Softball opener answers early questions


Southern Miss softball officially kicked off its 2017 season Thursday against McNeese State with a weekend-long invitational including matchups against Ball State, Iowa and No.11 Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Lady Eagles gave fans a preview of what is to be expected this season.

A main concern was the Lady Eagles’ pitching staff acquiring transfers Kim Crowson and Jade Lewis and freshman Peyton Carter.

With the return of veterans Samantha Robles, Danielle Block and Jillian Johnson, Southern Miss’ bullpen now sits at six pitchers total. Any worries regarding maturity, experience and chemistry were silenced with the past weekend’s performances.

Crowson, Johnson and Robles saw time on the mound, and all but Robles recorded a win. In Crowson’s first start of the season against Ball State, she pitched four innings, recording one run off of five hits before being relieved by Johnson, who recorded the save. Crowson’s performance was a relief for fans questioning this season’s pitching; Carter’s performance impressed as well.

In a doubleheader against No.11 UL-Lafayette, Carter and Crowson saw action on the mound. Carter pitched 2.2 innings, recording two hits with zero runs allowed, and Crowson pitched one inning, allowing no hits nor runs and collecting the save. Crowson and Carter both came in after Robles and were able to solidify the Southern Miss win, 4 – 3.

Another question surrounding the Lady Eagles was their efficiency in accumulating points with hits. Last year, the Lady Eagles had no problem hitting the ball, recording a .278 batting average and 421 hits. Southern Miss only allowed their opponents to score 26 more runs than themselves, but those runs proved valuable.

Southern Miss having nine shutout losses could potentially mean big-time wins.

In this three-day span of games, turning hits into runs was not in question for the Lady Eagles. Southern Miss recorded 26 hits and total 24 runs in the five games. The production of runs led to a win in four out of five games, and in every game where the Lady Eagles recorded five or more hits, a win was produced. Not to say that this hot hitting will be present all year, but if it is, Southern Miss will have no worries, especially with their production on the mound.

This weekend’s contest has been a great showing of this year’s Lady Eagles. If Southern Miss can continue to build this momentum and chemistry, an above 30-win season is reachable. The addition of new faces at many positions has not seemed to effect the Lady Eagles.

Southern Miss is currently 4 – 2 and looks to gain its fifth win Friday against Nicholls State.