Big Offense Leads To Sweep Of Wallace State
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State made it five fall games and five fall victories on Saturday with a pair of wins against Wallace State. The Bulldogs took the opener 8-1 and the second contest 10-2 in five innings.
Senior pitcher Alison Owen allowed just a leadoff home run in the opener while senior outfielder Jessica Offutt went three-for-three and junior outfielder Ashley Phillips was one-for-two with two walks and three runs scored. In the second contest, senior Sam Lenahan hit a grand slam and classmate Heidi Shape added a two-run shot of her own as senior Shana Sherrod went the distance in the circle.
During game one, Owen retired 21 of the final 22 batters she faced, allowing only a hit by a pitch to open the third inning. She fanned 14 and has struck out 28 in two home fall games this year. Wallace State’s Kelsey King tossed six innings and allowed eight runs on 11 hits and three walks while fanning two.
In the second contest, Sherrod scattered five hits and a walk. She also fanned one. Wallace State’s Rachel Ragland threw the first three-and-a-third innings and allowed nine runs on seven hits and three walks. Amanda Medders entered for the final inning and gave up one run.
In the opener, Wallace State took a quick 1-0 lead as Madeline Lee led off the contest with a home run off the left-field foul pole.
Mississippi State answered to tie the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first with the help of a Wallace State error. With one out, Phillips doubled to center field and Lenahan followed with a single through the left side to put runners on the corners. After a fielder’s choice, an error by the Lady Lions’ first baseman allowed Phillips to score and tie the game.
The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third with more Phillips offense. She led off the frame with a walk, stole second base, moved to third when the catcher’s throw bounced into center and scored on a double to center from Lenahan.
In the bottom of the fourth, MSU broke the game open with six runs. Junior Julia Echols started the inning with a double to center field and Offutt followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Sophomore Kayla Winkfield laid down a bunt, but the third baseman’s throw went into right field, allowing Echols to score for a 3-1 advantage. Junior pinch hitter Erika Gaul followed with a RBI groundout as Offutt scored on the play for a three-run cushion. A squeeze bunt from Lenahan brought home Winkfield, who had stolen second and moved up on the Gaul groundout, to make it a 5-1 advantage. After a walk to freshman Mackenzie Toler, classmate Caroline Seitz ended the high-scoring frame with a three-run home run to center for the seven-run edge.
Owen retired the final nine hitters in order to seal the victory.
Game two had Wallace State go ahead 1-0 again in the top of the first. With one out, Kayla Johnson singled and moved to third on an error by the right fielder and came home on a Sherrod illegal pitch.
MSU immediately answered in the bottom of the frame and took a 3-1 lead. After a groundout from Offutt, Phillips tripled to the right-field corner and scored on a two-out Toler single to even the score. Shape put the Bulldogs ahead with a two-run home run to left center.
The Lady Lions responded in the top of the second and cut their deficit to 3-2. Brooke Kinsey led off with a double to right center and Sabrina Russell followed with a single to center to put runners on the corners and no outs. Sherrod limited the damage with a double play groundout that Kinsey scored on and another groundout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, MSU scored again to make it a 4-2 lead. Winkfield led off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on an Offutt groundout.
A combination of small ball and one big swing yielded five runs for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the fourth for a 9-2 advantage. Gaul started the frame with a soft single to center and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Katie Anne Bailey. Winkfield and sophomore Loryn Nichols followed with consecutive bunt singles to load the bases. Junior pinch hitter Katie Gentle walked to force in Bailey for the three-run cushion. After a pop out, Lenahan used one big swing for a grand slam and seven-run lead.
The Lady Lions tried to mount a rally in the top of the fifth as they had runners on first and second with one out, but Sherrod induced a strike out and fly out to end the threat.
MSU earned a run-rule victory in the bottom of the fifth for the 10-2 final. After a Gaul groundout started the frame, Winkfield singled, stole second and scored on a triple from senior pinch hitter Rachael Zdeb.
The Bulldogs finish the fall season Sunday with a 3 p.m. doubleheader against Itawamba Community College. Admission and parking are free for the event.
Fans can follow Bulldog softball on Twitter (@HailStateSB), Facebook (HailStateSB) and Instagram (HailStateSB). Mississippi State athletics can also be found on FanCred by going to http://www.fancred.com/go/hailstate/.