STARKVILLE, Miss. – A four-run top of the fourth inning lifted No. 8 Kentucky to a 5-0 victory against Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon. Pinch hitter Krystal Smith had the big blow with a three-run home run in the fourth.
Despite the loss, MSU is tied for its best 24-game start in program history at 20-4. The Bulldogs fall to 1-2 in Southeastern Conference action.
Senior Alison Owen (9-4) suffered the loss, allowing seven hits and five runs while striking out 10 and walking one in six innings. She also hit two. Freshman Alexis Silkwood threw the final inning and struck out one and walked another. Kelsey Nunley (7-1) earned the win in the complete game for the Wildcats, scattering three hits and striking out three. She also hit one.
Mississippi State had the first runner in scoring position as senior Logan Foulks hit a one-out double in the bottom of the second inning. Nunley bounced back with a strikeout and groundout to strand Foulks.
The Bulldogs had another chance in the bottom of the third as senior Heidi Shape singled through the right side with two outs, but a groundout ended the threat.
Kentucky (18-3, 2-1 SEC) mounted its first threat in the top of the fourth and took a 4-0 lead. Ansley Smith was hit by a pitch to open the frame. Lauren Cumbess put down a bunt and Owen tried to throw to second for the force, but Smith was safe on the play. An Emily Gaines single filled the bases for the Wildcats. UK placed pinch runners Sarah Frazer on second and Dari Richardson on first. Nikki Sagermann singled through the right side to plate Smith. Frazer also tried to score but was thrown out at the plate by junior right fielder Julia Echols. Owen struck out Maisie Steed, but pinch hitter Krystal Smith delivered the three-run long ball. A fly out ended the inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Wildcats mounted another scoring opportunity. Griffin Joiner led off with a single off the glove of freshman third baseman Caroline Seitz, who threw high to first, allowing Joiner to move to second. After a foul out, Ansley Smith was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Cumbess struck out looking and Gaines popped out to Seitz to close the frame.
UK tacked on another run in the top of the sixth as Sagermann led off with a home run.
Nunley retired six of the last seven batters she faced as the only Bulldog to reach was senior Sam Lenahan with a hit by pitch with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Mississippi State returns to action Tuesday with a 4 p.m. CT contest at Kennesaw State.
- Mississippi State has not allowed a stolen base since the eighth inning against Baylor on Feb. 28, a span of eight games.
- MSU has been 1-2 after three Southeastern Conference games six times in the last seven years.
- After a zero-for-nine skid, senior Logan Foulks is two-for-five in the last two games.
- Senior Heidi Shape snapped a zero-for-19 slump with a single in the third inning.
- Junior right fielder Julia Echols registered her first assist of the year, throwing out pinch runner Sarah Frazer at home during the fourth inning.
- Senior Alison Owen registered her 14th game as a Bulldog, and sixth this season, with 10 or more strikeouts with the 10 whiffs.
- Owen has fanned 68 in her last 46.1 innings pitched.