Dec. 13, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team wrapped up its fall preparation for the 2014 season. The Golden Eagles improved as a team both on and off the field during the fall.
"We are extremely excited and proud of this team," co-head coach Jon Malgradi said. "They have come together, not only as a team, but more as a family. They have worked extremely hard this fall in the classroom and on the field. We are very excited to see the future for this team. Special things are on the horizon for this team."
On the field, USM played games against Jones County JC, Faulkner State JC, Alabama Southern CC and Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. The Golden Eagles tallied 76 total innings, notching 71 runs, while limiting opponents to just 18 runs (eight earned runs).
Southern Miss' core stable of pitchers - Shelbee Rodgers, Hannah Moore, Kaitlin Wilson, Danielle Block and Samantha Robles - combined for 58 innings pitched. Offensively, the Golden Eagles received a power surge from sluggers Katie Cleary, Mackenzie Sher, Michelle Stringer, Robles and Wilson. Arielle Pollock and Rachel Johnson added a jolt to the offense with an insertion of speed into the lineup.
The softball team capped off the fall season with the annual Black and Gold Game. The teams were divided into two rivals and squared off on the diamond. The Gold Team, captained by Sher, held on for a 6-4 victory over the Black Team.
The Golden Eagles also improved their facilities, as the softball team opened its own weight room at the Southern Miss Softball Complex. The weight room is 2,800 square feet and features weight racks, benches, free weights and conditioning bands. Outside of the weight room is a 12-yard wide, 25-yard long turf warm-up and speed training area.
The softball team also participated in some team building and leadership training. The team worked with a company called The Program, who "seek to build better leaders and more cohesive teams." The Program, under the direction of lead instructor James Slife aided the Golden Eagles with understanding and internalizing, and in doing so taking their leadership and teamwork skills to the next level - the championship level.
"The most rewarding part of my job is watching a team come together because they truly understand our ethos and core principles," stated Slife.
Off the field, Southern Miss combined for over 500 hours of community service. On Saturday, Nov. 9, the softball team worked with the Special Olympics at Camp Shelby. During the event, the team coached, umpired, kept score and cheered on participants.
The Golden Eagles also helped with various other groups around the Hattiesburg area including the Hattiesburg Animal Shelter and YMCA.
In addition, the softball team hosted the inaugural Southern Miss Softball Golf Tournament. The tournament included 88 golfers from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and the Magnolia State. The event was held at Timberton Golf Course and helped raise money for the Diamond Club.
"This was a great event," Malgradi remarked. "We want to tell all of our participants, sponsors and supporters thank you for being a part of an amazing event. We cannot wait to have the event next year and we hope to make it even more of a success in the future."