A two-out, full-count single up the middle from Courtney Sutter lifted Kennesaw State to a 2-1 eight-inning victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday afternoon at Bailey Park.
The Owls were led offensively by Natalie Rhodes and Sara Sikes, who each picked up two hits. Bulldog freshman Caroline Seitz continued her hot streak with two more hits, one double and one home run.
Mississippi State sophomore Jacey Punches started and threw the first four innings. She scattered five hits, struck out two and yielded an unearned run. Freshman Alexis Silkwood (5-1) took the loss and threw three-and-a-third innings. She surrendered two hits and an unearned run with one walk. She struck out three. Senior Alison Owen recorded one out in the eighth inning before Sutter's hit. Paige Mathews started for the Owls and threw the first five frames. She gave up three hits and one run while fanning three. Amanda Henderson tossed the remaining three frames, issuing two hits and fanning five.
The Bulldogs (20-5) put a runner on second base with one out in the top of the first and second innings, but could not push across a run.
In the top of the third, Mississippi State stranded two when Kennesaw State turned an inning-ending double play. With one out, senior Heidi Shape was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. She stole second base on the first pitch to junior Julia Echols, who beat out an infield single to put runners on the corners. Senior Sam Lenahan tried to put down the suicide squeeze, but third baseman Kara Chambers made the catch and threw back to shortstop Carly Van Auken, who was covering third base, for the inning-ending double play.
Coming off the defensive hold, the Owls mounted their first scoring threat in the bottom of the third. Van Auken doubled to left center with one out, but a foul out and groundout closed the frame.
Mississippi State left another stranded in the top of the fourth as Seitz led off with a her Southeastern Conference-leading 10th double of the campaign, but a foul out, groundout and pop out left her on base.
It was the Owls (11-10) who a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth but were held scoreless. Rhodes led off with a bunt single and moved to third on a single up the middle from Sikes. With runners on the corners and no outs, Stephanie Phillips put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Sikes to second. Punches fought out of trouble with consecutive groundouts that stranded the pair.
Kennesaw State did break the scoreless draw in the bottom of the fifth and took a 1-0 lead. Pinch hitter Bianca Durant led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third as Taylor Denton reached on a Silkwood fielding error. With runners on the corners, Denton took off for second base and senior catcher Logan Foulks' throw went into center field, allowing Durant to score. Silkwood shut the door with back-to-back strikeouts.
In the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs answered with a run to even the score at 1-1. Seitz led off with a home run to left field. Foulks followed with a bloop single to left and, after a strikeout, junior Ashley Phillips was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Sophomore Kayla Winkfield put down a bunt that rolled past a charging Chambers, but Van Auken was standing on third base, picked up the ball and retired Foulks on the force. A strikeout left the pair stranded.
Kennesaw State had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth, but was held off the scoreboard. Sikes led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Megan Veringa delivered a one-out single to left center that put runners on the corners. Veringa was called out for leaving early, and after a walk, a Durant groundout to third baseman Seitz kept the game even at 1-1.
The Owls ended the game in the bottom of the eighth with Sutter's key hit to win 2-1. Rhodes led off reaching on an error and Sikes was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Angie Dascoli put down a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners up a base. Owen entered for Silkwood and retired Veringa on a foul out, but a full-count single up the middle from Sutter ended the contest.
Mississippi State continues its spring-break trip to Georgia on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. CT contest at Georgia State (11-8).
After earning their first SEC victory of the season on Sunday against Tennessee, the Mississippi State women's tennis team has re-entered the ITA team rankings for the second time this season, positioned at No. 61.
This is the highest team ranking for the Bulldogs since being ranked at No. 57 on March 23, 2010.
In addition, sophomore Georgiana Patrasc jumped from No. 93 to No. 65 in singles. Despite a loss to Georgia's No. 10 Lauren Herring on Friday, Patrasc picked up her second dual match win of the season on Sunday, a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 55 Eve Repic from Tennessee.
