ATHENS, Ga. – A leadoff home run from Alex Hugo in the bottom of the fifth inning was enough for No. 15/17 Georgia to top Mississippi State 1-0 in the opener of the three-game series on Friday night at Jack Turner Stadium. MSU put the tying run on second base in the top of the seventh inning but could not even the score. Georgia improves to 23-2 and 1-0 in Southeastern Conference action while MSU dips to 21-6, 1-3 in the SEC.
Freshman Mackenzie Toler led the Mississippi State offense with a caree-high-tying two hits.
Senior Alison Owen (10-5) suffered the tough-luck loss for MSU, allowing five hits and one run while fanning five. She hit one and threw one wild pitch. Georgia’s Chelsea Wilkinson (13-2) went the distance, yielding just three hits and one walk. She struck out 14, the most whiffs by Mississippi State this season.
In the first inning, each team had a one-out base runner as MSU junior Julia Echols drew a walk and Georgia’s Paige Wilson singled to right field. Wilkinson struck out the next two Mississippi State batters and Owen got out of trouble with an inning-ending double play.
Neither team had another threat until the top of the third, when Mississippi State tallied its first hit. After a strikeout, senior Jessica Offutt singled to right field. Following the frame’s second strikeout, Echols reached on a Wilkinson fielding error. A third whiff ended the threat.
Both squads went quietly until the top of the fifth when MSU put its leadoff batter on but could not score. Toler led off with a single up the middle over Wilkinson’s head. Sophomore Loryn Nichols entered to pinch run at first and, after a strikeout, stole second base. A fly out advanced Nichols to third, but a foul out to deep left field left Nichols on third.
After the defensive hold, Georgia’s Hugo hit the second pitch of the bottom of the fifth over the wall and just inside the left-field foul pole to put UGA ahead 1-0. Kaylee Puailoa followed with a single to center and moved to second on a wild pitch. Niaja Griffin entered to pinch run. After a strikeout, Griffin moved to third on a fly out to center field. Owen avoided further damage with a strikeout.
Georgia had one more scoring chance in the bottom of the sixth but was held off the board. Samantha LaZear led off with an infield single and, after a foul out, Wilson was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one down. Owen recovered with a lineout and pop out to strand the pair.
Wilkinson retired the first two MSU batters in the seventh before Toler doubled to left center. Wilkinson bounced back with a strikeout to end the contest.
The two teams continue the series with a 1 p.m. CT contest Saturday.
- Mississippi State turned a double play for the third-straight game. The Bulldogs had two during the season entering the week.
- MSU threw out its sixth runner of the campaign, gunning down Samantha LaZear in the bottom of the third inning.
- Opponents have been successful in just 50.0 percent of steal attempts this season (six-of-12).
- Freshman Katie Anne Bailey earned the second start of her collegiate career and first in right field.
- Senior Jessica Offutt went one-for-two in the game and is three-for-four in the last two contests.
- Freshman Mackenzie Toler tied her career high with two hits. Toler entered the game without a hit during a Southeastern Conference contest.
- Senior Alison Owen did not allow a hit in nine at-bats with a runner on base.