STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State (27-17) hammered out 15 hits and scored all its runs in the first three innings on its way to a 9-2 victory over Southern Miss (14-27) Thursday evening at the MSU Softball Field.
Southern Miss took an early lead in the first inning. With one out, Karissa Jones and Logan James singled and advanced on Megan Hill's ground out. Kelli Miller then got Jennifer Fox to ground to short, but Courtney Bures mishandled the ball, allowing Fox to reach and both runners to score, giving USM the 2-0 advantage.
State tied the game in the bottom half. Hayle Guess began things with a two-out single, and stole second. Bures and Katie Cooley then hit back-to-back doubles, tying the game.
MSU took the lead in the second. Katie Johnson led off with a single, and moved to second on Jessie Bailey's sacrifice bunt. Southern Miss starter Emily Howard was then called for an illegal pitch, moving Johnson to third. Michelle Kinney brought her home with a single, giving the Bulldogs the lead. Chelsea Bramlett followed with a single, and Nakita Boyce moved them over. Hayle Guess then made it 5-2 with a double to right center.
The Golden Eagles threatened in the third. With two outs, Hill walked and Fox singled, putting runners at the corners. But Lauren Castellvi flied out to center, ending the threat.
MSU broke the game open in third. With one out and Cooley on second, Katie Johnson singled, scoring Cooley. Jessie Bailey followed with a walk. Two batters later, Bramlett singled through the left side, scoring Johnson. Boyce closed the scoring in the inning, singling home Bailey and Bramlett for a 9-2 Mississippi State lead.
The Bulldogs had chances to end the game in both the fifth and six innings, both times having runners at first and second with one out, but both times could not get the runner home.
Hayle Guess led MSU, going 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI. Chelsea Bramlett was also 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Kelsey Nurnberg improved to 7-2.
The Bulldogs will return to action Saturday, April 14, when they host No. 6 LSU in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. (CT).