The State doubles tandem of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran also moved into the doubles rankings this week, entering at No. 40. Perper and Tran have gotten off to a 2-0 start in SEC play, and picked up a huge win over Georgia's No. 2 ranked duo of Herring and Maho Kowase on Friday.
"The girls have been working hard all season," Greenan said. "I feel like we're getting better, and doubles is also improving. It was big getting the doubles point over Tennessee and, even in the loss against Georgia on Friday, we picked up a win over the No. 2 doubles ranked team in the country. I feel like we've got a little bit of momentum now and a little more confidence."
The Bulldogs (9-5 overall, 1-3 SEC) will host No. 24 Kentucky (13-3 overall, 3-1 SEC) this Friday, March 14, at 3 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Live stats will be available on hailstate.com. State will also welcome No. 11 Vanderbilt this Sunday, March 16, at 1 p.m.
Bulldogs say 'Aloha' as the Mississippi State Women's golf team is set for its first ever appearance in Hawaii in the 29th annual Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational on Marines Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, Oahu.
The two-day, three-round event begins on Tuesday with back-to-back rounds followed by the final round Wednesday at the par 72, 6,099-yard Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course.
"These student athletes have worked incredibly hard to qualify for this trip to Hawaii," MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "As in awe as we are of this beauty, we are here to compete."
MSU is set to compete against the 16-team field of Columbia, No. 39 Gonzaga, Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo, Idaho, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, No. 19 North Carolina State, North Texas, Osaka Gakuin of Japan, SMU, TCU, UTEP and Washington State.
Brown-Lemm has chosen a new lineup for the tournament with All-American Ally McDonald leading the Maroon and White. McDonald is coming off a top-15 finish in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Championship that led to her fourth-career SEC Golfer of the Week honors.
Jessica Peng and Rica Tse will again be participating for MSU as both have played in every tournament this season. Freshman Peng has fired the second-best Bulldog score in each of the spring events, including a top-10 finish in the Florida State Match-Up.
The fabulous freshman duo of Blaise Carabello and Ji Eun Baik round out the lineup. Carabello will make her first consecutive team appearances of the season while Baik rejoins the lineup after missing out on the Sugar Bowl Championship.
The Bulldogs tee off the opening shotgun round Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. CST, followed immediately by the second round.
Live stats and post-round results will be available through Hailstate.com.
Despite carding a 4-under-par 68 on Tuesday, Mississippi State senior Chad Ramey fell one stroke shy of winning back-to-back Tiger Invitationals.
Ramey (9-under-par 207) sat only four strokes back going into the final round at Grand National, a familiar spot for the Fulton, Miss., native as he came from behind last season to win the Tiger Invitational.
The Bulldogs (1-under-par 873) moved up a spot to claim a third-place finish at Opelika. MSU improved to 57-43-3 on the year, after picking up its third Top 5 of the season. No. 28 Auburn won the Tiger Invitational with a 22-under-par 842.
"We got better each round and that's what you want," Bulldog head coach Clay Homan said. "We still can improve quite a bit around the greens, but as we play more rounds, that will come. Chad had another great week and was in contention until the end."
Ramey's runner-up card beat out four Top-75 golfers at Grand National.
Sophomore Ben Wood (3-over-par 219) finished tied for 17th overall in his first appearance of the spring. Wood has finished with at least a Top 25 in all five events he has played this season.
In his first appearance of the spring, senior Barrett Edens (7-over-par 223) finished two strokes shy of his second Top 25 of the season. Edens tied with three others at 28th.
Rounding out the Maroon and White scorecard at Grand National was senior Joe Sakulpolphaisan (9-over-par 225) and freshman Jackson Dick (22-over-par 238), finishing tied for 35th and 66th respectively.
In his third event of the season, freshman Ben Follett-Smith (13-over-par 229) tied for 51st overall while competing as an individual.
The Bulldogs will drive four hours south to Tallahassee, Fla., on Friday for the Seminole Invitational, hosted by Florida State. MSU finished runner-up last season.