A pair of pitching debuts and hot bats helped guide the Golden Eagles to an 8-0 win over Houston Baptist and then a 12-4 win over Central Arkansas on Friday.
“Game one I thought there some jitters there,” Southern Miss head coach Wendy Hogue said. “Defensively we didn’t have any errors. Abby was not without blemish but man she did the job. I thought they played well the first game. Anytime that you can get a shutout and play five innings that’s a good day.”
Southern Miss totaled eight hits against the Huskies with senior Sarah Van Schaik starting the day with a two-run RBI double in the first inning.
In the fourth inning, the Golden Eagles broke the game open with a home run from Heather Hill, a sac fly from Van Schaik and a fielding error that scored two more runs.
In the following inning, senior Chase Nelson’s RBI single and then a two-run error by Houston Baptist’s shortstop gave all the runs the Golden Eagles needed for the win.
In the circle against Houston Baptist, junior transfer Abby Trahan made her debut in the mercy rule win. In her opening outing against Houston Baptist, Trahan allowed three hits, two walks and struck out three batters.
Southern Miss continued to have offensive success against Central Arkansas in the 6 p.m. contest, as the Golden Eagles run-ruled the Bears.
After scoring a run off a bad throw while sophomore Destini Brown was stealing second base, the bats were again kicked off by Van Schaik, who hit another RBI double. To close the inning out, sophomore Alyssa Davis hit an RBI double that scored Van Schaik putting Southern Miss up 3-0.
From there the Golden Eagles’ bats never stopped as the team accumulated 14 hits in the game. For Samantha Papp, who went 2-for-4 and hit 2 RBIs, the difference has been the team’s preparation.
“I think it’s also entirely in the preparation we’ve done,” Papp said. “Our coaching staff has been very intentional in each practice we do. Every time we step in the box we have a goal, ‘we’re working on this skill today and were trying to accomplish this today’ and so by the time we get to a game, it’s like we’ve done all the work and we just get to go hard. That takes a lot of the thinking out of it and it makes it more fun.”
In the circle, freshmen pitchers Makenna Pierce and Kaylan Ladner made their debuts. Pierce took the bulk of the workload, pitching five innings while allowing three runs on five hits, three walks and also striking out two batters. Ladner closed the game out in the sixth inning by giving up a run, one walk and striking out one.
“I thought you saw a little bit of freshman jitters there, but those two kids are winners,” Hogue said. “They know how to get it done [and] they love to compete. I love that the team playing behind them showed them that they don’t have to be perfect and that they have got their back. I love that the team answered back every time Central Arkansas scored.”
Southern Miss will be back in action on day two of the Southern Miss Black and Gold invite playing back-to-back games starting at 5 p.m.