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Softball: Southern Miss. sweeps North Texas

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The North Texas softball team dropped the series finale to Southern Miss in heartbreaking fashion as Southern Miss scored the eventual game-winning run of a 3-2 win on a delayed steal with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Mean Green (20-23, 3-12 Conference USA) battled back with two runs in the third inning, erasing a 2-0 deficit, but they were unable to salvage a game against the Golden Eagles (23-23, 10-8) who completed the weekend sweep on Sunday.

“We had a much better approach today,” UNT coach Tracey Kee said. “The game could have gone either, so credit to our kids for not rolling over. As a coach, that’s what you want to see.

“But we didn’t execute defensively. We only had two errors on the scoreboard, but I personally thought there were three in that game, one of them being on that delayed steal. But that’s how it goes. It seems like we have been snake-bit for the last two weeks, where every mistake that we make is magnified and it comes back to bite us.”

As it did in both games of the doubleheader sweep Saturday, Southern Miss struck first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first, taking advantage of a North Texas throwing error to score the first run and later scoring another run on a sacrifice fly.

After putting runners in scoring position in the first and second innings, North Texas broke through with its first two runs of the weekend, as junior shortstop Kelli Schkade and junior Danielle Gregory both delivered with RBI doubles in the third, the latter coming with two outs in the inning.

North Texas threatened again in the fifth, putting a runner at third with two outs, as Schkade worked a one-out walk, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error on the play, but the Mean Green were unable to push a run across the plate.

After trading zeroes through the middle innings, Southern Miss regained a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, the Golden Eagles strung together back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners. And then they scored the go-ahead run on a delayed steal play, as the runner from third broke and scored after the throw-down to second base.

In the top of the seventh, looking to extend the game, sophomore designated player Lauren Miller led off the game with an infield single.

Freshman Hannah Gerecke, pinch-running for Miller, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Bryana Wade. With the would-be game-tying run in scoring position, North Texas struck out and popped out to end the game.

Southern Miss sophomore Samantha Robles (14-7) tossed her second complete game of the weekend, limiting North Texas to two runs — both unearned — on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 7 innings. Freshman Lauren Craine (1-4) took the loss, giving up the single run on two hits with a walk in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

“We’re going to take a couple of days off and do some healing and step away from all the pressure that we have been feeling, and then we’ll get back to it on Wednesday and start preparing for Louisiana Tech,” Kee said.