KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – With no hits through the first six innings, Mississippi State broke through with four hits and two runs in the top of the seventh inning to earn a 2-0 victory at No. 4/4 Tennessee on Friday night inside Lee Stadium. Senior Sam Lenahan hit a one-out two-run home run off the scoreboard in left center to give Vann Stuedeman her 100th victory as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
Mississippi State improves to 34-14 with the victory and 6-10 in the Southeastern Conference. The overall record is the best through 48 games in program history. The 34 wins are the most in the regular season for a Mississippi State club since tallying 40 in 2008.
The Bulldogs have won three-straight games against ranked teams for the first time since winning seven consecutive versus ranked foes from April 9 – May 13, 2004.
Freshman Alexis Silkwood (11-5) picked up the win in the complete-game performance. She struck out 11 batters, tied for the third most in a Southeastern Conference game in program history. Silkwood allowed just three singles and walked a trio. Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe (23-4) took the loss, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks. She also fanned eight in the complete-game performance.
Each team had a base runner in the first inning as MSU senior Heidi Shape drew a one-out walk and Tennessee’s Madison Shipman picked up a two-out free pass. Two pop outs retired the Bulldogs and a strikeout ended the Lady Vols’ first.
In the bottom of the second, Tennessee (35-7, 11-5 SEC) put two runners on but could not convert. Megan Geer led off with a single up the middle. After a foul out and pop out, Taylor Koenig was hit by a pitch to move Geer to second. Rainey Gaffin got ahead in the count 3-0, but Silkwood came all the way back for the inning-ending strikeout.
Mississippi State was retired in order in the second, third and fourth innings and tallied a leadoff base runner on in the top of the fifth, but could not convert. Lenahan led off with a walk and was replaced at first by redshirt freshman pinch runner Olivia Golden. A foul out on a bunt attempt and consecutive groundouts stranded Golden at second base.
The Lady Vols had a chance to break through in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out rally but couldn't score. Melissa Davin singled off the glove of leaping freshman third baseman Caroline Seitz’s glove and stole second. Shipman walked to put runners on first and second, but Silkwood avoided trouble with a strikeout.
MSU recorded its first hit and scored the game’s only runs in the top of the seventh. Seitz led off with a single through the left side and was replaced at first by freshman Amanda Ivy. After a pop out, Lenahan homered off the scoreboard in left center for the two-run advantage. Junior Julia Echols followed with a single down the left-field line. Junior pinch hitter Ashley Phillips delivered an infield single with two outs, but a fielder’s choice closed the frame.
Silkwood retired the Lady Vols in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the victory.
The teams return to action Saturday with a 1 p.m. CT contest.
- Mississippi State has six wins against top-25 opponents this season, the same number as the last two seasons combined.
- The Bulldogs threw their first Southeastern Conference shutout since blanking Ole Miss 8-0 on April 14, 2013.
- MSU recorded its 13th shutout of the year, the fourth most in a campaign in program history.
- Mississippi State’s pitching staff has tallied 360 strikeouts this year, the second most in a year in program history.
- The Bulldogs have outscored the competition 79-40 from the fifth inning on this season.
- Senior Sam Lenahan drove in two runs, lifting her into fifth on the MSU career RBI chart with 141.
- Lenahan has accounted for a team-best eight runs batted in.
- Of those eight game-winning RBI, six of them have come with a home run, including three in Southeastern Conference games (Auburn, Missouri and Tennessee).
- Lenahan leads the team with 10 RBI and three home runs in games against top-25 opponents.
- Entering the contest, Lenahan had two runs batted in during six career games versus Tennessee.
- Freshman Amanda Ivy has scored the game-winning run in the last two victories against top-25 opponents.
- Freshman Alexis Silkwood earned her third victory of the year versus a ranked opponent.
- Silkwood increased her strikeout total to 122, the 10th most in a year in program history and the third most by an MSU freshman.
- The shutout was the first of Silkwood’s career against a league foe.