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Courtesy: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Roadrunners split Saturday doubleheader at Southern Mississippi

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics
Release: 03/29/2014
Courtesy UTSA Athletics
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. — After dropping a 10-5 decision to start the day, UTSA got a season-high 10 strikeouts from Kacy Freeze en route to a 3-1 victory at Southern Mississippi in game two for a split of Saturday’s doubleheader at the USM Softball Complex.

Jolene Graham went 4-for-8 with three runs scored and a home run for the Roadrunners (16-18, 5-3 C-USA), while Vivian Tijerina had four hits in seven at-bats with a pair of RBIs.

Meanwhile, Shelbee Rodgers struck out 12 in the opener for the Golden Eagles (17-17, 6-5 C-USA), who got a 5-for-6 effort at the plate from Mackenzie Sher.

The rubber game of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Game 1: Southern Mississippi 10, UTSA 5
UTSA fought back from an early 4-0 deficit, but Samantha Robles’ pinch-hit grand slam helped lift Southern Mississipi to a 10-5 win in game one of Saturday's doubleheader.

The Golden Eagles touched up Roadrunners’ starter Nicole Merrill for three runs, including a pair of unearned runs in the first inning.

The lead grew to 4-0 in the third on Michelle Stringer’s sacrifice fly to left before the UTSA offense could get on track against Shelbee Rodgers, who would finish the contest with a dozen strikeouts.

Jolene Graham started the rally with a single and moved all the way to third on a stolen base and wild pitch. Jori Fox followed with a single through the right side to give the visitors their first run of the day. A walk to Siera Sproul and single from Courtney Buchman loaded the bases for Tess Soefje, who singled home a run to pull the Birds within 4-2.

With two outs, pinch hitter Randee Crawford hit an infield pop-up that shortstop Morgan McKeever appeared to have lost in the sun before dropping and the error allowed a pair of unearned runs to touch home for a 4-4 score.

However, Southern Miss went ahead for good in the bottom of the frame against reliever Chelsea Parker on Robles’ one-out grand slam. The pinch-hitter jumped ahead in the count 2-0 before her blast to center field gave the Golden Eagles an 8-4 cushion.

Southern Miss would get two more runs in the sixth for a 10-4 lead before Megan Low hit her NCAA-leading 15th home run of the season an inning later for the 10-5 final.

Parker took the loss and fell to 2-5, while Rodgers improved to 11-7.

Game 2: UTSA 3, Southern Mississippi 1
Kacy Freeze struck out a season-high 10 batters and UTSA never trailed in a 3-1 victory at Southern Mississippi to salvage a split of Saturday's doubleheader.

Jolene Graham and Vivian Tijerina each went 3-for-4 at the plate for UTSA, while Graham hit her first home run of the season to provide some insurance late the game. In the circle, Freeze scattered just four hits and two walks to go along with her 10 punchouts.

Mackenzie Sher provided much of the offense for the Golden Eagles with three hits and her seventh home run of the season.

UTSA wasted no time in gaining its first lead of the day by starting the contest with four consecutive singles for a quick 2-0 lead.

Megan Low opened the game with a hit to center before Graham’s single to left and an infield hit from Jori Fox loaded the bases for Tijerina. The junior came through with a two-RBI hit to left field that chased starter Samantha Robles from the game before recording an out.

Reliever Danielle Block came in a retired the side without any further damage and Southern Miss got one run back in the bottom of the panel on Sher’s two-out solo home run.

Two runs proved to be enough for Freeze, who did not run into trouble until the Golden Eagles loaded the bases with one out in the fourth. But the sophomore struck out Meaghen Nelson and got Selena Estrada to pop up on a full-count pitch to end the threat.

The score would stay 2-1 until the top of the seventh, when Graham opened the frame with a solo homer to left. UTSA, which stranded 10 runners on base and eight in scoring position, put runners on first and second with no outs, but Block wiggled out of the jam to keep the score 3-1.

Freeze shut the door in the bottom of the inning by retiring the side in order for her team-leading ninth win of the campaign.

Robles took the loss and fell to 5-7, while Block allowed one run on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in seven frames.

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