"Opening night was incredible," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "From marketing, to those who gave speeches at the ceremony, the president; it was everything you could dream of. It was even better that we won the game and it was a one-hit shutout. I am so proud of what Mississippi State has done for this softball program."
Sophomore Holly Ward started in the circle for State and proved to be in control from the start as she struck out two in the top of the first.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, junior Amanda Ivy forced the Eagles into their second error of the inning which scored sophomore Morgan Bell and put MSU ahead 1-0.
Later in the second, a standup double from senior Kayla Winkfield scored freshman Sarai Niu and senior Loryn Nichols to extend the lead to 3-0. Two batters later, junior Caroline Seitz scored Ivy with an infield single to put State up 4-0.
The sole hit of the night for the Eagles came in the third, but the runner would not get further than third before the inning ended courtesy of a stellar defensive stop from Seitz.
Having made the start in right field in her first collegiate game, freshman Sarai Niu's first collegiate hit came in the form of a double to center field with one out in the third. Courtesy of a single from junior Katie Anne Bailey and a wild pitch, MSU's lead grew to 5-0 lead. Two batters later, Ivy sent a ground ball through the left side of the infield to push the score to its final tally of 6-0.
The winning pitcher, Ward (1-0), finished with a complete-game shutout as she only surrendered one hit on the night and struck out eight of the 23 batters she faced. For the Eagles, starter Kierra Camp (0-1) suffered the loss as she allowed six runs, three earned, on six hits and one walk in three innings.
State returns to action Friday, Feb. 12 for the second day of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic against Houston at 5:30 p.m. CT. Admission to all games at Nusz Park is free and open to the public.