MSU Splits With No. 16/18 Missouri

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Senior Sam Lenahan hit a two-run home run to help Mississippi State to a 9-3 victory in game one Saturday.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State and Missouri played to a split Saturday at the MSU Softball Stadium as the Bulldogs won the first game 9-3 before suffering an 8-1 setback in the nightcap.

Mississippi State (30-12, 3-9 SEC) reached the 30-win mark with the victory in the opener. The Bulldogs have won 30 or more for three-straight seasons, the most since 11 consecutive years of 30 or more victories from 1998-2008. The Bulldogs also earned their third win of the campaign against a ranked foe.

Senior Sam Lenahan guided the offense in the doubleheader going five-for-seven with two runs scored and three batted in. Classmate Logan Foulks helped the offense with two runs batted in and two scored. Senior Jessica Offutt went four-for-seven with a pair of runs scored in the doubleheader.

In game one, senior Alison Owen (15-7) scattered nine hits and allowed three runs, two earned, and struck out nine. Casey Stangel (12-5) took the loss for Missouri, yielding nine runs, eight earned, on 11 hits and a trio of walks in four-and-two-thirds frames. She struck out two and hit one. Alora Marble tossed the remaining inning-and-a-third, giving up one hit and fanning one.

The second contest had freshman Alexis Silkwood (8-4) take the loss. She tossed two-and-a-third frames, yielding four runs, three earned, on four hits and two walks. Senior Shana Sherrod surrendered two runs, both unearned, and did not record an out. Sophomore Jacey Punches recorded two outs and allowed two walks. Owen tossed the remaining four frames, surrendering two runs on three hits. She fanned one. Missouri’s Tori Finucane (12-5) went the distance, allowing one run on nine hits. She struck out four and walked two.

In the opener, MSU took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, highlighted by a two-run home run from Lenahan. Offutt singled to open the frame, stole second base and, after a fly out, scored on the long ball to left from Lenahan. Following a groundout, freshman Caroline Seitz beat out an infield single and junior Julia Echols bunted for a single. Silkwood drove a single up the middle that plated Seitz for the three-run cushion. A groundout ended the frame.

Missouri (27-10, 6-6 SEC) got a run back in the top of the third to make it a 3-1 Bulldog advantage. Taylor Gadbois started the inning with a single, moved to second on a groundout and scored on a single up the middle from Angela Randazzo.

The Bulldogs scored twice in the bottom of the third to go ahead 5-1. Lenahan led off with a single and was replaced at first by pinch runner Ashley Phillips. Foulks followed with a double to right that moved Phillips to third. A second infield single from Seitz plated Phillips to make it a 4-1 lead. A sacrifice bunt from Echols moved Foulks to third and Seitz to second for Silkwood, who walked. Ball four was wild, allowing Foulks to score for the four-run lead. A groundout and soft lineout ended the threat.

In the top of the fourth, the Tigers added one run to make it a 5-2 contest. With one out, Kelli Schkade tripled to right center. After a strikeout, Ashtin Stephens reached on an error that allowed Schkade to score.

Mississippi State put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth with four runs for a 9-2 advantage. Offutt was hit by a pitch, senior Heidi Shape walked and Lenahan walked to load the bases with no outs. Foulks shot a ball through the left side that plated Offutt and Shape to make it a 7-2 MSU advantage. Seitz grounded out to second, but Lenahan came home on the play for a six-run advantage. Echols accounted for the final run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to left center that allowed Foulks to come home. A groundout ended the inning.

Missouri got one run back in the top of the seventh, but could not even the score for the 9-3 final. With one out, Sami Fagan singled up the middle and Randazzo followed with a single to left. Owen got another whiff, but a single to left center by Corrin Genovese drove in Fagan. A groundout back to Owen ended the contest.

In game two, the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. With one out, Schkade walked and Mackenzie Sykes doubled off the wall in center field to move Schkade to third. Kirsten Mack hit a hard ground ball back to Silkwood and Schkade got caught in a rundown that resulted in her being tagged out at home. A single through the right side by Stephens drove in two. Stephens was caught stealing to end the inning.

Missouri added four runs in the top of the third to go ahead 6-0. With one out, Fagan bounced a single into right field and moved to second on a wild pitch. Randazzo walked to put runners on first and second. Sherrod entered for Silkwood and Natalie Fleming reached on a fielder’s choice as her ground ball was not fielded cleanly, loading the bases with one out. A Genovese single to right center drove in two for the four-run advantage. Punches came in and a fielder’s choice resulted in Fleming being thrown out at the plate. With two outs, Sykes walked to reload the bases and Mack drew another free pass to force in a run. Another fielder’s choice ground ball that was not fielded cleanly allowed the final run to score. A lineout ended the frame.

The Bulldogs answered with one in the bottom of the third to make it a 6-1 deficit. With one out, Phillips tripled to right field. Offutt followed with an infield single to put runners on the corners. Shape fouled out, but Offutt moved to second on the play. Lenahan beat out an infield single that plated Phillips. A walk to Foulks filled the bases, but a great defensive play from Fagan ended the frame as she stopped a Seitz grounder up the middle and stepped on second for the force.

Missouri used a two-out rally in the fourth to score and make it a 7-1 advantage. With two outs, Fleming doubled off the wall in left center and scored on a Genovese single to left.

MSU loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with an Offutt one-out single, Lenahan two-out single and Foulks walk, but a fly out ended the threat.

Finucane worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth and Missouri added a run in the top of the seventh with a two-out solo home run from Schkade to make it an 8-1 Tiger lead.

Finucane surrendered consecutive one-out singles to Shape and Lenahan in the seventh, but a foul out and fly out ended the contest.

Mississippi State returns to action Wednesday at No. 11 South Alabama. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT.

Post-Game Notes
-         Mississippi State is 21-2 (.913 winning percentage) when scoring three or more runs this season.

-         The Bulldogs scored nine runs in the first game. MSU had totaled 15 runs in 10 Southeastern Conference contests entering Saturday.

-         Mississippi State threw out Ashtin Stephens on an attempted steal of second base in the second inning. MSU has thrown out 12 runners this season as foes have been successful just nine of 21 times (42.9 percent success rate).

-         MSU has thrown out seven of the last 10 would-be base stealers.

-         Senior Sam Lenahan hit a home run in game one to give her 28 in her career, moving her into sole possession of fourth on the MSU career chart. Kellie Wilkerson is the MSU career leader with 44 home runs.

-         Lenahan has hit .469 (15-for-32) in the last 11 games with a .585 on-base percentage, .844 slugging percentage and a team-high 14 runs batted in.

-         Senior Logan Foulks tallied her fourth multiple-hit game in her last 10 contests played.

-         During the last 10 games, Foulks is hitting .409 (nine-for-22).

-         Junior Ashley Phillips hit her first triple since her freshman year during the third inning of game two.

-         Senior Alison Owen has struck out 38 batters in her last 20.0 innings pitched.


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