Lady Eagles claim double header, drop finale

Freshman Arielle Pollock attempts to get on base with a slap hit earlier in the season.  Hunt Mercier/Printz
Freshman Arielle Pollock attempts to get on base with a slap hit earlier in the season.
Hunt Mercier/Printz

The University of Southern Mississippi softball team traveled to Ruston, La. and took two of three from Louisiana Tech at Lady Techsters Complex over the weekend.

Pitching was the key for both teams on Friday; however, Southern Miss stepped up when they needed to, defeating Louisiana Tech 2-0 in the series opener. Shelbee Rodgers recorded her team-leading 15th victory on the season, ranking sixth in school history and tying with Samantha Davis (2009) and Jessica Holloway (2002 and 2003).

Lady Techsters pitcher Pauline Tufi pitched three perfect innings, striking out her first 11 batters at home plate. The Golden Eagles, despite giving up three hits and a walk to Louisiana Tech in the first three innings, managed to strand the runners on the bases without allowing a run.

In the fourth inning, with two outs, USM’s Mackenzie Sher hit a double to left center field. Katie Cleary followed with a flare to center field, allowing Sher to score to give Southern Miss a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the seventh, the Lady Eagles scored another run. Cleary hit an infield single down to third base, followed by Sarah Evans with an RBI double to center field, scoring Tori Rouse.

Rodgers threw a perfect inning to end the game with 15 strikeouts and threw seven shutout innings for the game.

In game two of the Friday doubleheader, Louisiana Tech jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning. The Lady Techsters capitalized on a one-out walk, using back-to-back two-out singles to take a 1-0 lead.

La. Tech continued to increase its lead in the fourth inning. Anna Cross blasted a two-out, two RBI home run deep to center field to give the Lady Techsters a 3-0 advantage.

Southern Miss controlled the fifth inning though, taking the lead. After Samantha Robles reached on an error, Mikayla Davis entered the game as a pinch runner. Then, Evans connected on a single to centerfield, advancing Davis to third base.

Taylor Beck scored Davis on a ground ball and advanced Rouse to third. Beck then stole second and in the attempt to get her out, Rouse was able to score another run for the Lady Eagles. Later in the inning Michelle Stringer, a two RBI single to give the Lady Eagles a 4-3 advantage.

Much like the first game, the Lady Eagles relied on pitching to close out the game. Southern Miss brought in Rodgers to close out the game. She struck out the first seven batters she faced before giving up a one-out single in the seventh inning. Robles pitched the first four innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, three strikeouts and a pair of walks.

After winning both games of the double header Friday, Louisiana Tech shut out the Lady Eagles in the series finale, 7-0 Saturday afternoon.

With runners on the corners in the first inning, La. Tech pitcher Pauline Tufi blasted a home run down the left field line to give the Lady Techsters a 3-0 lead.

In the second inning, Louisiana Tech tacked on to its lead. Following a pinch hit walk, a bunt and a single to load the bases, Tufi hit a three-RBI double deep to right field clearing the bases and increasing the lead to 6-0. Tufi advanced to third on a throw home on the play and later tagged up on a foul ball to make it 7-0.

Down 7-0 after two innings, Southern Miss managed to keep the Lady Techsters in check through the final four innings; however, the Lady Eagles could not come through offensively in the game.

For the game, Southern Miss had a total of four hits, including a pair of doubles. Katie Cleary, Sarah Evans, Morgan McKeever and Meaghen Nelson each had one hit. Evans hit her ninth double on the season, tying her total from her freshman season while Nelson hit her sixth for the season.

Rodgers started the game for USM, giving up six runs on four hits, two walks and a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings. Danielle Brock came in and pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits and a strikeout. Robles threw the last three innings without allowing a run.

Southern Miss returns home this week to play nationally ranked Alabama Tuesday in a single game at Southern Miss Softball Complex. Game time is set for 6 p.m.