Senior Shelbee Rodgers pitches at the first Southern Miss home game against Mississippi Valley State winning the series this weekend. -Susan Broadbridge
Southern Miss hosted Mississippi Valley State in their home opener this weekend, sweeping them in a three-game series.
Friday night, head coach Wendy Hogue earned her first career home victory with the Lady Eagles, defeating the Devilettes, 5-2.
Senior pitcher Shelbee Rodgers came out hot, striking out all three batters she faced in the top of the first inning. The Southern Miss defense was able to hold off MVSU’s offense from scoring through three innings.
The Lady Eagles broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Selena Estrada walked on a 3-2 count. Samantha Reynolds singled with a bunt, advancing Estrada to second base.
Sarah Evans was hit by the second pitch she saw, loading the bases for the Lady Eagles. Katie Cleary grounded out to the shortstop, but scored Estrada from third base, giving USM a 1-0 lead.
Mallory Hayden then followed up with a two-RBI single to right center field, sparking the Southern Miss offense. McKeever gave USM its third hit in a row to score Hayden and increase the Southern Miss lead to 4-0.
The Devilettes responded when Sharia Cormier grounded out to second base, but brought Ikeyia Alexander across home plate cutting the USM lead to 4-1. In the top of the sixth, MVSU scored another run as Brandi Williams singled in a run, cutting the lead to 4-2.
With bases loaded and one out, Rodgers was replaced by sophomore Samantha Robles. Robles struck out the next two batters, getting USM out of the jam.
Estrada grounded out to the shortstop in the top of the sixth, bringing Arielle Pollock across home plate, and giving USM their final run of the night.
“I thought we played good defense and made some adjustments,” Hogue said. “I’d rather score in a few more innings. Only scoring in two innings is not a lot of fun, but as long as we come out with more runs than they do at the end of the game, that’s a good day.”
In the first game Saturday, USM was determined to get off to a quicker start offensively.
In the bottom of the first inning, back-to-back walks from McKeever and Reynolds set up Sarah Evans’ shot up the middle for an RBI double. Cleary followed with an RBI ground out to first base, scoring Reynolds from third. Robles then drilled the ball over third base for an RBI single, increasing the lead to 3-0.
Hayden continued the momentum for USM as she crushed a fastball to left center field for a stand-up double. After a pitching change for MVSU, Stokes hit a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing another run across home plate for the Golden Eagles.
A wild pitch from Tenna Patterson scored Hayden and gave Southern Miss a 5-0 lead. The Lady Eagles ended the first inning, scoring five runs on three hits.
In the bottom of the second inning, Kaelyn Christofferson led off for the Lady Eagles with a single, and then stole second and third base setting up Reynolds’ RBI triple.
Reynolds scored on a wild pitch and Evans walked, advancing to second base safely. Cleary followed with a shot between third base and shortstop for an RBI double, increasing USM’s lead to 8-0.
After forcing another pitching change and scoring two more runs, the Lady Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead after two innings.
MVSU earned its first run from a Deja Tatlton home run in the top of the fourth. Alexander followed with a double, forcing Jillian Johnson to come in to relieve Robles off the mound for Southern Miss.
The Devilettes were able to score three runs in the top of the fourth inning, cutting the USM lead to 10-3, but the Lady Eagles finished the game in the bottom of the fifth inning by run-rule.
Stokes led off with a single, Stringer’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runner to third base and Estrada delivered with a single, scoring the winning run. Southern Miss won game two by a score of 11-3 with eight hits and no errors.
The Devilettes began game three by scoring a run in the top of the first inning off an RBI double. USM was held scoreless until the bottom of the third inning.
Reynolds led off with a single up the middle, giving USM its first hit of the game. Evans followed with a stand-up RBI triple on the first pitch she saw, tying the game 1-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Estrada and Stokes both drew walks as Jordan Beck stepped up to pinch-hit. Beck smoked a two-RBI triple down the left field line, giving USM the lead 3-1.
Sophomore pitcher Danielle Block contributed a stellar pitching performance, throwing a complete game. Block gave up only four hits with six strikeouts, a career-high.
The Lady Eagles had six hits and one error, winning the game 3-2.
USM improved to 8-4 overall and will travel to Oxford, Mississippi for a doubleheader against Ole Miss Feb. 25 at 4 and 6 p.m.