Led by one of the Southeastern Conference's deepest pitching staffs, the Mississippi State softball team recorded a doubleheader sweep Saturday afternoon in the final day of the Bulldog Battle. Starkville's Team defeated Murray State, 4-1, in game one, before a 4-3 walk-off win courtesy of junior Logan Foulks in the 10th inning against Lipscomb in game two. With the sweep, the Bulldogs improved to 6-3 on the season.
"We learned a lot about ourselves this weekend," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "It's exciting to see how much and how quickly we're growing up and gelling as a team."
State's pitching staff finished with 28 strikeouts Sunday, including a school-record 21 K's in game two. The game two total was one shy of tying the SEC single-game record, set by Tennessee in 2007 vs. Florida. For the first time since 1998, MSU had a pitcher fan 14 batters in a single contest, with Alison Owen tying the school record in game two on 76 pitches (61 strikes).
The 10-inning game in the second half of the double dip tied for the longest game in school history (by inning, done 14 times).
Game One Recap
Senior Kylie Vry and freshman Jacey Punches combined to strike out seven and walk none as the Bulldogs improved to 5-3 with a 4-1 win against Murray State. Vry picked up her first win of the year (1-1), while Punches nabbed her first career save. Murray State pitcher Shelby Kosmecki dropped to 1-2 in 2013, while her Racers fell to 1-3 overall.
Senior Jessica Cooley finished 2-for-2 with a career-high two doubles and an RBI. Fellow senior Shelby Fisher tallied a season-high two hits and drove in her first run of the season, while sophomore Julia Echols drove in a season-best two Bulldogs.
State got things going in the bottom of the second with Cooley's first two-bagger of the afternoon. Two batters later, Fisher punched a 3-2 pitch to shallow center for the first run of the game, bringing Cooley home.
Junior Sam Lenahan walked to lead off the bottom of the fourth frame. Freshman Kayla Winkfield pinch ran for Lenahan and immediately stole second base. The Maroon and White wasted no time plating a second run as Cooley's second double allowed Winkfield to tap the dish.
Stuedeman's squad pulled away in the fifth with two runs, which began with two-out walks by junior Logan Foulks and Lenahan. Following another walk by Cooley to load the bases, Echols pulled a 2-1 offering down the line in left for a two-RBI single.
The Racers scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth to give the game its final score of 4-1 in favor of Starkville's Team.
Game Two Recap
Playing international tiebreaker rules in the 10th inning, Foulks roped a base hit up the middle to score fellow junior Jessica Offutt in walk-off fashion for the 4-3 triumph vs. Lipscomb.
State collected four runs on 12 hits, including multiple-hit efforts from junior Heidi Shape (2-for-4, two runs, walk), Lenahan (3-for-4, 2 RBIs, run) and Offutt (2-for-4, run).
Senior southpaw Stephanie Becker started game two and struck out seven in 4.0 innings, before Owen showed up in relief and tied the school record with 14 K's in the final 6.0 frames. The right-hander moved to 3-1 in 2013, while Lipscomb's Heather Parker dropped to 1-2.
The home team wasted no time in the bottom of the first as Shape recorded her first triple of the 2013 campaign (third career) with one out. Following a sacrifice fly by Foulks that scored Shape, Lenahan roped a line drive off the scoreboard in left for a solo shot that made it a 2-0 Bulldog lead.
Both teams went scoreless for two innings before Lipscomb tied it up with a two-run home run by Mickey Bell in the top of the fourth.
State responded in the bottom of the fifth with some hustle and heart. Shape ripped a one-out single to the gap in right and advanced to second on a groundout by Foulks. Lenahan, Shape's childhood best friend, stepped to the plate and dribbled a pitch past the pitcher up the middle. Lenahan was called safe on an infield single, but Shape never slowed down rounding third, sliding head first at the plate to give MSU the lead once again.
The Lady Bisons countered in the top of the sixth with a solo home run by Kristen Sturdivant.
Both teams played scoreless softball through the ninth until the game was moved to international tiebreaker rules in the 10th. With each team getting a base runner on second with no outs to start the inning, it was State that came through in the clutch with Foulks driving in Offutt with a base hit to win the game.
The Bulldogs return to action this Saturday as they travel to Southaven, Miss., for four games in the Blues City Classic, hosted by the University of Memphis. Stuedeman's squad takes on Belmont (11 a.m.) and Wichita State (4 p.m.) Saturday, before battling Southeast Missouri State (9 a.m.) and SIU-Edwardsville (9 a.m.) on Sunday. For more information on the MSU softball program, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB.
On the last day of play at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, the No. 10 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (8-2) dropped a tough 4-2 decision to in-state rival No. 12 Ole Miss (5-2) Sunday at the Seattle Tennis Club.
The loss snapped the Bulldogs' four-match winning streak against their in-state foes.
As always, the matchup between the two rivals was thrilling from start to finish, with an exciting battle for the doubles point starting things off. Ole Miss jumped on the board first, with the No. 16-ranked tandem of Jonas Lutjen and Nik Scholtz defeating State's 13th-ranked Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp 8-4 at the top spot. State equalized with an 8-4 victory from the freshmen duo of Romain Bogaerts and Pedro Dumont against UM's Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark at No. 3, leaving court 2 as the deciding match.
Ole Miss' No. 25 team of William Kallberg and Adrian Forberg Skogeng held a 7-5 lead against MSU's Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson, looking to serve out the match. However, White and Wilkinson held and then earned a break to force a tiebreaker. After getting down 2-0 early, Ole Miss would strike back in the breaker, taking the match and the doubles point 8-7(2).
MSU freshman Jordan Angus dominated UM's Backstrom in straight sets 6-0, 6-3 at the No. 4 spot to open singles and tie the overall score at 1-1. Ole Miss answered back with a key victory on court 1, with No. 24 Scholtz defeating No. 19 Bogaerts 6-4, 6-2.
Bulldog freshman Stefan Vinti then dropped his match to UM's Lindmark 6-4, 6-1 to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead. However, State senior James Chaudry would fire right back with an impressive 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 40 Kallberg at the No. 3 position to cut UM's lead to 3-2.
The match would be clinched on court 6, as State's White dropped a tough 7-6(5), 6-3 decision to Ole Miss' Skogeng, clinching the 4-2 win for the Rebels.
Play on court two would be suspended at that point, with MSU's No. 43 Stropp and UM's No. 6 Lutjen tied at 2-2 in the third set.
State will return to action next weekend at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, hosting Samford Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. CT, and Middle Tennessee Sunday, Feb. 24, at 12 p.m.
For more information on Mississippi State men's tennis, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstatemt) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstatemt).