South Alabama Tops Troy in Sun Belt Softball Opener

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TROY, Ala. – South Alabama pitcher Hannah Campbell turned in a nice outing to slow down Troy’s bats as the Trojans were defeated 5-1 by the 19th-ranked Jaguars in both teams opening game at the Sun Belt Conference Championships on Wednesday night at the Troy Softball Complex.

Campbell (19-7), who entered the night with the nation’s second-lowest ERA (0.94 ERA), tossed a complete game giving up just one run on five hits as the southpaw recorded five strikeouts and issued one walk.

With the loss, the Trojans drop into the loser’s bracket and face FIU (27-27) in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The sixth-seeded Panthers fell 8-7 to third seed Louisiana-Lafayette, 8-7, Wednesday afternoon in eight innings.

Playing as the visiting team at its home park, Troy (20-31) picked up its lone run in the fourth inning with a two-out RBI single by Taylor Smartt that plated pinch runner Madison Rich, who ran for Caitlin Ortiz after the senior reached on a walk to extend the inning. Ortiz’s walk in the fourth extended the senior’s reached-base streak to 27 games, a season-high for the Trojans and the longest active streak by a player in the Sun Belt.

No. 19 South Alabama (42-7) jumped on top of the Trojans 3-0 in the bottom of the first as a pair of two-out base hits by the Jaguars off of Troy starter Michaela Hamilton set up a three-run opposite field shot to right field by Kaitlyn Griffith. Griffith finished 3-for-3 including two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored to the lead the Jaguars.

Hamilton (5-7) was hooked for the loss, allowing four runs, four hits and a walk in two innings of work. Jaycee Affeldt threw the final four innings, relieving Hamilton in the circle during the third inning, allowing just one run and surrendering five hits.

The Jaguars added a pair of runs in the third inning to push its lead to 5-0. After leading off the inning with a double to right center, South Alabama’s Brittany Fowler came around to score on a single by Blair Johnson and an error by Troy right fielder Amanda Winters, who misplayed the base hit to allow the run to score and advance Johnson to third. A passed ball allowed Johnson to score one batter later.

In the top of the fourth, Troy picked up a pair of base runners with two outs as Smartt’s two-out seeing-eye single into left that scored Rich from second to put the Trojans on the board.

Troy’s Rachel Rigney recorded her second multi-hit of the season finishing 2-for-3 at the plate, while Bailey Blake was 1-for-3, reached on an error and recorded her 16th stolen base of the year in the loss. Keelie Housley picked up her second double of the year with a pinch-hit two-bagger down the right field line in the seventh off of Campbell.

For South Alabama, Haley Fagan added a pair of singles as the freshman and Griffith combined for five of the Jaguars nine hits. Brittany Fowler, Blair Johnson, Julie Moss and Brittany Campbell all chipped in a base hit.

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