March 14, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi is set to host its first Conference USA home series of the season as the Golden Eagles welcome Middle Tennessee to the Southern Miss Softball Complex. The Golden Eagles and Blue Raiders are slated for a doubleheader on Saturday (1:00 p.m.) before concluding the weekend series with a single game on Sunday (1:00 p.m.).
The series against Middle Tennessee will be Kids Weekend. All kids wearing a team jersey will receive free admission. On Saturday, the first 100 kids in attendance will receive a free Southern Miss spirit band. After Sunday's game, there will be a postgame softball clinic for kids in attendance.
Southern Miss enters the weekend with an 11-13 (.458) overall record, including a 2-1 mark in Conference USA. The opening conference weekend victory was the first for the Golden Eagles since 2006, when Southern Miss defeated Marshall 2 games to 1 in Hattiesburg. In addition, the series victory was first time since sweeping Houston in 2002 that Southern Miss won an opening C-USA series on the road.
The Golden Eagles began C-USA play, batting .282 as a team, going 24-for-85. The Black and Gold combined to score 20 runs with 17 runs batted in. Southern Miss notched a double and two home runs in its opening weekend, including a grand slam.
Prior to hosting Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss played a three-game nonconference series with Alcorn State. The Golden Eagles swept the series, run-ruling the Lady Braves in each game. The Black and Gold won 13-0, 10-0 and 8-0. Southern Miss batted .485 in the series as a team, notching three doubles, two triples and three home runs as a team. The team scored 31 runs and boasted 25 RBI; drew seven walks, was hit by three pitches and struck out just once.
In the circle, three pitchers combined for a trio of shutouts. Shelbee Rodgers and Kaitlin Wilson combined for a five-inning shutout in game one, while Samantha Robles notched a no-hitter in the second game of the twin bill. In the series finale, Rodgers worked a complete-game shutout for her second win of the week. The trio combined for 23 strikeouts with just three walks. Alcorn State batted .061 against Southern Miss, mustering just three base hits.
Scouting the Opposition
The Blue Raiders recently played C-USA front runner North Texas March 8-9 and were swept by the Mean Green in the three-game match-up. The first day featured the first C-USA doubleheader of the season with North Texas taking games one and two 5-1 and 8-1, respectively.
In the final contest Sunday, MT scored five runs against the Mean Green, which was more than the last four games combined but fell to North Texas 11-5. Kayla Toney hit her fifth home run of the season and 18th of her career in the third inning and moving her into a tie with Melissa Weiland for fourth on the career home run list.