Herd Suffers Two Heartbreaking Losses on C-USA Opening Day

March 11, 2006

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss needed just five combined runs in two games, as the Golden Eagles handed the Marshall Thundering Herd a pair of losses during the Conference USA opening twinbill Saturday.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Thundering Herd (11-11, 0-2 C-USA). It also marks the first time since 2002 that the Herd has lost its conference-opening series.

Southern Miss (15-15, 2-0 C-USA) improves to 6-0 this season at the USM Softball Complex. The three-game series will conclude with a 1 p.m. (EST) single game Sunday.

Game 1 (Southern Miss 3, Marshall 2 - 12 innings)

Game 1 Box Score

It wasn't the start the Thundering Herd was hoping for in its Conference USA debut. An RBI single by Southern Miss' Krystal Crooks in the bottom of the 12th inning gave the Golden Eagles a 3-2 win in game one.

Marshall starting pitcher Veronica Ralston (Tucson, Ariz./Catalina Foothills) received the no-decision, allowing two runs on three hits in five innings. Ralston walked four batters and hit three more, while striking out three batters.

Junior Amanda Luers (Dover, Ohio/Dover) struck out two batters in an inning of relief, while Abby Harter (Monmouth, Ore./Santiam Christian) was dealt the loss (3-5). Harter allowed the game-winning run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Southern Miss freshman Lacey Gros (9-8) struck out seven Herd batters en route to the win. Gros allowed two runs, while scattering six hits in 12 solid innings.

Marshall dodged a trio of Southern Miss scoring threats in the game's first three innings. Ralston surrendered just one hit, while fanning three batters in the process. Rachel Folden (Baldwin Park, Calif./Diamond Bar) also helped the Herd's defensive cause, throwing out a pair of Golden Eagles runners on the bases.

Ralston faced five USM batters in the bottom of the fourth, allowing a pair of runners to reach base. However, the Herd defense stood its ground, sending Southern Miss back to the dugout scoreless after four complete innings.

Marshall finally broke through in the top of the sixth, as the Thundering Herd scoring two runs to take a 2-0 lead.

With one out, Jessica Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) drilled a sure triple past a diving Jennifer Fox in left field. However, Williams stopped at second, putting just the second Herd runner in scoring position on the afternoon.



Folden then reached on a wild pitch on a swinging third strike, advancing Williams to third. Williams later scored on Samantha Rodriguez's (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) RBI ground out, giving the Herd a 1-0 lead in the sixth. The Herd would plate a second run on a Deanna Tourville (Rescue, Calif./Ponderosa) RBI single to right field.

Fox answered in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run. Fox's fourth homer of the season broke Southern Miss onto the scoreboard, 2-1.

Following Fox's home run, a series of bizarre events resulted in Southern Miss evening the score, 2-2, after six complete innings. Williams snared a pop up at shortstop for the apparent first out of the inning, but Ralston was called for an illegal pitch. The call negated the out and gave USM a base runner. That base runner - Ashley Bullard - would later score on an errant Sara Spenia (Las Vegas, Nev./Durango) throw to first.

After that, Marshall and Southern Miss exchanged five and half scoreless innings before the winning run came across the plate.

With one out in the 12th inning, Bullard reached on Jessica Williams' second error on the afternoon. Kristin Pilgrim advanced Bullard to third with a single up the middle. Crooks then singled home Bullard with an RBI single up the middle for the extra-inning game's winning run.

Folden was the Herd's only multi-hit performer in game one, going 2-for-4. Rodriguez and Tourville accounted for the Herd's two RBI.

Fox led Southern Miss offensively, going 2-for-6 with a solo home run.

Southern Miss 3, Marshall 2 (Mar 11, 2006 at Hattiesburg, Miss.) (Game 1)
Marshall............ 000 002 000 000  -  2  6  3      (11-10, 0-1 C-USA)
Southern Miss....... 000 002 000 001  -  3  6  2      (14-15, 1-0 C-USA)
Pitchers: Marshall - Veronica Ralston; Amanda Luers(6); Abigail Harter(7).
Southern Miss - Lacey Gros.
Win-Lacey Gros(9-8)  Loss-Abigail Harter(3-5)  T-3:20

Game 2 (Southern Miss 2, Marshall 1)

Game 2 Box Score

Marshall's luck didn't change in the night cap of the C-USA doubleheader as the Golden Eagles took a 2-1 winner.

Crooks, the USM starter in game two, lasted just 3 1/3 innings, receiving the no-decision. She allowed one run on three hits, while walking two. Samantha Davis (1-0) earned the win, allowing just two hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Harter (3-6) suffered her second loss of the afternoon, allowing two runs on four hits in four innings. Ralston scattered two hits in two innings.

It didn't take six innings for a team to score in game two. Southern Miss an RBI single by Bullard in the bottom of the second, giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Marshall scored the equalizer in the top of the fourth. With one out, Folden and Rodriguez registered a pair of hits. Tourville's sacrifice fly then plated pinch runner Courtney Kacenga (Sierra Vista, Ariz./Buena), tying the game at 1-1.

Southern Miss added the game-winning run in the fifth inning, taking the 2-1 win.

Jessica Williams went 2-for-3, while three others added a hit. Bullard paced USM offensively, going 2-for-2 with an RBI.

Southern Miss 2, Marshall 1 (Mar 11, 2006 at Hattiesburg, Miss.) (Game 2)
Marshall............ 000 100 0 -  1  5  0      (11-11, 0-2 C-USA)
Southern Miss....... 010 010 X -  2  6  0      (15-15, 2-0 C-USA)
Pitchers: Marshall - Abigail Harter; Veronica Ralston(5). Southern Miss - Krystal Crooks;
Samantha Davis(4).
Win-Samantha Davis(1-0)  Loss-Abigail Harter(3-6)  T-1:30  A-423