but after a quick meeting in the circle from catcher Mackezier Sher, Dietrich settled back in and got a fly out to right field to end the inning.
In the fourth, Lannah Campbell, an All-C-USA first teamer, came in to relieve Streetman and settled the Golden Eagle bats, striking out five of the first seven batters she faced into the fifth.
Chandler Orr cut the lead in half for the Blazers in the fifth with a two-out solo homer to left field, her fourth roundtripper of the season. The run ended Beth Dietrich's string of 16.1 scoreless innings of work.
The Blazers tied it up with their second solo homer in as many innings as Fletcher led off the sixth with one of her own. After the roundtripper, however, Dietrich got the final three outs and got the game to the seventh all tied up.
In the seventh, Campbell continued her strong day in the circle and finished regulation having retired 12 of the 14 batters she faced with eight by strikeout - all swinging. At the plate, the Blazers threatened multiple times with a base runner, but two big diving catches, one from Evans and another in left field on the line from fellow freshman Jenifer Gary.
When it was all said and done, Campbell (12-4) finished the day striking out 12 of the 25 she faced to earn the win while allowing three hits and shutting out the Eagles. Dietrich, whose pitching carried the Golden Eagles into the postseason, suffered the hard-luck loss while giving up seven hits and three runs, while walking two and striking out four over 9.1 innings of work.
The loss ends the 2-13 campaign for the Golden Eagles who will now transition into their summer workout program to prepare for the fall. It was also the final game for three Golden Eagle seniors, LaPointe, Dietrich and Kimberly Wagner.
To get the most up-to-date information on Southern Miss Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @USMSoftball, get live stats via the Gametracker platform from SouthernMiss.com, or like Southern Miss Softball on Facebook.