The Southern Miss Lady Eagles started their 2015 season in the Sand Dollar Classic tournament in Gulf Shores, Alabama, going 2-3 in their five contests.
In her Southern Miss Coaching debut, Wendy Hogue won her first game against Jackson State. It was the first of a two-game split on Friday. The Lady Eagles earned a 7-4 victory over the Lady Tigers.
Southern Miss came out and took command of the game early. In the bottom of the first inning, the Lady Eagles scored three runs to give them a 3-0 lead.
With Kaelyn Christofferson on third base and Sarah Evans on second, Katie Cleary hit a single that got behind the infielder and brought her teammates home.
Samantha Robles was next to bat for USM and she connected on a single, putting runners on first and third. Morgan McKeever hit a RBI single to right field to bring in the Lady Eagles’ third run of the inning.
The Lady Tigers opened the second inning knowing they needed to generate some runs to stay in the game. Southern Miss helped Jackson State out by walking the first batter and hitting the second batter with a pitch.
After a bad throw on a steal attempt, JSU was able to score their first run.
JSU saw its second runner reach home when Shelbee Rodgers threw a wild pitch. Just when it looked like the Lady Tigers were going to rally back and tie up the game, Rodgers ended the inning with a strikeout.
The Lady Eagles continued their hot hitting in the bottom of the second inning. With the score at 3-2 in USM’s favor, Christofferson got her first collegiate hit and Evans was hit by a pitch to put two Lady Eagles on base.
Cleary hit a double to center field, bringing in her teammates and pushing the USM lead to 5-2.
The Lady Tigers added a run in the top of the third inning with a sacrifice fly to trim the Southern Miss lead to 5-3.
Freshman Mallory Hayden hit her first career home run over the out stretched hand of the left fielder to push the USM lead to 6-3. The Lady Eagles added another run in the fifth when Rouse hit a single, driving in Robles for the 7-3 lead.
JSU was able to score one more run to cut the USM lead to three, but would not come any closer to the Lady Eagles.
In game two against the Lady Cougars, Southern Miss let Houston jump out to a 2-0 lead that the Lady Eagles failed to overcome.
The Lady Cougars got a two-run home run off the bat of Selena Hernandez to start the first inning. Southern Miss went scoreless in the first inning. Houston added two more runs in the bottom of the second inning.
After the Lady Cougars hit a double, a pair of walks loaded the bases for Houston. UH’s next batter drove in a runner. With the bases still loaded, Southern Miss walked a batter to give the Lady Cougars a 4-0 lead.
The Lady Eagles got their first run in the sixth inning when Evans reached home plate on a fielder’s choice, but that would be as close as the Lady Eagles would come to the Lady Cougars, as UH went on to win 4-1.
On day two of the Sand Dollar Classic the Lady Eagles split a pair of games, losing their first to McNeese State.
It did not take long for the Lady Cowgirls to get on the board. In the bottom of the first. MSU’s Victoria Yanitor hit a RBI for an early 1-0 lead.
After a scoreless second inning, the Lady Cowgirls ended the drought in the third inning. In the bottom of the third, two Lady Eagles’ errors helped MSU’s batter reach second base with no outs. A single by the next batter put MSU in scoring position. The lead runner for MSU was able to score as the trail runner was caught in a rundown.
The Lady Cowgirls’ stifled USM the rest of the way as their strong pitching and fielding carried them to a 2-0 victory over the Lady Eagles.
In the second game of the day, USM got on the board first against the Lamar Cardinals. In the first inning, Reynolds was able to come home for the Lady Eagles’ first run of the game.
The Lady Eagles scored again in the second inning, pushing their lead to 2-0. USM had runners on first and third when Arielle Pollock laid down a bunt that traveled down the first base line for a RBI.
The Cardinals got on the board in the fourth inning when their batter hit a triple to right field. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly ball deep in the center of the field to bring in her teammate and cut the Southern Miss lead to 2-1
USM exploded in the bottom of the fourth to put the game away.
With runners on first and second, Reynolds drew a walk to load the bases for the Lady Eagles. Lamar was able to retire the lead runner on a fielder’s choice, but the bases were still loaded.
Evans cleared the bases with one swing, connecting on a three-run double to left center field and giving Southern Miss a 5-1 advantage. The Cardinals were able to score one more run in the final inning to make it a 5-2 ball game, but that was as close as Lamar would come to Southern Miss.
On the final day of the Sand Dollar Classic, Southern Miss fell to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 6-5. USM almost completed the comeback, even after FGCU jumped to a six-run lead after the top of the first inning.
In the bottom of the first, USM was able to cut into the lead after Evans reached second on a double to left center. Cleary was walked to give USM runners on first and second. Evans was able to score after the next batters were hit by pitches.
After a scoreless second inning, USM cut the lead to 6-2 in the third. McKeever reached first on a throwing error and made it to second on a groundout. Selena Estrada brought McKeever home on a single that got behind the first baseman.
After two scoreless innings, Southern Miss cut the Florida Gulf Coast lead in half in the sixth. Peyton Garner came in to pinch run for Hayden. Reynolds brought Garner home on a sacrifice fly, cutting the lead down to three.
USM was able to get within two runs when Evans scored off of a Robles single down to left field and Cleary scored on a groundout to bring Southern Miss within one run of Florida Gulf Coast.
With two outs and a game-tying runner on third, Estrada grounded out to the short stop to end the game and seal the 6-5 victory for Florida Gulf Coast.
The Lady Eagles will return to action on Friday in the Lion Classic in Hammond, Louisiana. Their first game will be against Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 3 p.m.