HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - USM Press Release
True freshman Samantha Papp delivered her second walk-off base hit of the weekend as Southern Miss softball claimed a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over WKU to claim its first Conference USA series win since 2014.
The Golden Eagles, who trailed 4-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, forced extra innings with a three-run home run by Katie Cleary to tie the game at 4-4. The game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the 10th inning. Morgan McKeever hit a double down the left field line to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Papp, who hit a game-winning RBI single in the series opener in the ninth inning on Saturday afternoon, posted her second walk-off hit of the weekend with a RBI single to right center field.
The 2-1 conference series victory was the first for Southern Miss since the Golden Eagles claimed a C-USA road series with Louisiana Tech on April 18-19, 2014 in Ruston, La.
Offensively, the Black and Gold tallied eight hits – led by a three-hit performance by Papp. Cleary led the team with three RBI with her three-run homer in the seventh. Papp finished with two RBI in contest and McKeever recorded a double.
In the circle, Jillian Johnson earned the victory. The sophomore entered the game in relief and held the WKU offense in check. J. Johnson did not allow a run in 3.1 innings of work, scattering just three hits. She relieved Samantha Robles who earned the start. Robles tossed 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with five walks and no strikeouts.
WKU was the first team to score breaking the 0-0 tie in the top of the fourth inning. The Lady Toppers used a one-out walk to place a runner on first base. The runner moved to second with a stolen base and came around to score on a RBI single to put WKU in front 1-0.
The Lady Toppers increased their lead to 2-0 with a run in the fifth. The leadoff batter walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt – one of four on the day for WKU. With two outs, the visitors used a RBI single to center field to push their advantage to two runs.
Southern Miss chipped into the lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, Sarah Evans singled through the right side of the infield. McKeever followed by reaching on a fielding error by WKU. With two on and two out, Papp singled to center field to score Evans and cut the deficit to 2-1.
WKU responded with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning. The leadoff batter singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. A two-out walk placed a pair of runners on base for WKU's Brooke Holloway who doubled home the runners to extend the advantage to 4-1.
Down to their final three outs, the Golden Eagles rallied in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at four apiece. Rachel Johnson led off the inning by reaching base on a fielding error by the Lady Toppers. She moved to second base as Lauren Holifield drew a walk. Tori Dew advanced R. Johnson to third by reaching on a fielder's choice. On the play, Holifield stopped and started to retreat back to first, giving Dew enough time to reach safely and eliminate a chance for a potential double play. With runners on the corners and one out, Cleary lifted the first pitch she saw over the right field fence, tying the game at 4-4 with her third home run of the season.
The score remained 4-4 until the bottom of the 10th inning thanks to some excellent defense by the Black and Gold. With a runner on second and one out in the eighth inning, WKU hit a single to center field. The lead runner, trying to score from second, was thrown out by R. Johnson at the plate as Papp barehanded the ball for the putout, setting up the 10th inning heroics.
Southern Miss returns to action this week as the Golden Eagles travel to Baton Rouge, La. to take on No. 8 LSU in a midweek game. The game will be aired on SEC Network+ and first pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m. Live stats and in-game tweets (@SouthernMissSB) will be available throughout the game.