GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 3 Florida (37-3, 11-2 SEC) used a pair of two-out home runs in the bottom of the fourth to defeat Mississippi State (23-13, 2-8 SEC), 9-1, in six innings Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
The Gators, who produced just four hits, were the benefactors of 11 walks, the most by the Bulldogs under Head Coach Vann Stuedeman. The Bulldogs entered Friday’s contest having issued 14 total walks in conference play this season.
Through the first 3.2 innings of work, MSU senior starting pitcher Stephanie Becker (6-6) was brilliant against the No. 6 scoring offense in the country, striking out five and allowing no hits. The southpaw ran into trouble with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, surrendering back-to-back singles to UF first baseman Taylor Schwarz and center fielder Kirsti Merritt.
Stuedeman replaced Becker with fellow senior LHP Kylie Vry, who in her first batter faced yielded a three-run home run to the Gators’ Kelsey Horton on a full count. Vry exited the game after freshman righty Jacey Punches replaced her following two-consecutive walks.
With a pair on the bags and still two outs, Punches loaded the bases by issuing a base on balls to shortstop Kelsey Stewart. In the next at-bat, UF third baseman Stephanie Tofft hit her first career grand slam to extend the Gators’ lead to 7-0.
State responded with its first run of the game in the top of the fifth. Senior first baseman Shelby fisher led off with a walk and was pinch ran for by freshman speedster Kayla Winkfield. Winkfield advanced to second when redshirt junior shortstop Erin Nesbit was hit by a pitch, and was pushed over to third when Nesbit was forced out at second courtesy of a grounder to short by junior left fielder Jessica Offutt. Offutt and Winkfield then executed a double steal, with Winkfield tapping the dish thanks to an obstruction call on the Florida catcher.
The Gators tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth frame thanks to an RBI sacrifice fly by Stewart, and ended the game in the sixth with a bases-loaded walk by Horton.
Starkville’s Team heads back to the diamond Saturday at 2 p.m. CT, before wrapping up the series with an 11 a.m. CT first pitch Sunday. Free live audio streaming of the series will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
For live in-game updates of MSU's conference series in Gainesville, 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.