The Golden Eagles participated in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic Feb. 25 and Feb. 26. According to coach Wendy Hogue, it was a inconsistent yet productive showing.
“I feel like we are significantly better than we were last year, but I just didn’t know if it was going to reflect on the scoreboard,” Hogue said. “I feel good leaving here [and], I think [the team] is still hungry.”
Southern Miss finished with a 3-2 tournament record, taking wins against Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls and Incarnate Word and falling against Baylor and McNeese State.
The Golden Eagles knew that they would have to bring their A-game in the Classic early, having tilts against No. 24 Baylor and McNeese State in back-to- back contests on the first day of the contest.
The Golden Eagles were blanked by Baylor 8-0, being downed by mercy rule in just the fourth inning. The Bears recorded 12 hits in the game and jumped on Southern Miss early in the first by recording five runs in that short span. Southern Miss was not demoralized by that loss though, despite not being able to record one hit in 26 at-bats. That offensive struggle would carry over to their contest against Nicholls State.
“If I’m being honest, Baylor is a World series team,” Hogue said. “Their pitching was a little tougher [than other competition.]” The Colonels kept even with Southern Miss throughout the game, with equal offensive production of both teams.
Starting pitchers Samantha Robles and Taylor Bishop pitched complete games, respectively, but combined to give up a total of 28 hits and 17 runs with only 12 strikeouts. The bats were hot against the Colonels, but the defense was what shot both teams in the proverbial foot.
“You got to have a short memory,” Hogue said. “[And] a long-term memory with the confidence from the hard work and the things that you learn.”
It would take Southern Miss until the eighth inning when they put up three runs to down the Colonels, 9-8. That confidence that they took in the late Saturday contest would propel them into the tournament finale against Incarnate Word. The Golden Eagles and Cardinals came into the Sunday contest both at 2-2 in the tournament, and both teams were looking to capture winning records in the tournament.
“I just learned that we have to just stay in it,” Hogue said. “I think we learned as a team that if we just stay in it, we’re going to give ourselves a chance.”
Hogue and her squad were able to rally in 17 hits and putting the cap on their weekend, 10-2 over Incarnate Word.
Danielle Block pitched five innings and only gave up two runs and five hits to the Cardinals. The Golden Eagles scored in every inning but the second, and put the cap on the game by mercy rule in the sixth inning when Samantha Reynolds tacked on an RBI double to left center field.
“Our hitting picked up the last few days, pitching came in and kept us in games and defense played well,” Hogue said. “Each game had its MVP. A total team effort.”
The Golden Eagles had their downs in the tournament, but certainly came off of the weekend with momentum and a winning record.