Freshmen propel Golden Eagles to two Saturday wins

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Photo by: Brad Crowe

The Southern Miss softball team is now 4-0 on the young season after earning an 8-6 win over Tennessee Tech and an 9-1 run-rule win over Houston Baptist on Saturday during the Black and Gold Invitational. Freshman left fielder Madison Rayner had two big games at the plate and pitcher Kaylan Ladner had a solid performance in her first start in the circle.

Southern Miss got on the board early in the bottom of the first inning on a Destini Brown sacrifice fly, which was followed by a run scored by sophomore Alyssa Davis on a Heather Hill groundout.

Southern Miss extended the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third when freshman Madison Rayner hit a solo home run to right field. The home run was Rayner’s first hit and home run as a Golden Eagle.

“I just got in there and just waited for that pitch,” Rayner said. “I was just going to swing as hard as I can and luckily it went over.”

Tennessee Tech added two runs in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Southern Miss lead to 3-2, but a four-run fourth inning gave the team some cushion. Following a Davis home run, Rayner once again generated more offense for the team with a two-RBI single. Brown added the team’s third home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning to put Southern Miss up 8-2.

Tennessee Tech cut the lead to two points after scoring two runs in the sixth and two in the seventh inning, but junior pitcher Abby Trahan held on for the complete game win in her second start at Southern Miss.

Trahan finished the game by recording six strikeouts, one walk and allowing seven hits and two earned runs. Through two games, Trahan’s ERA stands at 1.50.

Against Houston Baptist in the second game of the day for the Golden Eagles, Southern Miss amassed an early lead over the Huskies. A one-out RBI single from senior Sarah Van Schaik allowed Rayner to cross the plate for the first run. That was followed by a two-RBI double from junior Lacey Sumerlin. Sophomore Kaley Fruge closed out the inning with an RBI single to left field that scored Sumerlin.

Senior Chase Nelson scored a run in the bottom of the second inning on a Davis RBI single to extend the lead to 6-0, but the Golden Eagles were shut out by Houston Baptist in the third and fourth innings, but Ladner and the Southern Miss defense kept the Huskies at bay offensively. Ladner held Houston Baptist hitless until giving up a double in the top of the fifth inning.

Ladner said she was not thinking about the no-hitter she had on the board until the fifth inning.

“The pace of the game was going pretty quickly, and I knew it was just high energy,” Ladner said. “It really didn’t cross my mind.”

The Huskies scored one run off of an RBI single on the next at-bat, but Rayner sealed the game for the Golden Eagles in the bottom of the fifth inning. After an RBI double by Sumerlin scored Davis in the inning, Rayner hit a two-RBI double to center field that allowed Fruge and freshman Caroline Casey to score.

The double put the eight-run rule in effect and allowed the Golden Eagles to come away with the 9-1 win, their second run-rule win over Houston Baptist in the tournament.

Ladner finished her first start with three strikeouts and allowed just one earned run on two hits. Ladner also threw just 44 total pitches in the contest.

“That’s a great first win for Ladner,” Southern Miss head coach Wendy Hogue said. “She’s very composed, she’s just a competitor. She wants the ball all the time and she is so calm and cool. You call the pitch, and 99 out of 100 times she’s going to hit that spot.”

The Golden Eagles will close out the Black and Gold Invitational against Jackson State at 3 p.m. on Sunday.