The Georgia Southern Eagles softball team played their first series in the Sun Belt this weekend against the Texas State Bobcats. The Eagles went 0-3 in the conference opener.
Game 1 (L 4-1)
The Eagles didn’t reach base until the third inning when A.J. Hamilton drew a walk. She later scored on a line drive single off the bat of Breanna McLendon to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. The Eagles took that lead into the fifth inning, but committed two errors that led to three Bobcat runs. The Bobcats added one more run in the top of the seventh to make the final score 4-1.
“This is our first series in the Sun Belt. It’s a different level than where we were in the SoCon,” head coach Annie Smith said. “We just lost a couple of innings. We are tight throughout the game. You have to win every inning.”
The defense has struggled so far. The team has committed 45 errors, the most for any Sun Belt team. Many of the games have been decided in extra innings or have been pretty close contests. The errors often lead to runs that ultimately decide the game.
Game 2 (L 10-2)
Kierra Camp started the second game for the Eagles, but gave up six runs on three hits and was replaced by Heather Felt. The Eagles responded in the bottom of the inning, scoring on a two-run RBI double off the bat of Lexi Allen to cut the lead 6-2.
Texas State added four more runs in the second, highlighted by a two-run bomb off the bat of Kourtney Koroll. Felt was replaced by Marla Thompson who scattered three hits over four shutout innings while striking out two batters.
“I thought she did some nice things,” Smith said of the senior pitcher. “I’m impressed with what she’s done so far.”
Unfortunately, the Eagles offense went cold after the first inning, and could only get three hits in the final four innings of play.
Game 3 (L 5-3)
In the final game of the series, the Eagles fell behind 3-0 in the first inning on a couple of hits and a costly throwing error. Brooke Red settled down after that and pitched four consecutive shutout innings, using five strikeouts to work around an uncharacteristic nine walks on the day. Marla Thompson came on in relief and gave up a two-run single to make the score 5-0. She then settled down and didn’t allow another hit for the rest of the game.
Breanna McLendon kicked off the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot over the left field fence to get on the board. Her home run seemed to give the Eagles life, as Kaitlyn Johnson and Taylor Rodgers both reached base. Rowan McGuire then came off the bench and delivered a bases clearing two-run RBI double that made the score 5-3. The comeback ended there, as the next two Eagles popped out and grounded out to end the game.
The offense has yet to really find its footing. Coach Smith has tinkered with the lineup throughout the season, but hasn’t quite found one that can consistently produce runs. The Eagles have shown flashes of power and timely hitting, but just haven’t done it consistently enough to help cover up the defensive mistakes.
But the Eagles showed some real signs of life at the end of the last game, and will look to carry that momentum into the rest of the conference play.
“You just have to keep working,” Smith said. “You have to go out there and battle every pitch, every play.”
The Eagles will return to action this Thursday when they travel to take on New Mexico in Charleston, S.C.