Starkville, Miss. - Junior Alison Owen broke the school record for strikeouts in a season opener with nine, but it was not enough, as the Mississippi State softball team fell by a narrow 3-2 margin to South Alabama Thursday night at the MSU Softball Stadium.
"We battled hard all night," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We had a lot of quality at-bats, but it just didn't fall our way. South Alabama is a good team; they went to the postseason last year."
The 21st season of Bulldog softball featured a battle of 2012 NCAA Tournament teams led by tremendous efforts inside the circle. Farish Beard picked up the win for South Alabama with two earned runs given up in four innings of work, while Jaguars' ace Hannah Campbell earned the save with three shutout frames to close out the game. Owen struck out nine for MSU and walked none in a complete-game effort that marked her debut for the Maroon and White.
"I thought Alison threw very well," Stuedeman explained. "Even when South Alabama hit a home run, it was a well-placed pitch. We just have to tip our hat to the hitter because Alison did a great job."
Junior Sam Lenahan, who was named to the NFCA All-South Region First Team last year as a sophomore, picked up right where she left off Thursday. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native finished 1-for-2 with a walk and a two-run home run in the first inning. Senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-4), junior Heidi Shape (1-for-2) and sophomore Ashley Phillips (1-for-3) also collected hits for Starkville's Team.
Deadlocked in a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth inning, USA sophomore Blair Johnson hit her first career home on an 0-1 count to capture the winning run for the visitors from Mobile.
The Bulldogs return tomorrow for a 6:30 p.m. tilt with Troy. Before then, four games will take place as part of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic, beginning with a 10 a.m. first pitch between Georgia State and Troy. 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.