Road Trip Diaries: Beating the Rain – and Snow?! – in Good Ole Funroe

National College Softball Editor Justin McLeod is on the road throughout the 2022 college softball season, chronicling his travels in a Road Trip Diary. On Friday, March 11th, his travels took him to the Bayou State for a game between Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Monroe.

A new look for Georgia Southern, a new feel for ULM. The Sun Belt series between the two teams that kicked off on Friday had the chance to show a lot of what both teams truly bring to the table this year.

Georgia Southern has struggled in the early goings of the season, while the opposite has been the case for ULM – the Warhawks have had their best start to a season in recent memory.

On Friday, some of the pieces that have made the Warhawk puzzle so good early in the year definitely shone through, while Georgia Southern proved themselves to be an incredibly scrappy bunch.

Kinsey Kackley looked sharp in the circle early for ULM; a true freshman, I was impressed with her poise and ability to locate her pitches. A questionable strike zone notwithstanding, Kackley did a nice job through a near-complete-game effort; she collected six strikeouts on the day.

Kackley and Georgia Southern pitcher Kastin Belogorska combined for a true pitcher’s duel through the first 4.5 innings, before ULM broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. A pair of RBI single and a 2-run triple by Lourdes Bacon gave the Warhawks a hearty lead.

Bacon’s extra-base hit caused some controversy in the Georgia Southern dugout, as the ball appeared to tail foul but was called fair. “Foul ball” was the fairly-consensus opinion of everyone but the home plate umpire – who made the call – and the call ultimately stood.

Rain looked to be moving in quickly as the fifth inning continued, and the Warhawks’ offense played with a sense of urgency like they knew the game was on the line. A nicely placed gapper by Korie Kreps was a quality piece of hitting that ULM had not seen in the game’s early-goings.

After the fifth inning, though, the tides turned in the opposite direction. An RBI sac fly in the top of the sixth inning got Georgia Southern on the board, but the Eagles bats really began to click in the seventh. After a ULM pitching change, a wild pitch saw the Eagles score their second run of the day, then a throwing error in the infield that could have ended the game instead extended it and gave the Eagles another run. First baseman Faith Shirleyalready responsible for one RBI in the game, hit an RBI single that tied the ballgame and gave the Eagles new life.

Two RBI singles in the eighth inning were all the Eagles needed to seal the game and the 6-4 victory.

I was impressed with Kackley in the circle for ULM; she didn’t look like a true freshman. There are some dangerous Warhawk bats in their lineup, and with more consistency, they could be a potent offensive threat. For Georgia Southern, Belogorska looked fairly effective in the circle outside of that fifth inning, including in the two innings that followed, but what I was most impressed with from the Eagles’ side of things was their fight. Scrappy is still the best word that I can come up with to describe them; you can’t underrate heart.

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