Southern Miss softball opens the season with a sweep of the Black and Gold Invitational

HATTIESBURG, Ms – Southern Miss softball swept the Black and Gold invitational to open the 2023 campaign. This marks the first 3-0 start in the program since 2019.

Game 1

Southern Miss softball opened the Black & Gold Invitational against the Seton Hall Pirates. 

This game had many firsts as it was Southern Miss’s first win of the season, new head coach Natalie Poole’s first Southern Miss win and game, and multiple freshman’s first hit and run.  

Starting USM pitcher Morgan Leinstock would lead the way in this game as she would hold the Pirates to no runs until the ninth inning. 

Leinstock’s performance was paramount because the Southern Miss offense was non-existent until the ninth inning as well. 

The Pirates finally recorded the team’s first run in the top of the ninth to take a slight 1-0 lead. 

Southern Miss had one last opportunity to respond, and they did in that ninth inning. 

Needing a run to tie the game, freshman Kinsely Gordon would get her first collegiate hit to score Natalie Taylor to tie the game 1-1. 

The game would finally come down to junior Maria Smith at the plate with bases loaded, but the pitcher bails Southern Miss out with a walk to end the game and earn freshman Shelby Allen her first collegiate run, which made the score 2-1, and a win for the Golden Eagles

Game 2

The Golden Eagles and Leinstock continued their strong start to the season in the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday against the Samford Bulldogs. Leinstock has proven to play an important role already to begin this season. 

“She’s a competitor… even to me like if she weren’t feeling her very best, she knows how to compete,” Poole says. “There’s a high level of maturity there and knowledge about what she needs to do to accomplish some great things.” 

Both teams struggled offensively due to the high level of pitching and defense. 

Southern Miss would earn a run early in the game at the bottom of the 1st with a sacrifice flyout from Jana Lee to score Maria Smith. 

The Bulldogs would struggle from this point to score runs as they had multiple opportunities where players were left on base. 

The Golden Eagles would finally extend their lead in the fifth inning with a two-run RBI single from Hannah Borden, making the lead 3-0. 

Leinstock would then come out for the last couple of innings to handle her business, pitching a shutout for the entire game. 

This performance adds to Leinstock’s electric start to the season as the Golden Eagles move to 2-0 in regular season play.  

Game 3

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Golden Eagles started their first game of the season without Leinstock on the mound and had to find other ways to get past Samford. 

Jana Lee started the game for the Golden Eagles and had a solid start to the game, but started to struggle. Poole went to the bullpen with a pitching change to Paige Kilgore, who was the solution to this problem.

“We weren’t getting some of the calls that we were hoping for… and I don’t think that Ja (Jana) was doing a bad job,” Coach Poole said. “So, we brought Paige in just to give a different look.” 

Hannah Borden was an exception today with both teams’ offensive struggles. She was the one Southern Miss player with zero problems at the plate in this doubleheader. 

Borden busted this game open with a first-inning two-run home run to give the Golden Eagles the early 2-0 lead. 

“I kind of expected her to do that, but just because of what I’ve seen from her on a daily basis,” Poole said. “Today, she just had a great day and stepped up.” 

Samford would go on to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the second inning, but this would be the Bulldog’s last points of the game due to the stifling defense from the Golden Eagles. 

Once again, Borden would come through big time and score the game-clinching run in the bottom of the second with an RBI double.  

Kilgore and the defense would hold firm throughout the rest of the game to earn Southern Miss the sweep.

This puts the Golden Eagles at 3-0 early in this regular season as they now prepare for Alcorn State next Friday at 6 pm.