Southern Miss hosted its final home series of the season versus Western Kentucky before hitting with a must-win series to stay in contention to make the C-USA Championship Tournament.
A late surge in the fifth and sixth innings assisted the Golden Eagles to a 4-3 defeat of Western Kentucky.
Southern Miss trailed 3-0 until Alexis Dittmer hit a solo homer in the fifth to put the Golden Eagles on the board.
In the sixth, a triple by Hannah Borden and a single from Scout Jennings lead to three more runs to pull ahead.
“That at-bat felt really good,” Borden said of her triple. “I thought I was going to have to slide, but it ended up being a stand up triple, which was surprising. I just tried to make an adjustment from my last two at-bats, and I came up with a big hit.”
“We know that we’re good and we’re capable of beating really solid teams,” Jennings said. “We stayed relaxed throughout the game and you could see everyone’s mood-lifting as it went on, which was huge.”
Pitcher Morgan Leinstock threw a complete game on four strikeouts, 11 hits and two walks for another win on the season, moving to (18-9).
The Golden Eagles improved to 4-8 against WKU in the all-time series and have won two straight against the Hilltoppers for the first time in program history, dating back to a 2018 win in Hattiesburg.
Courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles captured the Western Kentucky weekend series on Saturday, April 30 with a 4-3 victory.
Head Coach Brian Levin was happy to capture this series over the No. 1 C-USA East softball team and he believes this could instill confidence in his team for the rest of the season.
“This is a huge win for us if you know, anytime you’re playing a team like that. That’s top of the table so to speak in Conference USA, and you come away with a series win against them,” Levin said. “You know, it just validates the fact that we can play with anybody at any time.”
Jana Lee led the Golden Eagles to this win with her shutout performance before the seventh inning rally from the Hilltoppers.
Lee also finished the game with a 2-2 hitting day with a pair of RBIs.
The Golden Eagles got the day going with a strong offensive start in the first inning, where the team scored three of their four runs.
Lee started the scoring for Southern Miss with her RBI single up the middle to bring in Destini Brown.
Scout Jennings answered in the very next at bat when she hit a line drive triple down the right field line to score Hannah Borden and Lee.
Scoring ran thin throughout the rest of the game, but the Golden Eagles added to their lead in the fifth.
Lee, once again, was the player that led this team when needed when she hit an RBI single to left field to bring in Tata Davis to up their lead to 4-0.
That score loomed large as the Hilltoppers would not go away easy with a late seventh inning rally.
The Hilltoppers managed to score three runs in the seventh to put the Golden Eagles’ lead in jeopardy, but Morgan Leinstock saved the day.
Leinstock relieved Lee from her impressive day in the seventh with the game tying run at the plate.
With two outs on the board, Leinstock struck out the final batter for the Hilltoppers to capture the 4-3 victory for Southern Miss.
Southern Miss aimed to complete a series sweep over Western Kentucky but fell short 4-0.
Right-handed pitcher (18-9, 2.57 ERA) Morgan Leinstock started on the mound for the Golden Eagles in their last home game of the season.
Two two-run innings in the back-to-back were enough for the Hilltoppers to avoid the series sweep 4-0. Southern Miss could not muster a run on four hits leading to five on base.
Starting the fourth, the Hilltoppers struck the scoreboard first after a single up the middle by Maddie Bowlds to bring in Brylee Hage from second. Then, Western Kentucky tacked on another run, making 2-0 on a sacrifice fly by Bailey Curry.
In the top of the fifth, the Hilltoppers continued to apply pressure by tacking on two more runs in the inning.
Southern Miss finished with two errors each leading to runs scored.
Destini Brown flew out to center field on a ball that appeared out of the park in the bottom of the first until WKU’s Center Fielder leaping catch took it off the board.
Bowlds led off for the Hilltoppers in the second, hitting a single to the right. The Golden Eagles later got out the inning on a flyout and a ground out into a double play as Bowlds interfered with the throw to first for the last out.
In the bottom of the inning, Scout Jennings hit a single to left field for the game’s first hit for the Golden Eagles, putting Lee in scoring position.
Western Kentucky’s pitcher (18-6, 1.80) Shelby Nunn later got out of the inning, striking out the next two batters.
The game ramped up in the bottom of the third as Southern Miss singled for two straight hits, but the Hilltoppers got out of the inning on a 1-5-4-6 play after Maria Smith attempted going for third, getting caught in a run down.
“When we make mistakes against teams as WKU, they are going to make you pay for it,” Levin said.
Southern Miss loses its veterans in their last home game as graduate students Alyssa ‘Tata’ Davis and Destini Brown have played their last at-bat at the Softball Complex, cementing themselves in program history.
Davis leaves the program as the all-time hitting leader and Brown holds the steal record.
“They’re incredible people, being an example for young people to emulate. The way they go about their work ethic and the things they do, it was so important to get them back. I’m so proud and happy and love them like my daughters,” Levin said.
“This year has been more than I’ve hoped. I’ve built so many relationships that I will not forget,” Brown said.
Leinstock (18-10) received the loss in over four innings pitched with four strikeouts allowing six hits.
The Golden Eagles are headed to finish their regular season in Ruston, Louisiana vs. (34-17, 14-6) LA Tech. Southern Miss now fights to make the C-USA Championships Tourney field of eight.