STARKVILLE, Miss. - Junior Ka'ili Smith hit her first home run of the season and drove in all four of Mississippi State's runs as the Bulldogs fell 9-4 to Southern Illinois in Sunday's championship game of the Bulldog Round-Robin.
In addition to her home run, the Kapolei, Hawaii, native also had a two-run base hit in the fifth en route to earning all-tournament accolades along with Kylie Vry, Sam Lenahan and Courtney Nesbit.
Smith broke a scoreless tie in the fourth as she blasted a 1-2 pitch from SIU starter Brittney Lang over the wall in right field to score Heidi Shape, who doubled to open the frame for Mississippi State (4-5).
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Salukis (5-3) tied the game the next half inning on a Morgan Barchan RBI double, one of her two hits in the game, and a Bulldog fielding error.
Smith came through with another clutch hit in the bottom of the fifth to put State back ahead 4-2. Shelby Fisher sparked the frame with a double to the gap in left-center. Senior Ali Bainbridge followed with a base hit, and two batters later, Smith lined a shot to left field that plated pinch-runner Briana Bell and Bainbridge.
The Bulldogs were once again unable to hold the lead as Southern Illinois took advantage of three Mississippi State errors and a seven-run sixth inning to clinch the tournament title.
"We didn't help ourselves defensively. With Sam Lenahan sick and Brittany Bell getting hurt early in the game, we had to patch people in, and it ended up hurting us defensively," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "You can't keep giving your opponent extra outs, and I thought we did that a lot today, especially in that sixth inning.
"We did a good job early of putting some runs on the board. Ka'ili had a pair of big hits, and it's nice to see her start swinging the bat again because we are going to need that," Miller added. "Ultimately, though, we let them have that big inning and it ended up hurting us."
A leadoff home run by tournament MVP Michelle Bradley in the decisive sixth brought Stephanie Becker into the game in relief of Vry, who surrendered three runs (two earned) and struck out four over five innings.
SIU touched Becker more runs in the frame to drop her record to 2-1 on the season.
Alex Peters held State to one hit over the final 2.1 innings to improve her record to 2-1. Brittney Lang drew the start, going 4.2 innings and allowing four runs on six hits.
The Bulldogs wrap a five-game homestand Wednesday, hosting in-state foe Southern Mississippi at 4 p.m. Admission to all Mississippi State home softball games is free.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - In a 4 hour and 29 minute marathon, the Mississippi State women's tennis team took a thrilling 4-3 decision from Troy University at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
"This was very beneficial for our girls to pick up two wins on the weekend," assistant coach Courtney Steinbock said. "Anytime you pick up two wins on a weekend it builds a lot of confidence and focus on the courts. We just have to keep working and get the girls prepared for next weekend."
Starting off in doubles, Troy State took an early lead on court 2 where the Trojan tandem of Olfa Dhaoui and Rosaura Ramirez-Viega defeated MSU's pair of Mariia Ryzhova and Olesya Tsigvintseva 8-5. However, things quickly changed in the No. 1 and 3 positions.
Alexandra Perper and Danielle Terpko of Mississippi State fought a thrilling battle before ousting the Trojan duo of Leonie Guijt and Karoline Grymel 8-6. The doubles clinching point came on court 4 where the freshmen Lady Bulldog tandem of Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia took down TU's pair of Olivia Battye and Lyubon Dorofeeva 8-5.
Turning to singles action, the match became a back and forth affair. In the third spot, Terpko dropped a two-set decision to Guijt, 6-0, 6-2. Pietraroia took the next point for the lady Bulldogs on court 6 as she took down Battye in a three-set thriller 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Ryzhova dropped her first set to Grymel at No. 2, but fought a tough second set. However, Grymel outlasted Ryzhova as she went ahead and took the victory 6-3, 7-6(3). A similar situation occurred on court 5 where Ramirez-Viega took the first set over Dion 6-1. Dion battled through the second set but eventually fell 6-1, 7-5, giving Troy the 3-2 lead.
However, Perper took the reins at top spot where she ousted Dhaoui in a thrilling three setter 6-1, 5-7, 6-3, tying the match at 3-3 and leaving the deciding point to Tsigvintseva.
Tsigvintseva dropped her first set 6-4 to Dorofeeva but fought her way back to take the second set 6-4. After being down 4-2 in the third set, Tsigvintseva battled her way to victory as she collected the victory on court 4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, giving MSU the 4-3 win over Troy.
The Lady Bulldogs are back in action next Sunday, February 27, as they play host to Louisiana-Monroe. Match time is set for 1 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre where admission to all MSU home matches is free.
Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the sixth-straight season the Mississippi State men's golf team will tee off in the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate played at the par-72 Magnolia Grove Crossings Golf Course in Mobile, Ala.
MSU will join 14 other teams at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate including SEC-foes Kentucky and Vanderbilt, host-school South Alabama and in-state foe Southern Mississippi.
Two years ago the Bulldogs claimed the title at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate and last season finished in a tie for sixth at the three-round event.
MSU is coming off a disappointing showing in its spring opener at the Gator Invitational where State finished 12th with a tournament total of 903. A bright spot for the Maroon and White was sophomore John Darden who made his season debut and posted career numbers at the Gator Invitational including a top 20 individual finish.
Darden will make a return to the Bulldog lineup this week and will be joined by junior Lee Heaton, sophomore Brad Mason and freshman Chad Ramey who will all be making their team-high sixth appearance this season. Also, sophomore Robi Calvesbert will be in MSU's lineup for the fifth time this season.
"We had our best practices of the year this week," Coach Clay Homan said. "We came away from our first tournament of the spring knowing where some of our weaknesses lie and I feel like we made some progress in getting some things corrected."
MSU will tee off at approximately 8:30 a.m. CT on Monday. Live stats available at www.mstateathletics.com.