Softball Season in Review
STATESBORO, Ga. – In Georgia Southern’s first season under new Head Coach Annie Smith the expectations were high. The 2012 Eagles fulfilled those expectations, posting a school record 42-20 record with a 22-2 mark in Southern Conference play and the SoCon Regular Season Championship. The Eagles marched through the SoCon Tournament, winning the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament with a 6-2 win over College of Charleston.
The 2012 campaign got underway with a trip to Coastal Carolina’s “Kickin’ Chicken Classic.” In a vision of things to come, GSU opened the year with an 11-1 victory over George Washington. The win gave Smith a victory in her first outing with the Eagles, a feat that had never before been accomplished. GSU went on to post a 3-2 record in the tournament including a 5-2 win over Coastal Carolina, an opponent Georgia Southern would see later in the year.
Georgia Southern’s 2012 home opener came on February 15th against Georgia State. The Eagles lost the opener 1-0 behind a two-hitter from Sarah Purvis. GSU rallied in the second game of the doubleheader, earning a 4-1 win over the Panthers. Andrea Tarashuk logged a bases loaded three-RBI double in the third inning that gave GSU the come-from behind win.
The season’s second road swing of the year took the Eagles to the USF Invitational in Tampa, Fla. The Eagles fell to 4-4 on the year with a 3-2 extra innings loss against Wisconsin. Rain shortened the event as Southern downed Drake 2-0, but fell 2-0 to South Florida in the finale.
Eagles Slay Wildcats
Georgia Southern’s final games in February, at the 2012 Eagle Classic, included one of the most memorable victories in program history. On the opening day of play, GSU bested Jacksonville State 7-4 and blanked Albany 6-0 after heavy rains delayed the proceedings.
On Saturday afternoon, GSU drew a clash with the SEC powerhouse Kentucky. In the third frame, GSU took advantage of two Wildcat errors to establish an early 1-0 lead. Purvis kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard into the seventh inning when UK scored a game-tying run, forcing extra innings. Using the international tiebreaker rule in the eighth, Kentucky stranded two runners on base, giving the Eagles a chance to win it in the bottom of the inning. A Mackenzie Williams single through the right side plated Alexa Lewis for a 2-1 Georgia Southern victory.
The month of March gave GSU some much-needed rest with the squad returning to action on March 5th against La Salle. Georgia southern blanked the Explorers 6-0 and 8-0 to improve to 9-7 and ultimately 10-7 on the year. The biggest story wasn’t the combined 14-0 result, but the pitching performance by Sarah Purvis.
The sophomore pitcher recorded her fifth win of the season in the series opener, tossing her first career no-hitter in the process. She struck out 16 batters in the contest, finishing one strikeout short of the school record. The impressive afternoon in the circle opened a run of results that culminated in SoCon Pitcher of the Month honors.
Early League Victories
Conference play got off to a flying start with series sweeps over Samford and Western Carolina. The Eagles traveled to Samford on the opening weekend of spring break and took all three games by expanding score lines: 2-1, 6-2 and 12-3. The series finale was highlighted by four home runs by Georgia Southern and a six-run sixth inning that gave GSU the run-rule win.
The Eagles stayed on the road, traveling for doubleheaders at Tennessee and Mercer on consecutive days before returning home to face Western Carolina. GSU won the opener 5-1 and took the final two games by identical 3-2 margins. Sarah Purvis fanned 10 batters in the series opener, and Brooke Red went the distance in the series finale to improve to 7-0 on the year.
The following weekend, Southern traveled to Kennesaw State for a three-game set against the Owls. GSU was dominant all weekend, handing KSU its first three-game series sweep in program history. The wins took the Eagles to the 20-win plateau at 20-10.
Close Call at UGA
GSU’s biggest week of the season opened with a trip to face the Georgia Bulldogs. With just one win over UGA in program history, the Eagles looked to buck the trend and take down the No. 9 ranked Bulldogs.
After an open frame in the top of the first, Georgia earned two singles and a walk to load the bases with two outs. A second walk in the inning pushed across a run for the Bulldogs. Following the run, GSU pitcher Sarah Purvis retired the next 16 batters to post a two-hitter with five strikeouts. The Eagle offense mustered two hits in the contest, both coming in the first two innings, but was unable to push across a run in the 1-0 loss.
Pivotal UTC Series
After the trip to Georgia, defending SoCon Champion Chattanooga came home to the friendly confines for a rivalry series at Eagle Field. Sarah Purvis blanked the Mocs in game one, striking out 11 batters. Mackenzie Williams powered a home run down the left field line to provide all the offense in the series opener.
