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RECAP: Softball sweeps Southern Miss in opening conference series

RECAP: Softball sweeps Southern Miss in opening conference series

RECAP: Softball sweeps Southern Miss in opening conference series
March 14
15:29 2022

Softball started its defense of the Conference USA regular season title with an opening series win versus the University of Southern Mississippi. 

North Texas (14-4, 3-0 C-USA) swept the Golden Eagles (17-8, 0-3 C-USA) on the weekend. Junior left-hander Ashley Peters picked up two wins to give her eight victories on the season. 

“[Peters] was really solid and pitched her way out of a couple early jams,” head coach Rodney DeLong. “The team stayed patient and scored late in the game to really support her too. It’s good to win the series on the road.”

Game 1: North Texas 2, Southern Mississippi 0

Freshman right-hander Skylar Savage took the circle for the Mean Green to start the series, pitching a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts and two walks. Morgan Leinstock, starter for the Golden Eagles, surrendered two earned runs, struck out six and walked two in seven innings for her second loss of the season.

A pitcher’s battle throughout, Savage and Leinstock both pitched six shutout innings. Sophomore infielder Maria Smith recorded the first base hit of the game for either team in the bottom of the second inning, hitting a double with one out. Smith was stranded after Savage retired the next two batters. 

Sophomore infielder Mikayla Smith ended Leinstock’s no-hitter with a single up the middle with one out in the top of the fifth. Smith was stranded as the next two Mean Green batters could not hit the sophomore in.

North Texas ended the double shutout in the top of the seventh as an RBI groundout by freshman infielder Cierra Simon scored freshman infielder Emma Grahmann from third. Freshman outfielder Sydney Ingle scored on a Leinstock wild pitch to extend the Mean Green’s lead to two.

Savage recorded three strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to complete her first complete game victory, putting the 6-foot-2 righty at four wins on the season.

Game 2: North Texas 7, Southern Mississippi 1

Junior lefty Ashley Peters started in the circle for the first time since her shortest outing for North Texas last Wednesday. Peters bounced back Saturday afternoon, striking out a career-high eight batters on the way to a complete game victory. 

Southern Mississippi freshman right-hander Jana Lee pitched all seven innings, giving up seven runs (two earned) and striking out six. The righty would run into trouble out of the gate as sophomore outfielder Lexi Cobb led off the game with an infield single. Senior infielder Tayla Evans hit Cobb in from third on an RBI groundout for the contest’s first run.

The Golden Eagles responded in the bottom half of the frame with a leadoff double by graduate outfielder Destini Brown. Lee got Brown to third with a bloop single before the Golden Eagles’ center fielder scored on a wild pitch.

Peters got into a jam in the third inning after three batters reached first base, two of which were due to Peters and Walker not being able to corral balls hit in front of home plate. Peters got out of the bases loaded situation with a lineout to keep the game tied 1-1.

The Mean Green retook the lead in the top of the fifth after two errors and a Cobb base hit scored a run and put two on for them. Evans got her second and third RBIs on the day with a double to score Cobb and sophomore outfielder Kalei Christensen and extend the North Texas lead to 4-1.

Simon further widened the Mean Green lead with a two-run single in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore first baseman Kailey Gamble batted in the seventh and final run of the day for North Texas with a sacrifice fly to score Christensen in the top of the seventh.

Southern Mississippi had two batters reach in the bottom of the seventh before a 4-3 double play and Peters’ eighth strikeout ended the game. The win was Peters’ second complete game of the season.

Game 3: North Texas 5, Southern Mississippi 4

Savage and Leinstock started their second games of the weekend Sunday afternoon. Savage went three innings, striking out two, walking one and allowing three runs. Leinstock also pitched three innings, walking four, striking out four and allowing three runs. Both pitchers recorded no-decisions in the contest.

Southern Mississippi started the scoring with an RBI groundout by senior infielder Terrica Williams in the bottom of the first. The Mean Green responded in the top of the second, tying the game at one on a fielder’s choice that scored redshirt sophomore Molly Rainey.

The Golden Eagles retook the lead in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by graduate infielder Tata Davis and RBI groundout off the bat of freshman outfielder Scout Jennings. A Christensen RBI single and Gamble RBI groundout tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fourth.

Peters checked in for North Texas in the fourth inning while Lee came in for the Golden Eagles. The bats were kept quiet until the bottom of the sixth when sophomore infielder Maria Smith hit a home run to give Southern Mississippi a 4-3 lead.

A rally in the top of the seventh on a run-scoring error and Christensen’s second RBI of the contest gave the Mean Green the lead going into the final half inning. Peters retired the top of the Southern Mississippi lineup in order to score her eighth win of the season.

North Texas returns home Tuesday night to face No. 11 Oklahoma State University before continuing C-USA play next weekend versus Florida Atlantic University. 

“It’s always tough to sweep on the road,” Delong said. “We have another tough slate of games this week and I’m looking forward to watch our young team continue to grow.”

Featured Image:  Sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker crouches on the field during a game on March 9, 2022. Photo by Kristian Freeman

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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