MSU softball loses to Alabama 7-5 in opening round of SEC Tournament

STARKVILLE, Miss. - In the opening round of the 2016 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday at Nusz Park, the 12 seed Mississippi State softball team (26-31) lost a thrilling back-and-forth affair to fifth-seeded Alabama (46-11) 7-5. (Article Source: MSU Athletics Media Relations)

The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide exchanged blows throughout the contest, with Alabama's five-run first inning being the response to a two-run frame from MSU in the top half of the inning.

"This was a great game," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We had a tough season with the third-strongest schedule in the country. These girls have fought and battled, from pitch one to game 57. I could not be more proud of seniors Kayla Winkfield and Loryn Nichols. They have kept our girls fighting all year long. It is a tough year for these two, but they have laid an incredible foundation for Mississippi State softball."

MSU started things off in the top of the first with two outs on the board. Winkfield reached on a fielder's choice and was driven home on a two-run homer to left-center by junior Mackenzie Toler to give the Bulldogs an early 2-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide responded immediately in their half of the first, as the first two batters reached base for Leona Lafaele, who hit a three-run homer to right to give the Tide the 3-2 advantage. They added two more with two outs in the inning on a double that put the Alabama lead at 5-2 to end the first.

The Maroon and White chipped away at UA's lead with two runs in the third. Nichols reached on a walk and was plated on a double by Winkfield. Winkfield advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a double by junior Caroline Seitz that narrowed the Tide lead to 5-4.

Alabama replied with a run of their own in the third on a double by Kallie Case, scoring Sydney Booker. The Crimson Tide threatened to score more, forcing the bases loaded with two gone, but MSU was able to get a force out at the plate for the final out of the inning to escape.

In the fifth, MSU trimmed the deficit to one with a two out single by Toler that scored freshman Emily Heimberger. Alabama answered with a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Chandler Dare to give them the 7-5 lead, capping off the scoring for the evening.

MSU starter junior Alexis Silkwood (4-13) was chased after allowing the first three UA runs of the game. She gave way to sophomore Holly Ward, who allowed four runs with only one of them earned on four hits. She struck out a pair of batters while walking six in 6.0 innings of work.

The Tide started Alexis Osorio (15-6) in the circle and recorded the complete-game victory. Osorio allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits and struck out eight while walking four.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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