"I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this if it wasn't for the animal defense behind me and our team's pitch-by-pitch mentality," Owen excitedly told a room full of reporters Monday afternoon. "I also want to personally thank my two catchers this weekend, Sam Lenahan and Logan Foulks. They did a phenomenal job behind the plate."
Owen was named to the Blues City Classic All-Tournament Team Sunday night after going 2-0 on the weekend. The righty pitched two complete-game shutouts at the Southaven, Miss., tournament, striking out 31 batters and issuing her first walk of the season in 40.1 innings pitched. Opponents squeezed out three hits and failed to score a run against the Bulldogs' ace, hitting a minuscule .067.
The right-hander began her weekend in style, breaking the single-game school record with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game, two-hit blanking of Wichita State. The performance came six days after Owen tied the previous mark of 14, which was set twice back in 1998.
One day later, Owen returned to the circle and broke her own school record with a 16-strikeout performance against SIU-Edwardsville. The Newnan, Ga., native fanned the entire Cougars' lineup consecutively to start the game, becoming the first pitcher in school history to record nine-straight strikeouts. The career-high 16 K's marked the most by a SEC pitcher in a seven-inning game this season.
On the season, the junior is 5-1 and leads the SEC in opponent batting average (.076), strikeouts per seven innings (11.4) and fewest walks allowed (1). Additionally, she is third in the league in ERA (0.52) and ranks fourth in strikeouts (65). Her last three starts have all been complete-game shutouts, including two one-hitters as well as a two-hitter.
"We knew when she said yes to Mississippi State, it was a big yes for our program," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "With the help of our whole staff, she can make a huge impact. She is good now, but she can be even better."
After not having an SEC Pitcher of the Week from April 2006 to the end of the 2011 season, the Bulldogs have had two hurlers earn the weekly accolade under Stuedeman since the dugout general arrived in Starkville prior to the 2012 season. Owen's award marks the 21st time in Stuedeman's career that the skipper has coached an SEC Pitcher of the Week.
Stuedeman's pitchers have been one of the main reasons for MSU's early success this year (9-4). The staff leads the SEC in strikeouts (143) and opponent batting average (.159), while ranking second in fewest hits allowed (51). The Bulldogs are on pace for 605 strikeouts in the regular season, which would shatter the school record set last season of 358. Opponents are hitting just .159 off Starkville's Team, which would also destroy the MSU all-time mark of .216. State's record of 6.7 strikeouts per seven innings set by Stuedeman's staff last season would be obliterated by this year's 11.3 mark, while the 1.82 staff ERA is currently the lowest in 15 years.
Missouri's Chelsea Thomas joined Owen as SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week after striking out 19 batters in a 4-3 extra-inning win against No. 5 Florida.
Bulldog fans in the Sunshine State can watch their reigning SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week March 1-3, as Stuedeman's squad travels to Orlando, Fla., to take part in the Citrus Classic. The Bulldogs will play Hofstra, Maryland, LIU-Brooklyn, Fordham and Syracuse in a 48-hour period at the internationally-known ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Saturday's game vs. LIU-Brooklyn will air on ESPN3.
For live in-game updates of MSU's games in the Magic Kingdom, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures from the Classic, 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.
State's 2013 SEC Weekly Honors
Feb. 25, 2013 - Alison Owen, Co-SEC Pitcher of the Week
State's SEC Softball Pitchers of the Week
Feb. 25, 2013 - Alison Owen
April 23, 2012 - Stephanie Becker
March 7, 2006 - Stephanie Comeaux
May 11, 2004 - Kelli Miller
Feb. 24, 2003 - Melissa Massey
Feb. 12, 2002 - Kasey Whitehead
April 2, 2001 - Jennifer Pursell
April 6, 1999 - Autumn Anderson
April 29, 1997 - Alicia Judd