Feb. 14, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Southern Miss' Leslie LeJune, Logan James and Alexis Hurley recorded multi-hit efforts to fuel the Golden Eagles' eight-hit attack, while Courtney Ramos, who earned her third win of the weekend, pitched 5.0 innings of three-hit ball to secure the 9-1 win over Mercer Sunday.
Southern Miss improved to 4-0 for the first time in the program's history.
Both teams threatened to score in the opening inning with runners getting all the way to third, but neither team could push the run across the plate.
"We came out a little slow offensively," Coach Howard Dobson said. "Once again, Ramos did a very good job this weekend, going 3-0 facing some quality teams. She had two wins against Mercer who won 40 games last year and a win against Florida State. Those wins were huge for us."
Mercer got on the scoreboard when the Bears manufactured a run in the top half of the second inning when Allison Jones singled and Stephanie Canara come on to pinch run for Jones. Canara moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and over to third on a pass ball. Condra then singled to right which allowed Canara to take home and give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
"We gave up a run early in the second inning," Dobson said. "Our offense was not clicking yet, but we were there, we just couldn't push that run across. We kept chipping away and all of a sudden we exploded. It was nice to see us walk away 4-0. We wanted to come in here and compete. The teams we were playing were post-season type teams. Our goal was to be 4-0 and we reached that goal."
Starting pitcher Natalie Jones kept the Golden Eagles' offense in check over the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Southern Miss was able to get its offense jump started when Jill Mathis reached base on an error then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Christina Roosmalen. James then delivered a double over the head of the left fielder that bounced off the fence sending Mathis home. Hurley then took a 1-0 pitch deep to left field to record her first home run of the season to put the Golden Eagles up 3-1.
With two outs, Mercer got back-to-back walks to put runners at first and second. However, a base running error cost the Bears as Hurley fired down to first base and picked off Sara Stukes and in the process Anna Johnson attempted to advance to third and got caught in a run-down and was out at third.
"What was really nice to see with our team was that if was different parts of order all weekend that hit the ball," said Dobson. "The top of the order hit some balls, we had the bottom of the order hit and we had the middle hit. At any given time, we didn't know who was going to hit ball and that's huge. Anytime you can get hits 1-9 that's big. A couple of times they intentionally walked Megan Hill and we didn't capitalize the first time, but the second time we did."
Southern Miss then put up six runs in the fifth when Megan Hill was issued her second intentional walk of the game then promptly stole second. Mathis then belted a double to left center to score Hill. Mathis moved over to third on a wild pitch before Roosmalen singled up the middle to score Mathis. Stephanie Shiflet came on to pinch run for Roosmalen and stole second. James then sent a 0-2 pitch to right field to put runners at the corners. Kirstin Perry then pinch ran for James. Hurley followed with a single to right field, scored Shiflet, and moved Perry to second. The Eagles loaded the bases after Brandi Alonzo who pinch hit for Chanell Thurman reached base after being hit by a pitch.
With the top of the order up, LeJune connected on a walk-off base clearing double to left center to give Southern Miss a 9-1 lead in five innings.
Natalie Jones (0-1) took the loss for Mercer who gave up three runs on three hits.
Southern Miss returns to the diamond on Tuesday when the Golden Eagles travel to Baton Rouge, La., to play Southern University. First pitch is 3 p.m.