Southern Miss Softball (21-15) earned its second win against a Southeastern Conference opponent this season as they shutout Mississippi State (24-13) 3-0 on April 6.
The Golden Eagles last beat Mississippi State exactly 11 years ago when they won 14-4 in Madison, Mississippi April 6, 2011. The Bulldogs had won nine consecutive games in the series.
“It’s a tremendous win anytime you come across and beat an SEC team- that’s a big deal,” Head Coach Brian Levin said. “I’m really proud of the girls and happy for them. They came out and played well and you can really see they just love each other. That’s what’s fun about it.”
The Golden Eagles’ win marked the second consecutive night a Southern Miss team beat an SEC opponent, coming a night after baseball won against Ole Miss 10-7.
Southern Miss stopped a Bulldogs team that was 8-2 in its last 10 games and had recently upset No. 11 Tennessee.
Junior pitcher Morgan Leinstock threw a complete game for the Golden Eagles, striking out six batters, allowing just three hits and no runs on 114 pitches for a 2.04 ERA.
“This feels amazing. We haven’t had a big win like this for this Hattiesburg community and it just feels great to compete against a really good SEC team against them in front of them [fans],” Leinstock said.
Southern Miss nearly got a win against Mississippi State at home last season but fell in extra innings 3-2.
Leinstock said she learned about the Bulldogs’ batters from watching the game last season and used that to her advantage.
Leinstock started the game in a jam with the bases loaded but was able to navigate out of the situation.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t my game, but I just told myself that I can’t give up right here, [and] to just keep pushing through,” Leinstock said. “I had to take deep breaths before every pitch, which is my routine, and I just got out.”
After Leinstock retired the Bulldogs, Alyssa “Tata” Davis hit a two-run homer to left field to put Southern Miss on the board 2-0.
Southern Miss retained Mississippi State from hitting until the fifth inning when Riley Hull singled to right field.
The Bulldogs made a pitching change as Annie Willis relieved Aspen Wesley. Wesley (13-5) took the loss after her two innings of play.
Willis minimized Southern Miss’ batting as she pitched through four innings, striking out six batters and allowing two hits.
The Golden Eagles added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Scout Jennings doubled and advanced to third, sending Lorna Argen home after a throwing error.
Jackie McKenna singled for the Bulldogs in the top of the seventh but Leinstock ended the game after striking out Shea Moreno.
With the win, Southern Miss improves to a 2-1 record against SEC opponents this season, after they picked up a victory earlier this season against No. 4 Florida.
“I believe that we can make it to the World Series just because we beat these two SEC teams-we’re no different from everybody else,” Leinstock said. “It’s the same intensity and the same game. It’s the same thing and we just have to play our own game.”
Southern Miss looks to translate its non conference success to conference play, where they are currently 1-8.
“When you look at the conference record, no it’s not where you want it to be but you look at those losses [and] they are one run losses or extra innings,” Levin said. “Three or four of those series have been arguably the top teams in the conference, so I’m just looking forward to getting back into conference play and hopefully this carries [into it].”
Southern Miss resumes conference play as they face Charlotte in a three-game series on the road this weekend.