Wilkerson (1-0) worked a hitless seventh inning to record the victory following a strong setup from Bulldog ace Kasey Whitehead over the first six innings of play. Whitehead scattered seven hits in six innings of work and struck out one Arizona State batter. Arizona State all-American Erica Beach (6-1) took her first loss of the season, striking out four State batters and surrendering a pair of runs on seven hits.
The victory, coupled with a 7-1 decision over preseason #1 Arizona two weeks ago in Phoenix, gave the Bulldogs a clean sweep of the two major Arizona schools. The win also moved Mississippi State to a 2-0 record against the perennial national power PAC-10 Conference - a record which currently paces the Southeastern Conference.
State wasted no time in lighting up the rightfield scoreboard, utilizing a leadoff walk and a stolen base by Wilkerson to move a runner into scoring position with no outs. Jaspers' slow roller to third base with the next at-bat was mishandled by third baseman Phelan Wright allowing Jaspers to reach base safely.
Wilkerson then took advantage of an errant catch and crossed the plate after first baseman Nichole Thompson's pickoff throw sailed over the head of Adriana Garcia. The Bulldogs led 1-0.
Arizona State got a runner aboard in the top of the third on a leadoff single by Missy Hixon, then used a sacrifice bunt and a Kara Brun single to move the runner to third. Wright's sacrifice fly to deep leftfield with the next at-bat brought Hixon home to knot the score at one apiece.
State threatened again in the fifth, utilizing a hit and a pair of Arizona State errors to juice the bases with two outs, but Beach got Krystal Tillman to ground out to third and end the threat. The Sun Devils threatened to take the lead in the top of the seventh, moving a runner to third base with one out, but Hixon's fly to right was easily collected by Nelson, who nixed the threat by gunning out Jennifer Forner at the plate. Overall, the teams combined to strand 14 runners (MSU 8, ASU 6) on the basepaths.
#24 Mississippi State 2, #8 Arizona State 1
#8 Arizona State 001 000 0 - 1 7 4
#24 Miss. State 100 000 1 - 2 7 0
Beach and Garcia; Whitehead, Wilkerson (7) and Waterman. W - Wilkerson (2-0). L - Beach (6-1). Save - None. 2B - McMichael.
[Game 2] COLUMBUS, Ga. - Mississippi State (10-2) rallied for a pair of runs in the fifth inning, then rode the shoulders of a pair of its pitchers, as the Bulldogs stayed perfect against top 10 teams this season with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over 10th-ranked Michigan (5-2) Friday evening at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Five different players recorded hits for the Bulldogs with sophomore Kate Jaspers paving the way on a 1-for-1 showing with a pair of sacrifice hits and two RBIs. Senior Kasey Whitehead turned in a 1-for-3 performance on a solo shot in the second inning. Michigan's Stefanie Volpe led all hitters on a 2-for-3 showing with one RBI and a run scored.
Starter Kasey Whitehead (5-2) continued her streak of impressive appearances against top 10 opponents, scattering six hits and striking out one in five innings of work to record her career-high fifth victory. Wilkerson allowed two hits and struck out one in the final two innings of relief to record her fourth save of the campaign and move to within two of matching the NCAA career record.
Michigan starter Marissa Young (2-2), one of the main cogs in the Wolverines' run to the NCAA Women's College World Series last season, allowed five hits and three earned runs to take the complete game loss for Michigan.
The loss effectively snapped a four-game skid to the Wolverines that included three games decided by two runs or less and one decided in extra frames. The win also moved Mississippi State to 4-0 against top 25 teams this season, including three victories against top 10-ranked teams.
Michigan got on the board quickly, utilizing a leadoff single by Kelsey Kollen and a pass ball by catcher Blaire Brown to get a runner into scoring position with one out. Stefanie Volpe followed with an RBI single up the middle to give the Wolverines a quick 1-0 lead. Following a pop out, Young delivered the goods again, plating Volpe with a single to centerfield to make the score 2-0.
After Young retired the first two State batters in the top of the second, Whitehead pulled her team to within one on a solo bomb to left field that grazed the tip of the web in Courtney Betley's glove before hitting the grass on the other side of the fence.
The Bulldogs got a pair of runners on with two outs in the fifth, via a Jennifer Nelson single and an intentional walk issued to Wilkerson. That set the table for a Jaspers' double that found the gap in right-centerfield allowing both runners to score for a 3-2 Mississippi State lead.
Mississippi State will return to action Saturday when it wraps up round-robin pool play at the NFCA Leadoff Classic with a 10 a.m. game against UConn (0-2). Following the completion of pool play, State will advance to single elimination/consolation bracket play in either the Gold, Silver of Bronze championships.
#24 Mississippi State 3, #10 Michigan 2
#24 Miss. State 010 020 0 - 3 5 1
#10 Michigan 200 000 0 - 2 8 0
Whitehead, Wilkerson (6) and Brown; Young and Mack. W - Whitehead (5-2). L - Young (2-2). Save - Wilkerson (4). HR - MSU: Whitehead.