MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A key stolen base from junior Julia Echols and a critical fielding error by Memphis allowed Mississippi State to come away with a 2-1 victory at Memphis on Tuesday evening. With two outs in the top of the seventh and the score tied 1-1, Echols walked, stole second and scored on a fielding error by Tiger shortstop Brittany Vaughn to account for the game-winning run.
With the victory, Mississippi State improves to 22-8. The team is off to the third-best 30-game start by an MSU club, just one win behind the 2006 and 2000 squads’ program-best 23-7 mark.
In the circle, it was a total team effort for Mississippi State as four Bulldogs pitched. Sophomore Jacey Punches tossed the first two innings and yielded a run on two hits and a walk. She fanned three. Senior Shana Sherrod entered for the third inning and retired the Tigers in order. Freshman Alexis Silkwood threw two-and-a-third innings, allowing just a double. Senior Alison Owen earned the win to improve to 11-6 as she retired all five Memphis batters she faced. Memphis’ Christian Novak started and went three-and-a-third innings, giving up a run on three hits and a trio of walks. She fanned four. Ellen Roberts (7-6) took the loss after pitching three-and-two-thirds innings, giving up an unearned run with two hits, two walks and three strikeouts.
After retiring the Bulldogs in order in the top of the first, Memphis (13-13) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame. Lindsay Crowdus led off with a double and, after a foul out and strikeout, scored on a single to right from Calli Irvin. After a walk, Punches ended the inning with a strikeout looking.
MSU mounted its first scoring threat in the top of the third but could not convert. Senior Sam Lenahan led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Kayla Winkfield, but a strikeout and pop out stranded Lenahan at second.
Sherrod entered in the bottom of the third and retired the Tigers in order. Following the quick inning, Mississippi State tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth. Freshman Caroline Seitz led off with her Southeastern Conference-leading 12th double of the year. After a foul out, senior Logan Foulks walked to put runners on first and second. Freshman Katie Anne Bailey doubled to center to plate Seitz and move Foulks to third. A walk to senior Heidi Shape loaded the bases, but consecutive strikeouts ended the threat.
Mississippi State had a chance to take the lead in the fifth inning, but stranded two runners. After a pop out started the frame, Echols walked and Seitz singled through the right side. A passed ball moved the pair to second and third, but a strikeout and pop out left them there.
In the bottom of the sixth, Memphis had an opportunity to go ahead, but Owen entered and shut the door. With one out, Vaughn doubled to center field to snap a string of 12-straight Tigers retired. Owen entered for Silkwood and recorded a pop out and strikeout to close the inning.
The Bulldogs scored the winning run in the top of the seventh for the 2-1 victory. Winkfield started the inning with a single, but a double play on a line drive erased her. Echols walked on four pitches, swiped second and scored on the Vaughn error on a ball hit up the middle by Seitz.
Owen sent down all three Tiger hitters in the seventh to earn the victory.
Mississippi State plays the final three of nine-straight road games this weekend at Auburn. The series begins Friday with a 6 p.m. CT first pitch while Saturday’s and Sunday’s games both begin at 1 p.m.
- Mississippi State improves to 5-0 all time versus Memphis.
- The Bulldogs picked up their 21st non-conference win of the season, just four fewer than the entire 2013 campaign.
- MSU pushed across one run with two outs, increasing its season total to 57 two-out runs (44.5 percent of team total).
- Since the Feb. 28 game began against No. 12 Baylor, the Bulldogs have played eight one-run contests. MSU is 5-3 in such games.
- Freshman Caroline Seitz picked up her team-leading 10th multiple-hit game of the season.
- Junior Julia Echols scored her fourth game-winning run of the season, tied for the most on the team.
- Echols' seventh-inning stolen base was her third swipe of the month.
- Freshman Katie Anne Bailey is six-for-16 (.375 batting average) in her last seven games played.
- Bailey has driven in seven runs in her last five contests.
- Freshman Alexis Silkwood struck out one batter to give her 69 whiffs this season, the fifth most by a freshman in program history.