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Golden Eagle Softballers Open Conference USA Play against Houston

Caroline Walker

March 8, 2013

Saturday, March 9 vs. Houston (1:00 p.m. CT)
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Saturday, March 9 vs. Houston (3:00 p.m. CT)
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Sunday, March 10 vs. Houston (12:00 p.m. CT)
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The Last Meeting
Southern Miss1
May 6, 2012
Houston, Texas
Golden Eagles Fall in Regular Season Finale at Houston
Houston hit three homeruns and racked up 13 hits to earn a 7-1 victory over Southern Miss on Sunday at the Cougar Softball Stadium.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss begins in 15th season of Conference USA softball on Saturday when they host rival Houston in a three-game set, beginning with a 1 p.m. doubleheader, at the Southern Miss Softball Complex.

The Golden Eagles (10-14) are coming off a third-place showing at the Florida State Renegade Classic in which they defeat No. 25 Florida State, the program's first win over a ranked foe in two seasons.

Against Houston (10-7), Southern Miss is facing one of C-USA's top pitching staffs. Summer Groholski (4-2) and Bailey Watts (5-2) have combined for all but one of the Cougar's victories this season and have allowed just 33 runs over 84 innings. Houston has also swept the Golden Eagles in every series dating bating to the 2010 season and currently have won 12 of the last 14 meetings.

A surge of youth, however, by the Golden Eagles and tough non-conference schedule early in the season have coach Jon Malgradi and Kirsten Voak's squad primed and ready to open conference play.

"We've said all along, the reason for a difficult non-conference schedule is to get prepared for C-USA play," said Malgradi. "We're at that point now and I think we've grown up a lot over the first month of the season. Our younger players are making the plays you want to see as a coach. It means we've learned things along the way and that's a very good thing to see."

Leading the charge at the plate, sophomore Caroline Walker and freshman Morgan McKeever - the one and two hole hitters for the Golden Eagles - carry .362 and .316 averages, respectively, into the weekend.

Walker, a Woodville, Miss., native, is also one of C-USA's most fearsome hitters, ranking in the top five on-base percentage (4th), runs scored (2th), hits (4th), RBI (5th), while leading the conference in doubles with nine total entering the weekend.

Junior catcher Mackenzie Sher also leads the league in home runs with six while three Golden Eagles (Walker, Taylor Beck, Sarah Evans) are proving the team to be patient at the plate, taking the top three spots in C-USA in walks.

In the circle, the Golden Eagles have the sixth-best staff in the league, sporting a 3.28 team ERA, led by senior Beth Dietrich's 2.62 mark. Senior Kimberly Wagner and freshman Kaitlin Wilson have gotten the majority of the innings this season and have combined for a 10-8 record over 123.1 innings.

Southern Miss will wrap up the series with the Cougars on Sunday with first pitch set for Noon at the Complex.

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, or like Southern Miss Softball on Facebook.

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