Beard tosses one-hitter, strikes out 14 as South Alabama advances by Miss. St.
MOBILE, Ala. — Farish Beard tied her career high in strikeouts on Saturday to give No. 15 South Alabama softball a vital boost of energy headed into Sunday’s Mobile Regional Championship.
The Jaguars (47-8) defeated three-seed Mississippi State, 3-0, behind Beard’s 14-strikeout outing, in which she permitted only a single hit, her third career complete-game one-hitter. The sophomore from Fairhope, Ala., tied her own career-high in the category.
After going 1-for-8 to start the tournament, USA’s Julie Moss delivered a RBI triple early on to put the Jags up two runs. She finished the night 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
The top-seeded Jaguars will now have to beat second-seeded Florida State twice on Sunday, after the Seminoles advanced to the finals by upsetting the hosts 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Game 1 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Jaguar Field. All games throughout the weekend can be viewed on ESPN3. Links to video, Live Stats and ticket information can be found via the Tournament Central link listed above.
After losing for the first time in 18 games, USA recovered by defeating Mississippi State for the second time this season. In the 2013 season opener, USA downed MSU, 3-2, at the Bulldog Kickoff Classic in Starkville, Miss.
USA evened its all-time regional record to 4-4 on the day and its series record with MSU to 2-2. The Jaguars will compete in their second NCAA Regional title for the second time in as many years
USA hurried to reach the board in Saturday’s second game. Stephanie Pilkington, pinch-running for a walking Haley Fagan, scratched USA’s first run across in the top of the second after she reached from second on a MSU throwing error.
Moss first got on with a double to score Fowler, who walked. The junior right fielder was then plated on Kaitlyn Griffith’s subsequent bloop single to left field, making it 3-0 USA.
Beard retired 12 of the next 18 Bulldogs by strikeout, nine swinging, to end the affair. Her 14 ties her previous total, second-best in USA history, which came against Mercer in 2012 and Hannah Campbell record the same year against Louisiana at Monroe.
The nation’s third-best in strikeouts per seven innings commented on her performance: “I felt really good [Saturday]. I had some control issues at first, but I got that figured out and I felt really good.
“We’re very excited,” Beard added. “With our team, we all really work well together, and we lift each other up. I feel like FSU is going to have to play a good game tomorrow if they want to beat us.”
USA head coach Becky Clark will now take her team into its second consecutive NCAA Regional final. The Jaguars found themselves in a similar situation on Saturday to the one it did in 2012 at the Tuscaloosa Regional.
“Our student-athletes showed a lot of guts [Saturday]. We’ve won a lot of ball games. One loss isn’t going to get us down and end our season,” she explained. “I’m very proud of them for bouncing back and doing what they did. Last time we lost a game we went on a 17-game winning streak. Hopefully, we can come back and do the same thing.”
On how she feels her team will fare Sudnay with the next step, Super Regionals, on the line, Clark said, “It’s pretty cut and dry…we have to show up ready to play tomorrow…and we can’t take no for an answer.”