Bully Bombers Jump On Cougars Early En Route To DH Sweep

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Photo Courtesy of hailstate.com

Charleston, S.C. - Scoring a total of 13 runs in the first two innings, the Mississippi State softball team improved to 19-6 with a doubleheader sweep of College of Charleston (11-9) Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs won the first game at Patriots Point by a score of 8-0 in run-rule fashion (five innings), before concluding the sweep with a 12-1 five-inning victory in game two.

"Our number one goal on offense is to cross home as many times as possible, so it was encouraging to see our hitters take the zero-to-zero scoreboard mentality to the dish in every at-bat," Assistant Coach Alan Reach said.

The Bully Bomber trio of juniors Heidi Shape, Sam Lenahan and Logan Foulks combined to go 12-for-16 (.750) with 13 RBIs, 10 runs, four doubles, two home runs and a pair of walks. State's speed also showed up at the diamond, as the Bulldogs tallied seven infield singles and stole five bases on the day.

"All three in the middle of the order did a great job of working the process and treating every at-bat the same," Assistant Coach Beth Mullins said. "They were rewarded with barrels all day long."

The 12 runs tied for the most by a Stuedeman-coached team, while the 15 hits were one shy of the most under Stuedeman since her arrival in Starkville in June 2011.

Stuedeman's pitching staff continued to baffle hitters, as the combination of junior right-hander Alison Owen (10-3) and senior left-hander Stephanie Becker started the doubleheader sweep and held Cougar batters to a microscopic .091 average (2-for-22). Due to Becker only pitching two innings in game two, freshman Jacey Punches picked up her second collegiate victory (2-0), throwing a scoreless fourth and fifth frame to end game two.

GAME ONE RECAP

Owen tossed her fifth complete-game shutout of the season with nine strikeouts and one hit allowed in 5.0 innings of work. The Newnan, Ga., native improved to 6-0 in games away from Starkville with a mind-boggling 0.18 ERA (1 ER in 39.2 innings).

Five different Bulldogs registered multiple hits to start the Bulldog barrage. Shape finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two runs and a double, while her childhood best friend Lenahan went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and runs to go along with a walk. Foulks and freshman Loryn Nichols each went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while redshirt junior Erin Nesbit had two hits and an RBI.

Just like Tuesday's win at Jacksonville State, the Maroon and White wasted no time scoring in the top of the first. Junior Jessica Offutt started off with an infield single to first base. After immediately stealing second, the speedster put the first run on the scoreboard when Shape lined a double off the wall over the center fielder's head. Shape was joined on the base paths thanks to a walk by Lenahan, and eventually scored on a Texas Leaguer single down the left-field line by Foulks. Senior Jessica Cooley then bunted Shape and Lenahan over one base each, before redshirt sophomore Briana Bell plated Lenahan on a sacrifice fly.

State doubled its score in the second thanks to three runs on four hits. Following a groundout to start the inning, Nichols sprinted to first on an infield single to second. After stealing first on the first pitch to Offutt, Nichols landed on third when Offutt grounded out to the hot corner. Nichols scored on an infield RBI base knock to the shortstop by Shape, who also tapped the dish when Lenahan sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right for her sixth home run of the season.

The visitors put the game in run-rule territory in the top of the fifth frame with two runs. Cooley doubled on a 2-2 offering, and stayed there when Bell drew a base on balls. Nesbit drove in Cooley on a single to left, but was thrown out at second in an attempt to stretch it to a double. With Bell at third, Nichols registered her first-career RBI with her second high-bouncing infield single of the game.

GAME TWO RECAP

Becker was lights out early, but the offense was so effective the southpaw did not earn a decision. The lefty struck out four and gave up a hit in two scoreless innings. Junior Shana Sherrod made her season debut with an inning of relief, while Punches closed out the game with four strikeouts and zero walks in two innings of work.

Foulks was a monster in game two, going a perfect 3-for-3 with five RBIs, two runs, a double and her team-leading seventh long ball of the season. Offutt tied a career high with three hits with two runs, a stolen base and an RBI. Nichols had another multiple-hit game (2-for-3) with a pair of runs and a stolen base, while Lenahan went 2-for-3 at the dish with three RBIs and two runs. Sophomore Swayze Hollenhead recorded her first hit of 2013 in pinch-hit duty, while freshman Olivia Golden notched her first collegiate hit as a pinch hitter in the third.

Stuedeman's squad only needed the first inning to put away the Cougars and conclude the doubleheader sweep. State scored seven runs on six hits in the opening stanza, including back-to-back doubles and a three-run home run.

Offutt started it off once again with an infield single and her eighth stolen base of the year. Shape walked to put two on with no outs, before Lenahan and Foulks crushed back-to-back doubles off the left-field wall to make it 3-0. Following a walk by Cooley, Bell launched a 1-0 offering over the wall in left for a three-run home run to double up the Cougars, 6-0. Two back-to-back outs followed the home run before Nichols started a two-out rally with a walk. The freshman swiped second, took third on a passed ball and scored when Offutt drove her in with a single to left as MSU batted around.

Sitting on a comfortable 7-0 lead in the third, the Bulldogs made a shortened game possible with five runs on five hits. The inning started when Nichols singled, Offutt singled and Shape reached on a fielding error by the Cougars' third baseman. On a 2-1 count, Lenahan hit it hard and low for an RBI single up the middle, scoring two. State had runners on the corners when Foulks detonated the first pitch of her at-bat for a three-run Bully Bomb to give MSU its 10th, 11th and 12th run of the game.

College of Charleston's only run of the day came on a pinch-hit home run by Carly Hansis in the third inning of game two.

UP NEXT

Starkville's Team returns to the diamond Friday for a single game at Charleston Southern beginning at 1 p.m. ET (Noon CT). For live in-game updates of MSU's final game of spring break in Charleston, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.


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