GULFPORT, Miss. – A two-run home run by senior Logan Foulks and a two-run single from classmate Heidi Shape helped extend Mississippi State’s season-opening winning streak to 15 games Friday afternoon with a 6-0 victory against UTSA. In the circle, Bulldog freshman Alexis Silkwood pushed her scoreless-inning streak to 30.0 frames, good for the longest in program history.
MSU’s 15-0 start to the campaign is the second-best beginning in program history, trailing only the 2006 squad’s 16-0 mark. The 15-game winning streak is also tied for the second longest by a Mississippi State club.
Silkwood (4-0) threw six innings and allowed just two singles. She surpassed Autumn Anderson (29.0/May 8-10, 1998) for the most consecutive scoreless innings in program history. Silkwood fanned seven and hit one. MSU sophomore Jacey Punches entered for the seventh and retired all three batters she faced, two with strikeouts. UTSA’s Nicole Merill (2-4) took the loss, throwing four-and-a-third innings and allowing six runs on five hits. She fanned four, walked four and threw two wild pitches. Chelsea Parker entered for the remaining two-and-two-thirds frames, yielding three hits.
Each team had a base runner in the first inning and neither scored. Mississippi State threatened again in the top of the second and took a 1-0 lead. Senior Sam Lenahan led off with a walk and scored on a double to right center from freshman Caroline Seitz. Classmate Mackenzie Toler followed with another free pass before a wild pitch moved Seitz to third and Toler to second with no outs. Merill stranded the pair with a groundout and two strikeouts to end the threat.
The Roadrunners moved a runner to third base in the bottom of the inning, but could not convert. After a foul out started the frame, Victoria Birdwell struck out swinging, but the ball got past catcher Foulks and Birdwell was safe at first on the wild pitch. A groundout moved Birdwell to second and she stole third base, but Silkwood struck out Madison Kinley to close the inning.
Coming off the defensive hold, the Bulldogs made it a three-run cushion in the top of the third. With one out, junior Julia Echols singled up the middle and Foulks followed with a two-run home run.
Mississippi State added to its lead in the top of the fourth and took a 5-0 lead. After a fielder’s choice left junior Ashley Phillips on first base with one out, sophomore Kayla Winkfield put down a bunt single and Phillips motored to an uncovered third base to put runners on the corners. Sophomore Loryn Nichols dropped down a bunt and UTSA first baseman Megan Low failed to step on the bag, loading the bases with one out. Shape stroked a single to center that plated Phillips and Winkfield for a five-run advantage. A fielder’s choice and strikeout allowed Merill to avoid further damage.
In the top of the fifth, MSU added another run for a 6-0 lead. Lenahan led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Toler double to left field.
Silkwood set the record for consecutive scoreless frames by an MSU hurler in the bottom of the sixth. After Courtney Buchman led off with a single, a fly out to Echols in right extended Silkwood’s streak to 29.1 frames. A strikeout and Buchman caught stealing ended the frame.
In the bottom of the seventh, Punches entered for Silkwood and the Roadrunners were retired in order to seal the victory.
Mississippi State continues Friday action with an 8 p.m. CT game against No. 12/12 Baylor. The Bears are the first ranked team the Bulldogs will face in 2014.
- The Bulldogs’ eight shutouts through 15 games are the most in a year in program history. MSU threw 10 shutouts in all of 2013.
- The pitching staff has allowed just 39 hits in 15 games, good for an average of 2.6 hits a contest. Last season, Mississippi State allowed opponents to average 5.1 hits a game.
- MSU has yet to allow more than five hits to any opponent this year.
- Mississippi State’s seven runs allowed are the fewest through the first 15 games of a season in program history.
- Senior Sam Lenahan drew two walks to give her 113 in her career. She is now third on the program’s all-time chart. Kellie Wilkerson (1999-2002) owns the record with 177 career walks.
- Lenahan has scored a run in four-straight games.
- Sophomore Kayla Winkfield tallied a hit, giving her 10 for the season, matching her 2013 total.
- Freshman Mackenzie Toler recorded the first extra-base hit of her career with a double in the fifth inning.
- Freshman Alexis Silkwood has struck out 38 batters in her last 26.2 innings pitched, including two double-digit strikeout performances.
- Silkwood has not allowed a run since her debut against Northern Kentucky on Feb. 7 and has yielded just 10 hits in her last five appearances.
- Freshman Katie Anne Bailey entered as a pinch runner in the fourth inning and has been used in that role in four of the last five games.
- Junior Julia Echols went two-for-four to snap a two-for-13 skid.
- Freshman Amanda Ivy threw out her first runner stealing, gunning down Courtney Buchman trying to get to second in the sixth inning.
- Sophomore pitcher Jacey Punches recorded two strikeouts, bringing her season total to 25. In all of 2013, Punches tallied 23 whiffs.