The Southern Miss softball team started its 2020 season Friday night with an 8-0 win in six innings against Mississippi Valley State.
Southern Miss leapt ahead in the first inning with two hits and two runs. In her first collegiate game, Freshman catcher Hannah Borden hit a double far right, sending Karley Nichols home for the team’s first run of the year. Borden then ran home on a ball hit center field from Amber Pack.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect, but after the first, I felt pretty good and it kinda just went from there,” Borden said.
In her debut, Borden had three hits and one RBI. Her highlight play came in the fourth, when she sent a ball flying far over the deck for the team’s first home run of the year.
For the game, Sophomore pitcher Kaylan Ladner allowed only three hits. In the third, she prevented any scores from Mississippi Valley State’s two runners on base.
At the bottom of the fourth, sophomore Madison Rayner slammed a triple far down the right of the field and ran home on a throwing error.
In the sixth, Rayner hit her second triple of the game and shortly after, Nichols hit a double. Rayner walked home and ended the game at 8-0 on the mercy rule to cap an impressive team performance.
“We knew what we were capable of, but now we’ve seen it, so I think that will definitely spark something for the rest of the weekend” Borden said.
On Saturday afternoon, Southern Miss won its first matchup of the weekend against the Saint Louis Billikens 9-1.
Again, Southern Miss started early, scoring three runs in the first. Borden hit a double to send Destini Brown home for the first run of the game. Amber Pack then slammed a ball over the left deck for her first home run of the year to move the score up to 3-0.
“I was down in the count, so I was trying to battle back. I got a pitch I could hit, so I just drilled it over the fence,” Pack said.
In the second, Southern Miss scored five runs on four hits. Nichols and Brown both walked to first, which each scored Kaley Fruge and Rayner. Next, Nichols ran home off of a wild pitch. After two RBI singles from Borden and Alyssa Davis, the Golden Eagles ended the inning up 8-0 with three runners still left on base.
“As a softball player, you always dream about playing your first college game, so it was really surreal. It was so much fun,” freshman Savanna Wood said. In the Billikens’ previous game, the team scored nine runs. Wood only allowed them one run and logged eight strikeouts through the game.
In the fifth, Rayner notched her third triple of the weekend. This led to Lacey Sumerlin’s RBI double, which scored Brown to end the game.
For the third game of the weekend, Southern Miss lost their second game against the Saint Louis Billikens 5-4.
Unlike their previous games this weekend, Southern Miss was held scoreless through the first two innings. In the first, the Golden Eagles had the bases loaded, but the Billikens prevented any runs on a double play. In the second, Billikens’ pitcher Chloe Wendling retired Southern Miss in order.
In the third, Rayner hit her fourth triple of the weekend but was unable to make it past home. Later, Pack walked to first with bases loaded, sending Nichols home for the first run of the game. The Billikens prevented any more runs and ended the third with three runners still left on base.
At bat, the Billikens also had their bases loaded and scored a run off of an RBI walk to even the score at 1-1. Ladner and the Golden Eagles’ defense prevented any more scores.
In the top of the fiftth, Davis hit an RBI triple, scoring Pack. Davis would later advance home on a passed ball. For the first hit of her collegiate softball career, Vasquez hit an RBI double to raise the score to 4-1.
Southern Miss was unable to score for the remainder of the game. In the sixth, Saint Louis’ Kelsey Etling sent a ball flying over the deck for a home run. Down by two in the bottom of the seventh, Saint Louis had all bases loaded. They then scored two runs off of a fielding error, tying the game at 4-4. Kayla Swiderski then hit a walk-off RBI single to end the game at 5-4, handing Southern Miss its first loss of the season.
For the fourth and final game of the weekend, Southern Miss defeated Mississippi Valley State 13-1. The Golden Eagles finished their home tournament with a record of 3-1.
“I’m extremely happy with what happened and with the team in general. We got a really tight knit group of ladies, so it makes it really fun to coach,” head coach Brian Levin said.
Through the tournament, the team scored 34 runs. Only one game lasted a full seven innings; the others ended on the mercy rule.
“We’ve been hitting really good. I think we’re not up to our potential yet and that we can hit a lot better than we did this weekend,” Rayner said.
Sumerlin scored on an error for the first run of the game. In the second, Breana Blankenship scored on a passed ball to increase the score to 2-0. In the four games this tournament, Southern Miss outscored their opponents 18-0 through the first two innings.
In the third, Amber Pack hit an RBI double, which scored Sumerlin for her second run of the day. Caroline Casey then scored on a wild pitch. The bottom of the third saw Mississippi Valley State’s only run of the day, which was a home run hit by Deshonte Smith.
After two runs from Rayner and Vasquez in the fourth, the Golden Eagles had a busy fifth inning. The team finished the frame with seven runs and five hits, highlighted by Jamie Powell’s RBI double that scored three runs. This was Powell’s first time at bat this season.
Senior Bailie Springfield entered the circle for the first time of the season and pitched through four innings. She logged two strikeouts and allowed one run. Freshman Breley Boykin pitched for the first time of her collegiate career in the fifth inning. She ended the game with her first career strikeout in the bottom of the fifth.
The Lady Eagles will host Southern University Feb. 12.