After a 30-minute rain delay, the Golden Eagles found themselves ahead of Louisiana Tech 5-3 into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Pitcher Abby Trahan, who came in relief, faced runners on first and second base with one out. However, a defensive play from her and then a strikeout sealed the win on Saturday night. Key in setting that situation was freshman pitcher Makenna Pierce who got the start in the circle.
“Abby hasn’t had a lot of relief roles,” Southern Miss coach Wendy Hogue said. “I told her before the game I was going with Makenna. She’s been throwing well. I do feel like Tech had prepped for Trahan all week. Why not throw a freshman who is wheeling and dealing in there.
In five innings pitched, Pierce held the Lady Techsters to three runs on three hits while walking two batters, striking out one and recording the win.
“I’ve been working all week trying to prep for this team,” Pierce said. “They are a really good hitting team and all week we had been working on trying to keep the ball low. Get them to hit ground balls. I pitched well last weekend and I was glad the coaches had the confidence in me to allow me to start today and do my job and get the win. It was good to see Abby get out there and finish the game for us. I thought it was a good decision. The lineup was coming through for about a third time and having them see a different pitcher. Especially because [Abby throws] up and I throw low and obviously it worked because I couldn’t touch her.”
Southern Miss jumped to an early 1-0 lead from an RBI single by Lacey Sumerlin, but LA Tech scored three runs in the second inning to take a 3-1 lead.
A pair of infield errors helped to load the bases for the Lady Techsters. LA Tech was able to score its runs of a throwing error followed by an RBI single and a run walked in.
“I don’t think that tough inning was on [Pierce],” Hogue said “Tata Davis, who is going to play third base for us, didn’t have what was her best inning for us. She had a couple of errors right there, but they were some hard-hit balls. Makenna Pierce’s M.O. is groundballs. We have to play defense behind her. Makenna did exactly what she needed to do. A couple of walks, I thought one of those was a pretty good walk, but we still felt good about what she was doing and I think she felt good about what she was doing.
The Golden Eagles responded in the fourth inning, with three runs. The inning was led off by four back-to-back singles by Southern Miss, with Madison Rayner and Samantha Papp driving in a run each. Karley Nichols drove in the final run of the inning off another RBI single.
Sumerlin added an insurance run in the fifth inning after hitting a solo home run.
“The pitch before that she actually got in on my hands and jammed me up,” Sumerlin said. “Luckily it was a foul ball that didn’t get caught and I knew she was probably going to come to that general area again because he beat me well. And she did and I just made the adjustment and felt pretty good.”
Sumerlin finished the night 2-for-3 with two RBI.
“I think that we know we’re a good hitting team,” Sumerlin said. “There’s not a pitcher in this conference that is capable of holding us to two runs. If they got three runs on the board, I don’t know if we ever start pressing like we know we can get three runs.”
The win improves Southern Miss to 30-19 and 12-9 in Conference USA, while LA Tech drops to 39-14 and 17-5 in C-USA. The win for Southern Miss marks the first 30-win season for the Golden Eagles since 2016.
Southern Miss will play a doubleheader tomorrow with first pitch set for noon.