April 19, 2014
RUSTON - Freshman Pauline Tufi provided the power and the pitching to lead Louisiana Tech to a 7-0 win over Southern Miss Saturday at the Lady Techster Softball Complex, salvaging the third and final contest of the three-game series.
After dropping a pair of close contests to the Golden Eagles on Friday, LA Tech (17-27, 6-11 C-USA) jumped on USM (22-24, 10-11 C-USA) early and often on Saturday thanks to the top of the LA Tech order.
Tufi, who pitched a complete-game four-hit shutout in the circle, wasted very little time in providing her team an offensive spark. Anna Cross led the bottom of the first inning off with a frozen rope double to left field and then advanced to third on a line drive single through the left side by Kristen Miles.
USM starting pitcher Shelbee Rodgers, who held Tech without a run in 10 innings of action during Friday's doubleheader, then saw Tufi launch a mammoth blast deep down the left field for a 3-run home run and a 3-0 lead. It was Tufi's fourth home run of the year with two of them coming this past week.
Following a second straight 1-2-3 inning for Tufi in the circle in the top of the second inning, Tech struck again in the bottom of the frame. With one out, pinch hitter Taylor Penn worked a walk and advanced to second on a fielder's choice ground ball by Cross where Rodgers fielded the ball and failed to throw out Penn at second.
Miles then singled to centerfield to load the bases. USM made a pitching change as Danielle Block entered the game in relief of Rodgers.
Block was greeted by Tufi, who lined a bases-clearing double to right centerfield, giving the Lady Techsters a 6-0 advantage. Tufi's six RBI tied for the third most in a single game in LA Tech history.
With Tufi on third following a throwing error on the relay to home on the double, Hailey Winter popped up behind first base in foul territory. USM second baseman Meaghen Nelson made a running grab for the second out but Tufi tagged from third and scored in front of the throw home as Tech led 7-0.
Although the Lady Techsters were unable to plate another run in the game despite recording nine hits, it didn't matter as Tufi kept the USM offense in check. The Golden Eagles didn't record a hit until the fifth inning and failed to put multiple runners on base until the top of the seventh inning.
Tufi picked up the win, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out three in the complete game performance. Rodgers (15-10) was tagged with the loss, allowing six earned runs on four hits and two walks in only 1.1 innings of action.
Tech was led offensively by Tufi (3-3, HR, double, 2 runs, 6 RBI), Cross (1-3, 2 runs, SB), Miles (2-4, 2 runs), Courtney Lowe (2-3), Winter (RBI) and Penn (run).