MSU media relations

MSU softball uses balanced attack to sweep day one of Bulldog Slamboree

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Hosting their final non-conference tournament of the year, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-3) used a hot offense and lockdown pitching to sweep play in day one of the 2017 Bulldog Slamboree on Friday at Nusz Park.

State earned its second-straight 13-hit contest in the day's first game to dispatch Samford (5-12) to the tune of 6-1. In game two, it was all about the domination from senior lefty Alexis Silkwood, as she led MSU to a 4-1 victory against Massachusetts (2-10).
 
Both victories also came after starting out down a run early on, as State rallied back from the early deficits to pick up its sixth and seventh come-from-behind victories of the 2017 season.
 
"To see our kids not worry about being down a run is encouraging," MSU coach Vann Stuedeman said. "As we all know, in the SEC it will be a nail biter until the very last out. So to see us go down and be able to come back is fun to watch."
 
With the wins, the Bulldogs have now won 11-straight games, tying for the fifth-longest winning streak in school history. It marks the longest string of victories since winning 15-in-a-row from Feb. 7-28 in 2014.
 
MSU's 10th-straight win came in the day's first game, which saw the Bulldog offense unload to capture victory against Samford. After a pair of quiet innings to start, SU landed the first punch as MSU walked in a run with the bases loaded in the third. However, the Samford lead would not stand for long.
 
The Maroon and White put the pressure on in the fourth, loading the bases with two outs on the board. Stuedeman would then call upon the bat of sophomore Sarai Niu, who stepped in to pinch hit and delivered a bases-clearing double to the wall in right center. Niu's crushing double pushed MSU ahead, 3-1.
 
Insurance runs came an inning later, as Caroline Seitz connected for her first home run of 2017, blasting a three-run shot over the wall in left. From there, Cassady Knudsen (3-2) earned five of her seven strikeouts to give State the 6-1 victory and secure her second win in as many days.
 
Friday's second game was all about Silkwood, who went the distance for her team-leading sixth complete game of the year. In 7.0 innings of work, Silkwood struck out a season-high nine batters and allowed just one run (unearned) and did not walk a single batter to move to 8-0 on the year. She is now one win away from tying the best start to a season in her career (9-0, 2015).
 
"Silkwood had no walks, which is huge," Stuedeman said. "She scattered seven hits, had no walks and had nine strikeouts, which is a big deal. As long as we can scatter the hits and be able to make some plays, we'll be ok."
 
Complimenting Silkwood's dominance in the circle were a pair of multi-hit performances, as both Bevia Robinson and Katie Anne Bailey went 2-for-3. Down 1-0 in the first, Robinson reached via walk and was moved over to third via a Kat Moore single and a stolen base. A wild pitch would bring her home to tie the game up at 1-1.
 
On the very next batter, Olivia Golden delivered her 10th RBI of the year with a single up the middle, scoring Moore and giving MSU a 2-1 lead. The Dogs would tack on another run an inning later, as Bailey launched a solo shot to center field to push MSU's lead to 3-1.
 
One more insurance run came in the late innings, as Moore turned in another quality at-bat with a sac fly to left field to bring home Robinson. Silkwood would continue to take care of business, working around a lead-off single in the seventh to shut down UMass and secure the 4-1 victory.
 
The Bulldogs remain at home this weekend, welcoming Samford, UMass and Central Arkansas to town for the 2017 Bulldog Slamboree. State kicks off weekend play on Friday, March 3 with a 3 p.m. CT first pitch against Samford before facing UMass at 5:30 p.m.


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