No. 15/16 South Alabama Holds On, Downs MSU 3-2

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Sophomore Loryn Nichols reached base all three times and scored MSU's first run Wednesday at No. 15/16 South Alabama.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

MOBILE, Ala. – Mississippi State scored once in the top of the seventh inning and moved the game-tying run to third base, but could not force a tie as No. 15/16 South Alabama claimed a 3-2 victory Wednesday at Jaguar Field. A two-run home run from USA’s Amanda Herron highlighted a three-run second inning for the Jaguars, who held on for the win.

Mississippi State (30-13) was led on offense by sophomore Loryn Nichols, who reached base all three times and scored the team’s first run. Senior Jessica Offutt also chipped in with a two-for-three performance.

Senior Alison Owen (15-8) took the loss for MSU, allowing three runs on four hits in two innings. She struck out two. Freshman Alexis Silkwood tossed the final four frames, giving up just one hit and a walk while fanning four. Farish Beard (17-3) tossed the first four innings and yielded two hits, two walks and two hit batters while striking out three. Hannah Campbell finished the contest and recorded her fourth save of the campaign. She surrendered three hits and two runs, one earned.

Both teams had a base runner in the first inning as senior Heidi Shape was hit by a pitch with one out for MSU and Stephanie Pilkington delivered a leadoff single up the middle for USA. A foul out and caught stealing ended the Bulldog first while a fly out, foul out and strikeout stranded Pilkington.

The Bulldogs stranded a runner again in the top of the second as freshman Caroline Seitz was hit by a pitch with one out and, after a pop out, moved to second on a wild pitch. A strikeout ended the threat.

In the bottom of the second, the Jaguars took a 3-0 lead. With one out, Alex Breeden doubled to left center and was replaced by pinch runner Alyssa Linn. Herron followed with a home run to left for the two-run advantage. Taylor Rodgers was hit by a pitch and, after a strikeout, moved to second on a wild pitch. Pilkington tallied her second single of the contest and drove in Rodgers. Owen closed the frame with a pop out.

Mississippi State loaded the bases in the top of the third, but could not convert. With one out, Nichols walked and Offutt singled to put runners on first and second. Following a pop out, senior Sam Lenahan walked to fill the bases with two down.  A groundout left the trio on base.

South Alabama (31-6) had a chance to add to its lead in the bottom of the fourth, but could not convert. Herron led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Gwen Jones at first base. Jones moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, but a groundout and strikeout ended the threat.

In the top of the fifth, MSU got on the board to make it a 3-1 deficit. Nichols led off being hit by a pitch. Offutt dropped down a bunt and catcher Breeden’s throw was wide and went into right field, allowing Nichols to score and get Offutt to third. Campbell settled in and retired the next three Bulldogs in order to close the frame.

Mississippi State loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh and scored once, but could not even the contest. Sophomore Kayla Winkfield led off with a single and Nichols followed with a single to center that put runners on first and second with no outs. Offutt bunted for a single that filled the bases. A Shape sacrifice fly to right brought in Winkfield, but Campbell ended the game with a groundout and fly out.

MSU returns to the diamond Friday to open Super Bulldog Weekend against No. 3/2 Alabama. First pitch Friday is set for 5 p.m. CT while Saturday will be at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Post-Game Notes
-         Mississippi State has suffered 13 losses this season, four by one run.

-         Senior Heidi Shape was hit by a pitch in the first inning to give her 15, the second most in a year in program history. Briana Bell owns the mark with 22 HBP in 2012.

-         With her seventh-inning single, sophomore Kayla Winkfield is batting .324 (11-for-34) in the last 11 games with six runs scored, six stolen bases and five runs batted in.

-         Senior Jessica Offutt is hitting .714 (five-for-seven) in the last two games and .600 (six-for-10) in the last three contests.

-         Sophomore Loryn Nichols has drawn eight walks this season, just one shy of her total from the 2013 campaign.

-         Senior Alison Owen has struck out 40 batters in her last 22.0 innings pitched.

-         Owen increased her career strikeout total to 430. She is just 21 whiffs behind Stephanie Becker (2010-13/451) for the all-time Mississippi State record.


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