Chattanooga, the SoCon’s top hitting team, battled back in game two, taking a 9-4 victory. The Mocs logged five extra base hits in the game to take the come-from-behind win, despite Mackenzie Williams hitting her second home run of the doubleheader.
In the series finale, Sarah Purvis held Chattanooga to just three hits and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. A three-run home run from Mackenzie Williams as well as a two-run shot from Marie Fogle gave Georgia Southern a 6-2 victory. The win put the Eagles in the driver’s seat for the Regular Season SoCon Championship.
The Eagles held serve in the league title race with a three-game sweep at UNCG on Easter weekend. On April 10th, the Eagles traveled to Georgia Tech for the annual doubleheader against the Yellow Jackets.
Game one of the doubleheader was a contest similar to GSU’s trip to face the Georgia Bulldogs a fortnight prior. After allowing a run in the bottom of the first, Sarah Purvis retired the next 13 batters. Tech was able to load the bases in the sixth inning, but Purvis’ ninth strikeout of the game ended the threat. In the seventh inning, GSU put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. A pair of pop outs, however, ended the game as the Eagles dropped the 1-0 decision.
Georgia Southern took an early 1-0 lead in game two, plating pinch runner Brianna McLendon off a fielder’s choice by Alexa Lewis. Georgia Tech tied the game in the fourth inning and added four insurance runs in the sixth to take the 5-1 victory.
More League Success
On the following weekend, GSU returned home to face College of Charleston at Eagle Field. The Eagles played their longest game of the season in the opener, taking a 2-1 victory in 10 innings. Hanna Ennis drove in a run with one out to win the game and post GSU’s sixth-straight SoCon victory. Sarah Purvis fanned 15 batters in the outing to win her 14th game of the season and improve the Eagles to 12-1 in league play.
The Eagles captured the final two games of the series by 4-1 and 4-3 margins. Three days later Georgia Southern faced North Florida for the second time in the campaign, splitting the series. Brooke Red tossed a two-hitter in the Eagles’ 3-0 victory in game one, running her record to 10-0 on the year. In the finale, Georgia Southern stranded nine batters in the 2-1 loss to the Ospreys.
Late April Blues
Southern rattled off a pair of wins over Appalachian State to open the series in Boone and surpass the 30-win plateau for the year. Early runs in both contests were a deciding factor as GSU held on for the wins.
A leadoff double followed by a first inning home run put Appalachian State on top early in the series finale. A two-run home run by Marie Fogle in the third inning leveled the score at 2-2. A leadoff homer in the fourth put the Mountaineers on top, 3-2, and handed GSU its second loss of league play. Despite the loss, Georgia Southern stayed in first place with a superior winning percentage over Chattanooga after the Mocs had a pair of games cancelled due to rain.
Following the loss in Boone, Southern continued its road swing with a trip to face the Jacksonville Ospreys on the banks of the St. Johns River. JU stymied the Eagle offense, taking the 2-0 victory and holding Georgia Southern to no hits in the contest. An RBI single in the third inning of game two by Fogle was enough to post a 1-0 GSU win in the series finale as the final two weeks of the regular season sat on the horizon.
Pressure Builds as Regular Season Concludes
With the loss to Appalachian State combined with Chattanooga’s strong play in the final weeks, Georgia Southern had no margin for error as the Eagles pushed for their first regular season SoCon Championship since 1996.
Georgia Southern’s final home series of the season opened with a 6-5 extra inning victory over Elon. Sarah Purvis struck out 10 batters on the afternoon, but it was the other half of the battery, Mackenzie Williams, who drove in the winning run in the eighth inning. Game two of the doubleheader was a much simpler affair with a 4-0 GSU win. Allie Miles tossed a one-hitter in the contest, the lone hit coming off a ball lost in the sun.
In the 2012 home finale, Sarah Purvis held the Phoenix to two hits and took a 5-0 win to improve to 35-17 on the year and 19-2 in conference play.
The final regular season series of the year, GSU traveled for a trio of games at Furman. The Eagles took the opener 7-0 behind 11 hits from the Georgia Southern offense. In game two, GSU posted a three-run sixth inning to take the come-from-behind win in the regular season’s penultimate game.
Purvis got the call in the regular season finale, tossing a four-hitter while the offense posted a pair of triples en route to a 2-0 GSU victory. It was the 20th win of the season for Purvis as the Eagles captured the 2012 SoCon Regular Season Championship.
