ORLANDO, Fla. - Going up against two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, the Mississippi State softball team captured two victories on the opening day of the 2013 D9 Citrus Classic Friday. The Bulldogs defeated Hofstra in game one by a score of 9-1 in six innings, before holding on for a 4-3 triumph against Maryland in game two.
With the first-day sweep at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Maroon and White improved to 11-4 on the season, the best start for the Bulldogs through 15 games since the 2009 squad also began 11-4.
GAME ONE RECAP
Going up against a Hofstra squad that was a swing away from making it to the Women's College World Series a season ago, the Bulldogs tied a season high with nine runs on an efficient 11 hits. The nine runs came despite the fact that the Pride started All-American Olivia Galati, who led the NCAA in 2012 with a 0.95 ERA.
Junior Alison Owen, the reigning SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week, picked up her fourth win in as many appearances. The right-hander improved to 6-1 overall after surrendering one run on three hits for her fourth-consecutive complete game as a starter. Owen struck out five and walked none, improving upon her NCAA-best 70-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. The run allowed in the fifth inning was the first run given up by the Newnan, Ga., native in her last 30.0 innings as a starter.
At the plate, shortstop Erin Nesbit made the most of her first start of her redshirt junior campaign, finishing 2-for-3 with a grand slam. The four-RBI bases clearer was her second career grand slam (April 7, 2010), making her the seventh player in school history with two career grand slams.
Fellow junior Sam Lenahan (2-for-4, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) and redshirt sophomore Briana Bell (2-for-3, 2 RBIs, one run) also went yard for the Bully Bombers. Bell's solo homer came directly after Nesbit's grand salami, making it the first time in 2013 MSU hit back-to-back jacks. The trio of round-trippers marked a season high for State, while also equaling its output from the previous six games.
Also having multiple-hit games at the dish were the junior duo of Heidi Shape (3-for-4, run) and Logan Foulks (2-for-4). Despite going 0-for-6 to start the inning at the plate, the Bulldogs still came one hit shy of tying the season high of 12 hits thanks in part to a .538 average with two outs (7-for-13).
Game Two Recap
Mississippi State jumped out to a 4-0 lead through the sixth frame and held on for a hard-fought 4-3 victory against Maryland. The SEC vs. ACC battle marked a matchup of two NCAA Tournament teams from last season.
Senior left-hander Stephanie Becker picked up the win in her seventh start of the season, moving to 2-0 all-time against the Terps (Feb. 27, 2010). The southpaw had a no-hitter going with four outs left in the game, until Maryland leadoff hitter Sara Acosta broke up the no-no bid with a bunt single. Overall, Becker yielded three runs off four hits in 6.1 innings of labor, striking out five and walking none. The southpaw now has 28 strikeouts and zero walks over her last three starts.
Lenahan continued where she left off in game one, ending game two with three RBIs off of a single, double and a walk. Shape (1-for-3, two runs), Foulks (1-for-3, run) and Bell (1-for-3, run) also collected base knocks. Senior first baseman Shelby Fisher rounded out the offense courtesy of a sacrifice-fly RBI.
At 9 a.m. CT on Saturday, the Bulldogs play their first-ever contest against LIU-Brooklyn (2-12). The game will be available live on ESPN3, giving Bulldog fans a chance to watch the contest on their computer, smartphones or tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members.
Following the ESPN3 game against LIU, MSU takes on Fordham (4-6) at 11:15 a.m. CT Saturday.
For live in-game updates of MSU's games in the Citrus Classic, 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.