WKU’s Hot Pitching Silences Lady Eagles

The Southern Miss softball team fell 8-0 Sunday afternoon against Western Kentucky. Danielle Block earned the start of the game and was charged with the loss. -Kara Davidson

Southern Miss traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky this weekend taking on the 24-7 Lady Toppers for the first time on the softball field. Southern Miss dropped the series as their conference record fell to 2-12 and 16-23 overall.

Morgan McKeever led off with a walk for the Lady Eagles, now reaching base in 36 of 38 games this season. Samantha Reynolds followed with a bunt for a single, advancing McKeever to second base.

Katie Cleary was hit by a full count pitch, loading up the bases. Mallory Hayden stepped up to the plate and all runners advanced on a wild pitch, giving Southern Miss an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Western Kentucky responded with five runs of their own on only one hit. Larissa Franklin led off with a walk, stole second and then reached third on a wild pitch by Shelbee Rodgers. After another Lady Topper walk, Franklin scored on an illegal pitch.

Two more illegal pitches and a walk later, Danielle Block came in to relieve Rodgers on the mound.  Block could not slow down WKU’s rally as Carleigh Chaumont crushed a grand slam to left field, giving the Lady Toppers a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

WKU added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kayti Hanson was hit by a pitch, setting up Dani Pugh’s two-run home run to left field.

The Lady Eagles showed signs of life in the top of the seventh inning when Bailey Stokes doubled off the left center field wall.  Rachel Johnson came in to pinch run and scampered to third base on a passed ball. Jordan Beck drew a walk with two outs, but McKeever flew out to end the game.

The Southern Miss offense was halted by a stellar pitching performance from WKU’s Miranda Kramer, tossing eleven strikeouts and only walking two.

The Lady Eagles fell 7-1 in game one. Rodgers (4-10) took the loss for the USM pitching staff, giving up three walks and three runs. USM kept pace with the Lady Toppers having five hits to their four, but illegal pitches, walks and errors were key in the loss for Southern Miss.

In game two, the Lady Eagles were looking to cut down on the costly errors and illegal pitches.

The game remained scoreless until WKU notched the first run in the third inning. Jacqueline McGill led off with a single to center field on the first pitch she saw.  Brooke Holloway then sacrifice bunted to the pitcher who attempted to throw McGill out at second, but made a wild throw. McGill then scored, giving WKU a 1-0 lead.

The WKU offense heated up in the fifth inning. Holloway and Franklin had back-to-back singles followed by Hanson being hit by a pitch from Jillian Johnson. Pugh added a run with an RBI single. Chaumont crushed a double to right field, sending three Lady Toppers across home plate.

Emily Wood then relieved Johnson on the mound and prevented any more damage by the hot WKU bats by forcing a ground out to end the inning.

The Lady Eagles could not generate enough hits to catch up with WKU and lost game two 6-0. Southern Miss had three total hits all coming from the third inning.

Another impressive pitching performance from the Lady Toppers stumped USM’s offense. Janna Scheff and Hannah Parker combined for seven strikeouts, only giving up one walk, three hits and no runs.

The two errors committed by USM proved to be costly. Johnson (2-6) collected the loss for Southern Miss giving up seven hits and having one strikeout.

Game three began Sunday at 1 p.m. The Lady Toppers were able to notch the first run of the game when Presile Cruce knocked an RBI single to left field in the first inning.

WKU added two more runs to their lead the next inning. Holloway doubled to right field on a 3-1 pitch from Block. Hanson followed with a double, scoring Holloway and herself on a USM outfield error. Errors have been costly throughout this series for the Lady Eagles.

The Lady Toppers led 3-0. Southern Miss was held scoreless for all five innings due to another excellent pitching performance from WKU’s Kramer.

The WKU offense exploded for five runs on six hits in the bottom of the third inning. Chaumont led off the rally with a solo home run shot to left field on the second pitch she saw from Block. Block walked the next batter and was then relieved by Wood.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Hanson singled and advanced to second on the throw, then was sent home on a throwing error by USM. All three runners on base also scored, increasing their lead to 8-0.

Southern Miss had to score at least one run to avoid the run-rule, but could not string enough hits together and lost game three 8-0 in five innings. Kramer shut down the USM offense throughout all five innings, tossing 10 strikeouts and only walking one. Block took the loss for USM, giving up seven hits and five runs while striking out one.

Southern Miss had two total hits in game three compared to WKU’s 13 hits.

The Lady Eagles will travel to Oxford, Mississippi Wednesday for a rescheduled doubleheader against the Ole Miss Rebels at 4 and 6:30  p.m.