The 2012 SoCon Tournament took the league’s nine teams to the rarefied air of Appalachian State’s Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium. Heavy downpours on the tournament’s first day delayed GSU’s opening game to a 10:50 p.m. first pitch. When play got underway, Georgia Southern took a straight-forward 3-0 win over Samford.
The next evening, GSU hit a pair of home runs to take a dominating 6-0 victory over Appalachian State. Sarah Purvis took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but failed on her quest for a second no-hitter in 2012. In consolation, Purvis’ took her 22nd win of the season as the Eagles advanced to face Chattanooga with a trip to the Championship Round on the line.
Chattanooga scored two runs in the second inning, but the Eagles answered in the bottom of the frame with four runs to take a 4-2 advantage. Purvis held the nation’s top-hitting team to just two hits as the offense pounded out a 5-2 win and a trip to the SoCon Championship Round.
Expecting a second matchup with Chattanooga in the championship round, the Eagles watched from the stands as College of Charleston upset Chattanooga and earned battle with the Eagles for the SoCon title.
The Cougars took advantage of the momentum, hitting a two-run home run in the first inning and holding on for a 4-3 win to face Georgia Southern in a decisive Championship Finale. In the second game of the Championship Round, GSU allowed a first inning run, but answered in the top of the second with a pair of home runs by Andrea Tarashuk and Tabby Douberley. The lead grew to 5-2 in the fourth as Lexi Allen and Alexa Lewis hit back-to-back home runs.
Georgia Southern shifted into cruise control over the final innings. The 6-2 Eagle victory cemented the Championship as GSU won its first SoCon tournament title since 2006. The win also secured a berth in the 2012 NCAA Softball Tournament.
Back to Athens
With a school record 42-18 overall record, Georgia Southern earned the No. 3 seed in the Athens Regional of the 2012 NCAA Softball Tournament.
In the Eagles’ return to NCAA tournament play, GSU faced No. 22 North Carolina. Southern earned a lead in the fourth inning when Andrea Tarashuk plated pinch runner Jorie Walker for a 1-0 Eagle lead. The Tar Heels answered in the sixth inning with a single run to tie the game at 1-1. The game went to extra innings as the Heels loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth inning. The game came to an end in the eighth as a hit-by-pitch allowed Carolina to score and take the 2-1 win.
With the loss, Georgia Southern was relegated to the elimination bracket with a game against Coastal Carolina in the cards. In the Eagles’ second game this season against the Chanticleers, a fourth inning run from Tarashuk gave GSU a 1-0 lead. That advantage was short-lived as Coastal scored runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take the 2-1 advantage. Georgia Southern’s pitchers allowed just two Coastal Carolina hits as the 2012 campaign came to an end. GSU finished the year with a 42-20 overall record, smashing the previous school record of 38-27 set in 1999.
The Eagles cleaned up with awards in the 2012 season led by Sarah Purvis earning SoCon Pitcher of the Year honors to go with NFCA All-Region, All-SoCon and SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Marie Fogle followed suit earning NFCA All-Region and All-SoCon honors after being tabbed as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year. It was the third time in her career she was named to the All-SoCon team. Hanna Ennis earned her All-SoCon honors for the first time in her career, while Brooke Red was picked to the SoCon All-Freshman team.
For their stellar play in the SoCon Tournament, Tabby Douberley, Andrea Tarashuk, Allie Miles, Kaitlyn Johnson and Purvis were selected to the All-SoCon Tournament Team. Miles took preseason All-SoCon honors to go with Preseason Pitcher of the Year honors.
Annie Smith picked up SoCon Coach of the Year honors after her first season with the Eagles. Posting a 42-20 overall record, Smith is poised to become the fastest coach to reach 50 career wins in Georgia Southern history.
In 2012 the Eagles set new school records in a number of categories including home runs, walks, total strikeouts fielding percentage and fewest errors. Purvis set a new school record with 253 strikeouts, besting the previous record by nearly 47 strikeouts. Her 23 victories in the circle were also good enough for a new school record. Fogle closed her career by setting a new standard for career slugging, posting a .553 career mark, passing Robyne Siliga for first place.
Georgia Southern’s 2012 season will be one remembered for strong pitching, timely hitting and solid defense. The Eagles surpassed expectations, ending Chattanooga’s run of five-straight regular season league titles and gave a proper send-off to a group of seniors who led by example and did their part to start a dynasty in Statesboro.
- Category: Softball
- Published on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 11:24