STARKVILLE, Miss. – The first career hit from freshman Alexis Silkwood, a personal-best two runs batted in from sophomore Kayla Winkfield and another strong outing in the pitching circle from senior Alison Owen lifted Mississippi State to a three-game weekend sweep of Marshall with a 9-1 five-inning Sunday victory at the MSU Softball Field.
Silkwood made her first career start as the designated player and recorded her second career at-bat in the opening inning, delivering a bases-loaded two-run single. Owen struck out seven, increasing her career total to 411, good for the second most in Mississippi State history. In just two years with the program, Owen trails only Stephanie Becker (2010-13/449) on the Bulldog career whiff chart.
Mississippi State improved to 28-10 with the win. The mark is tied for the second-best 38-game record in program history, just one game behind the 2006 squad’s 29-9 mark.
Owen (13-7) went all five innings, scattering two hits, three walks and two hit batters with the one run. Jordan Dixon (7-15) started and recorded just one out, allowing four runs on two hits and two walks. She struck out one and hit another. Lindsey Fadnek relieved and threw three-and-two-thirds, yielding five runs, two earned, on five hits and a trio of walks. She struck out two and hit another.
Marshall (10-23) had a scoring threat in the top of the first but could not convert. Owen walked Kaelynn Greene to start the game. Morgan Zerkle put down a bunt, but Greene was thrown out at second on the play. Zerkle stole second before Owen ended the threat with a fly out and strikeout.
In the bottom of the frame, MSU capitalized on its base runners and took a 4-0 lead. After a strikeout, senior Heidi Shape drew a walk and freshman Caroline Seitz singled to right. The pair executed a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out for senior Logan Foulks, who was hit by a pitch to fill the bases. Silkwood drove in two with a single to right. Junior Ashley Phillips walked to reload the bases. Fadnek entered, and after a strikeout, Winkfield dropped a single over the head of Marshall shortstop Zerkle. Foulks and Silkwood scored on the play for a four-run cushion. A fielder’s choice closed the frame.
The Thundering Herd got a run back in the top of the second to make it a 4-1 deficit. Raquel Escareno started the frame with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Jessica Watts. Katalin Lucas followed with another free pass. Following a strikeout, Emileigh Cooper singled to center to drive in Watts. Owen shut down the rally with another whiff and a pickoff.
Neither team threatened again until the top of the fourth, when Marshall mounted a two-out rally. Shaelynn Braxton was hit by a pitch to open the frame. After two strikeouts, Alyssa Cook was also plunked. Owen again shut down the scoring threat with the third whiff of the inning.
MSU put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth with five runs to go ahead 9-1. Senior Rachael Zdeb led off with her first hit of the year, a double to left field. Winkfield followed with an infield single that kept Zdeb on second base. Senior Jessica Offutt followed with a bunt that Fadnek could not field cleanly, loading the bases for senior Sam Lenahan. Lenahan singled up the middle to drive in Zdeb and Winkfield for a 6-1 advantage. After a groundout, Seitz was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Foulks hit a sacrifice fly to left center that plated Offutt for a 7-1 advantage. Silkwood walked to reload the bases and Phillips followed with a two-run single to right center that drove in two. Zdeb came back up and was hit by a pitch to fill the bases again, but a groundout ended the frame.
Owen allowed a leadoff single to Kristina Braxton in the top of the fifth, but ended the game with a fielder’s choice, foul out and fly out.
Mississippi State returns to action Tuesday with a 6 p.m. CT contest at Mississippi Valley State.
- MSU earned its 26th non-league win of the season, the most by the Bulldogs in since tallying 28 in 2008.
- Mississippi State has stolen 19 bases in the last five contests. In the previous 10 games, the Bulldogs had swiped five bases.
- Mississippi State is 19-2 (.905 winning percentage) when scoring three or more runs this season.
- Mississippi State pushed across four runs with two outs, increasing its season total to 66 two-out runs (40.2 percent of team total).
- The game is the second of the campaign in which Mississippi State has scored four or more runs in two innings. The other was at Georgia State on March 12.
- MSU has won six-straight games. It is the team’s longest winning streak since the season-opening 15-game victory string.
- Senior Sam Lenahan has hit .417 (10-for-24) in the last nine games with a .563 on-base percentage, .750 slugging percentage and a team-high nine runs batted in.
- Sophomore Kayla Winkfield is batting a team-best .400 (six-for-15) in her last six contests.
- Winkfield tied her career single-game high with two runs batted in and added a season-best two hits.
- Senior Rachael Zdeb made her first career start, getting the nod in right field.
- Freshman Alexis Silkwood made her first career start at designated player. She entered the day with one career at-bat.
- Silkwood tallied her first career hit, run scored and run batted in during the contest.