The 2022 Southern Miss Softball season begins as the Golden Eagles host its fourth annual Black and Gold Invitational. The SM2 Sports staff will have game by game updates from the series here:
Games One and Two Friday, Feb. 11 (Austin Lindsey and Tyjon Williams)
Southern Miss Softball began its season by hosting a doubleheader for its fourth annual Black and Gold Invitational, defeating North Alabama 8-6 and Saint Louis 6-2.
Southern Miss freshman Jana Lee took the mound for Southern Miss, throwing the first pitch at 4:28 pm against North Alabama.
Southern Miss freshman Alexis Dittmer and Scout Jennings put the Golden Eagles on the board first with back-to-back homers, making it 3-0 on North Alabama’s Maci Birdyshaw in the bottom of the second inning.
“That was amazing. Alexis hitting a homer and Scout coming right behind her and Homer in their first collegiate at-bats was crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.” Southern Miss Softball Head Coach Brian Levin said.
Three bats later, Destini Brown was walked by Birdyshaw, setting up Brown to break the Southern Miss’ stolen bases record with 82 in her career. Brown broke a 21-year-old record held by Chrystal Stevens.
“[A] super night for [Destini Brown] to break the stolen base record. She got the green light to go, and she won it,” Levin said.
The next at-bat, Alyssa “Tata” Davis, went yard to left field, making it 5-0 for a three-run inning.
North Alabama responded with three runs each over the four and fifth inning, making it 6-5.
North Alabama’s hot start led to a pitching change at the mound at 4.1 innings, bringing in two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, Paige Kilgore.
Southern Miss freshman first baseman Alexis Dittmer stepped up big at the plate in the bottom of the 5th for another home run on a two-run homer, which brought Kilgore home to lead 7-6.
Southern Miss scored another run on a single by Alyssa “Tata” Davis to close out the game 8-6.
Kilgore took the win at pitcher in 2 innings with two hits and one strike.
Alexis Dittmer led hitting for the Golden Eagles with two homers and four RBIs.
The Golden Eagles had a short turnaround within the next 30 minutes, facing Saint Louis.
Junior Morgan Leinstock started at the mound for the Golden Eagles, pitching a complete game, striking eight batters on five hits and two earned runs.
Neither side scored until a two-run homer to left-center by Brown in the bottom of the fifth.
Saint Louis scored in the top of the sixth, making it 2-1 on the double to right field by Outfielder Gabbie Kowalik, bringing in the runner from 2nd base.
Southern Miss loaded the bases as Davis was at-bat in the bottom of the sixth, hitting a grand slam on her first bat pitch, putting the game out of reach at 6-1.
The Billikens of Saint Louis added one more to the scoreboard, leaving one on base as Southern Miss took the win 6-2.
Games 3 and 4 (Nathan Lee)
The Golden Eagles suffered their first loss of the season in its third game of the weekend against the Samford Bulldogs, 10-6.
Samford’s Timberlyn Shurbutt led the offensive onslaught for the Bulldogs, accounting for 4 RBIs on 3 hits. Shurbutt’s early success in the first inning helped shift the momentum in the Bulldogs’ favor with a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles immediately responded in the bottom of the first when Alexis Dittmer hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Tata Davis to cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the second inning.
Southern Miss’ Rycca Hinton and Samford’s Jordan Walters became more comfortable as the game prolonged, allowing zero runs in the second and third innings. In the fourth inning, Hinton was relieved by Jana Lee.
Later in the inning, Lee gave up an RBI single to Bulldogs’ Sarah Squillace to bring the lead to 3-1.
The Bulldogs continued their scoring ways in the top of the fifth when Shurbutt hit an RBI double to bring in M.K. Tedder. Later in the inning, Shurbutt scored on an RBI single from Gwynnie Hornibrook to make the score 5-1.
The Golden Eagles then made a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 5-5.
Still, Samford’s thriving offense could not be stopped in the sixth inning when the Bulldogs added five runs to make the score 10-5.
Hannah Borden hit a home run to left field to end the game on a positive note, but it was not enough as Southern Miss fell 10-6.
The Golden Eagles were unable to get back in the win column as North Alabama earned the 7-0 shutout.
The Lions were led by senior pitcher Sidney Revels’ impressive seven-inning domination, allowing only 3 hits to 6 strikeouts.
The Golden Eagles started their freshman phenom Paige Kilgore, yet she was only able to make it through two total innings before she was relieved by Rycca Hinton.
The Lions did most of their scoring damage in the first three innings scoring six of their seven runs then.
The Lions started pouring it on in the third inning when they scored five runs.
Hailey Jones started this run for the Lions with a sacrifice fly, bringing in Haven Kirby to push the lead to 2-0.
Maleah Hargett kept the Lions’ hot hitting going with an RBI single to center field to bring in Lexie Harper. Hargett then scored on an RBI double to right field from Harley Stokes.
Broadfoot made her presence felt again when she hit an RBI single to left-center field to bring in Stokes. Kalli Daniel’s RBI single helped finish the Lions’ third inning explosion to bring in Broadfoot.
The Golden Eagles had no answers the entire game for Revels, which was the leading factor to the 7-0 defeat to the North Alabama Lions.
The Golden Eagles will have an opportunity to avenge their loss from early in the day to the Samford Bulldogs on Sunday, February 13 at 1 pm.