Lady Eagles Snap Losing Streak, But Drop Series to UTEP

Morgan McKeever led off the first inning in game two with a single up the middle at the game against the UTEP Miners this weekend. The team traveled to El Paso, Texas and lost two out of the three games. -Courtesy photo/Joe Harper

Southern Miss traveled to El Paso, Texas, to take on the UTEP Miners this weekend, but lost two of three games. The Lady Eagles dropped to 16-18 overall and 2-10 in conference play.

In game one, USM put the first runs on the scoreboard in the third inning. With two outs, Kaelyn Christofferson singled to third base, facing a full count. Christofferson stole second base, followed by a Katie Cleary walk.

Mallory Hayden struck out swinging, but the UTEP catcher mishandled the ball and fired it to first, overthrowing it and sending Christofferson across home plate.  Sarah Evans then crushed a stand up RBI double to left center field to give USM the early 2-0 lead.

UTEP responded with a four-run scoring frenzy in the bottom of the third inning. Tahla Wade led off with a bunt down the first base line and reached first base safely.

Jade Rodriguez followed with a  single to shortstop, advancing Wade to second base. The Miners continued their small ball attack with another bunt for a single down the first base line for Kawehiokalani Netane.

The bases were loaded for the Miners with three hits in a row, none of them leaving the infield. Ashley Eldridge then launched a grand slam to center field, giving the Miners a 4-2 lead.

The Southern Miss offense retaliated in the top of the sixth inning. Hayden led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Rachel Johnson. Evans’ bat remained hot, singling through the right side, but Johnson was thrown out at third.

Evans advanced to second on the throw and third on a passed ball. Selena Estrada and Bailey Stokes both walked, loading up the bases for USM. Jenifer Gary came in to pinch-hit for Rodgers and cleared the bases with a three-run single to left center field, giving Southern Miss a 5-4 lead.

The Miners were able to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning when Kiki Pepi nailed an RBI single to left center.

USM’s defense had to hold UTEP scoreless in the seventh in order to force extra innings. UTEP’s Eldridge singled up the middle, setting up Courtney Clayton’s walk-off home run to center field to seal the 7-5 victory.

Morgan McKeever led off the first inning in game two with a single up the middle. Estrada sacrifice bunted for an out at first, advancing McKeever to second base. McKeever then advanced to third on an illegal pitch, setting up Evans’ RBI groundout to second base. USM quickly took a 1-0 lead over the Miners.

Netane knocked a home run over the right field fence, tying the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first. The Miners notched another run in the second inning with a Taylor Sargent RBI triple, giving UTEP a 2-1 edge.

The Southern Miss offense came alive in the fourth inning, scoring three runs on four hits.

Jordan Beck led off with a singled to right center field. Cleary then walked on four pitches and Hayden advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.

Arielle Pollock then singled through the right side, scoring Garner from third base. Samantha Reynolds followed with a walk, loading up the bases for USM.

Gary was called up to pinch hit again with bases loaded and delivered with an RBI single to score Cleary and gave USM a 3-2 lead. Estrada then singled to right field, scoring Reynolds and increasing the Southern Miss lead to 4-2.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Miners added two more runs to tie the game 4-4, but the USM offense was not settling this game. They retaliated with seven more runs on eight hits in the fifth inning.

Cleary, Estrada and Evans each had RBI extra-base hits in the rally to increase the lead to 11-4. The offensive explosion marked the 11th time this season the Lady Eagles batted around.

In the sixth inning, slap-hitter Pollock crushed a home run to right center field, adding another run for USM 12-4.

Eldridge led off the sixth inning for the Miners with a home run of her own to avoid being run-ruled by USM. Garcia notched another Miner run with a single to shortstop, cutting the USM lead in half, 12-6.

Southern Miss loaded up the bases in the seventh inning when Hayden was hit by a pitch to score a run, 13-6.

Danielle Block was able to work out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh to secure the win, snapped USM’s 10-game losing streak.

McKeever and Cleary each had three hits while Estrada, Beck, Evans and Pollock all had two hits a piece.

In game three, USM came out hot offensively, scoring three runs in the first. McKeever led off with a single to left field, followed by Evans reaching on an error. Beck then reached first on another Miner fielding error, loading up the bases for USM.

Cleary then drilled a single up the middle to score McKeever and Evans. Hayden singled to left field to add another run for USM in the opening frame.

UTEP responded by scoring six runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning. Rodriguez bunted to the pitcher who made a wild throw to first, sending a Miner across home plate. The Miners scored two more runs on a couple RBI doubles from Eldridge and Netane. Pepi had an RBI single, giving UTEP a 4-3 lead.

USM went to the bullpen, bringing in Block to relieve Johnson. The Miners scratched two more runs after the pitching change, increasing their lead to 6-3 after the first inning.

In the first inning alone, both teams combined for nine hits, nine runs, five errors, one illegal pitch and both teams batted through their lineups.

UTEP notched another run in the second inning on an RBI single by Eldridge, facing a full count. The Lady Eagles were held hitless and scoreless throughout the second, third and fourth innings.

In the fifth inning, the Miners increased their lead to 10-3 when Clayton crushed a three-run home run to left field. USM was able to scratch a run across in the seventh, but it would not be nearly enough as the Lady Eagles fell 10-4.

Johnson (2-5) took the loss for the USM pitching staff, giving up five hits and one walk.

The Lady Eagles will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to face the Crimson Tide Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.