MSU Downs No. 21/21 Auburn 5-2

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Senior Heidi Shape drove in Mississippi State's first run Sunday at No. 21/21 Auburn and finished one-for-one with two runs scored and an RBI.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

AUBURN, Ala. – A three-run home run from senior Sam Lenahan in the top of the fifth inning lifted Mississippi State to a 5-2 victory at No. 21/21 Auburn on Sunday. Lenahan accounted for MSU’s final four runs with the three-run home run and a bases-loaded walk in the sixth. She tied her career high with four RBI in the contest.

In addition to Lenahan, Mississippi State (23-10, 2-7 SEC) was led on offense by seniors Heidi Shape and Logan Foulks, who combined for three runs, three hits and one run batted in. Sophomore Kayla Winkfield also chipped in with a run, double and single.

The Bulldogs earned their second victory of the campaign over a top-25 foe as Mississippi State topped No. 8 Kentucky 2-1 on March 8. It is the program’s first true road win versus a ranked opponent since downing No. 14 Texas A&M 6-2 on May 4, 2013.

Freshman Alexis Silkwood (6-2) earned her first career Southeastern Conference victory, yielding only two runs, three hits and a walk while striking out six. Auburn’s Lexi Davis (14-5) suffered the setback, going the distance and allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits and a trio of walks. She fanned five.

After both teams were retired in order in the first inning, Mississippi State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Foulks led off with an infield single and freshman Mackenzie Toler dropped down a bunt. Auburn third baseman Kasey Cooper tried to throw to second for the force, but Foulks slid in safely to put runners on first and second with no outs. A fielder’s choice forced Toler out at second and put runners on the corners with one out for Shape, who delivered a sacrifice fly to right that plated Foulks for the one-run lead. A fly out ended the threat.

Auburn (28-5-1, 4-2 SEC) evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second as Branndi Melero led off with a home run to right center.

The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. After consecutive groundouts, Emily Carosone drew a walk and Morgan Estell dropped a single into shallow left to put runners on first and second. Cooper hit a ball up the middle that shortstop Winkfield dove and stopped, but Carosone was heading home from the start and slid in safely just under the tag of catcher Lenahan. A groundout closed the inning.

Mississippi State answered in the top of the fifth with a three-run home run from Lenahan to go ahead 4-2. Shape led off with a walk and moved to third on a double to right center from Winkfield. After a pop out, Lenahan sent an 0-2 pitch over the wall for the lead. Junior Julia Echols walked, but a strikeout and fly out ended the frame.

In the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out. Toler led off hitting the ball back to Davis, but the Auburn first baseman dropped the toss. Junior Ashley Phillips entered to run for Toler and moved to third on a one-out double to left from Shape. A Winkfield single loaded the bases with one out. A fielder’s choice forced out Phillips at the plate, but Lenahan walked to force in Shape for the three-run cushion. A strikeout allowed Davis to end the inning.

Auburn had a one-out base runner in the bottom of the sixth as Cooper reached on an error, but a strikeout and groundout left her stranded.

The Bulldogs had a chance to add to the lead in the top of the seventh, but did not convert. With one out, Foulks doubled and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Amanda Ivy. A groundout moved Ivy to third, but a pop out halted the threat.

Silkwood retired the Tigers in order in the seventh to complete the victory.

Mississippi State returns to the diamond for a pair of midweek games, hosting Southeastern Louisiana at 5 p.m. CT Tuesday and Samford at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Post-Game Notes
-         Mississippi State scored first in all three games of the series.

-         The Bulldogs trailed for just four of the 20 innings during the three-game set.

-         MSU has hit seven home runs in the last eight games. In the previous eight games, the Bulldogs recorded just three long balls.

-         Mississippi State pushed across one run with two outs, increasing its season total to 58 two-out runs (42.0 percent of team total).

-         The victory is MSU's sixth come-back win this season and second of the week as the team also trailed 1-0 after three innings at Memphis on Tuesday.

-         The Bulldogs’ five runs are the most in a Southeastern Conference contest this season.

-         Senior Logan Foulks hit a squad-high .556 (five-for-nine) in the last four games with three runs scored, a 1.111 slugging percentage and .692 on-base percentage.

-         Senior Sam Lenahan has hit .455 (five-for-11) in the last four games with a .571 on-base percentage and team-high four runs batted in.

-         Lenahan hit her first home run since recording one in three-straight contests from Feb. 19-22.

-         Lenahan tallied her fourth game of the season with three or more runs batted in.

-         The game-winning RBI for Lenahan was her team-leading sixth of the campaign.

-         Sophomore Kayla Winkfield’s double in the top of the fifth inning was the first extra-base hit of her career.

-         Winkfield matched her season single-game high with two hits.

-         Freshman Mackenzie Toler is hitting .300 (six-for-20) in the last seven games.

-         Junior Katie Gentle started her first career Southeastern Conference game.

-         Freshman Alexis Silkwood threw her first complete game in an SEC contest.


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