Amanda Ivy (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

Bulldogs fall In 11-inning thriller to close the regular season

STARKVILLE, Miss. – In an 11-inning battle that featured tremendous heart and grit, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (36-19, 10-14 SEC) fell in a 10-7 thriller to the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (35-16, 12-12 SEC) on Sunday afternoon at Nusz Park.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs still captured the series, their fourth SEC series win of the year. That is the most since MSU won four series in head coach Vann Stuedeman’s first season in 2012.

The Bulldogs earned a trio of multi-hit showings, led by senior Olivia Golden. Golden tied her career high with three hits, the second such performance of her career. Sarai Niu and Emily Heimberger each turned in a pair of hits, marking their ninth and fifth multi-hit games this year, respectively.

Along with MSU’s multi-hit performers, senior Caroline Seitz kept her career-high hitting streak going. Her third inning single moved her to 17-straight games with a hit, tying for the ninth-longest hitting streak in school history.

Kentucky opened up the game with a three-run first inning. A double steal of second and home opened the scoring, before an RBI double and RBI single pushed the Cats to an early 3-0 advantage.

After Amanda Ivy made two unbelievable catches in the third, including robbing a for-sure Kentucky home run in right center, singles from Madison Cousineau and Seitz set up MSU’s first run of the game. With runners on the corners, Golden drove home Ivy on a single to right, cutting the UK lead to 3-1.

Both sides would trade runs in the fifth, as Kentucky hit a solo home run and Morgan Bell drove home Reggie Harrison with a sac fly to left. UK extended its lead to 5-2 in the sixth, with a scoring error bringing home a run. MSU would get that run back in the home half as Ivy singled home Katie Anne Bailey, cutting the Wildcat lead down to 5-3 heading to the final frame.

Kentucky tacked on two more insurance runs in the seventh and seemed poised to run away with the game, up 7-3. However, as has always been the case with this Bulldog softball squad, it’s never over until it’s over.

A pair of singles, a fielder’s choice and hit by pitch got things going for State in the bottom half of the seventh. With the bases loaded, Bailey took one of MSU’s three HBPs in the inning, bringing home Maddie Dorsett to cut the lead to 7-4. Ivy would draw a walk on the next at-bat and Bevia Robinson would reach on a fielder’s choice right after, scoring two more runs and whittling the UK down to one at 7-6. After Seitz took the innings final HBP, Harrison drew a bases-loaded walk to complete the comeback and tie things up at 7-7.

From there, both sides would go to extras, with each team putting up numerous threats to score. It wasn’t until the 11th that a team would break through, as UK used four hits and an MSU error to plate three runs and take a 10-7 lead. MSU put two on in the home half with two outs on the board, but the Wildcats just escaped, securing a 10-7 win and avoiding the sweep.

With Sunday’s result, the Bulldogs will enter this week’s SEC Tournament in Knoxville as the ninth seed, setting up a showdown with in-state rival Ole Miss. First pitch is set for 2:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, May 10 and will be nationally televised on SEC Network. This is MSU’s fourth-straight appearance in the conference tournament and 16th in school history. Wednesday’s game will be the first meeting between MSU and Ole Miss in SEC Tournament history.

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