STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State stole eight bases for the first time in over 11 years as the Bulldogs picked up their first win of the 2013 season with a 5-2 triumph vs. Troy Friday evening at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Maroon and White evened its early 2013 record to 1-1, while the Trojans dropped to an even 1-1.
"It's great to get that first win under our belt," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "To bounce back after a tough loss Thursday showed our competitive mental toughness. I hope all the Bulldog fans come out to our doubleheader tomorrow."
Stuedeman's squad stole eight bases for the first time since swiping eight vs. Belmont on Feb. 13, 2002, finishing two shy of the school record set Feb. 22, 1997 vs. Alcorn State. Sophomore Ashley Phillips nabbed three herself, becoming the seventh player all-time to accomplish the feat.
The new dynamic duo of junior Logan Foulks and sophomore Julia Echols tallied their first hits as Bulldogs, with each recording an RBI. Also registering hits for Starkville's Team were junior Heidi Shape (1-for-4, run), Phillips (1-for-3, run), freshman Kayla Winkfield (1-for-3) and junior Jessica Offutt (1-for-2, run).
Southpaw Stephanie Becker opened up her senior campaign in style with 5.1 innings of two-hit softball, picking up the win with seven strikeouts and one earned run allowed. Junior righty Alison Owen closed out the game with 1.1 innings of hitless ball, picking up her first save since arriving in Starkville.
Phillips began the hitting surge for the Bulldogs as she singled up the middle in the bottom half of the second and immediately stole second and third. Senior Chrissie Rovtar reached on a walk and stole second for the first time in 56 career games.
With two in scoring position, Echols grounded out to shortstop, driving in Phillips for the early 1-0 lead in favor of the Maroon and White. Rovtar advanced to third on an RBI single to left by Winkfield, and then scored on a fielding error by the Trojans' third baseman during Offutt's first at-bat of the contest.
The Bulldogs scored again on an error in the fifth inning, which was jumpstarted by a one-out walk by junior Sam Lenahan. Freshman Loryn Nichols pinch-ran for the first baseman and quickly made it to third base on a stolen bag and a throwing error by the catcher. With Nichols at third, Phillips put the ball in play to third base, reaching on another error by the corner infielder. The error allowed Nichols to tap the dish, making it a 3-0 MSU lead.
After Troy scored two runs in the top of the sixth to make it a one-run game, State added two clutch insurance runs in the sixth to secure the first victory of Stuedeman's second season. With one out in the bottom of the sixth frame, Offutt tripled down the line in left, eventually scoring on a throwing error by the left fielder on the play. Later on in the inning, Shape scored the fifth and final run for the Bulldogs.
The Maroon and White return tomorrow for a 3:30 p.m. tilt with Tennessee State, followed by a 5:30 p.m. first pitch against Georgia State. Before then, two games will take place as part of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic, beginning with an 11 a.m. contest between Troy and SIU-Edwardsville. For the entire tournament schedule, click here. For more information on MSU Softball, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB and like them on Facebook.com/MStateSB.