STARKVILLE, Miss. – For the final time in 2014, Mississippi State will play home games, hosting Arkansas for the next-to-last Southeastern Conference series of the season this weekend. First pitch Friday is set for 5 p.m. CT while the Saturday and Sunday contests begin at noon.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Bulldogs will honor the team’s seven seniors: Logan Foulks, Sam Lenahan, Jessica Offutt, Alison Owen, Heidi Shape, Shana Sherrod and Rachael Zdeb. MSU will also recognize team manager J Bailey. Owen enters the three-game series needing just one strikeout to tie Stephanie Becker (2010-13/451) for the all-time Mississippi State whiff record.
MSU received votes in this week’s USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and USA Softball/ESPN.com polls. The Bulldogs gained 31 votes in the NFCA rankings to check in No. 26 and eight to stand at No. 27 in the ESPN.com ledger. It is the fifth week this season Mississippi State has picked up votes in the NFCA and ESPN.com polls.
Heading into this weekend, MSU is 35-15, tied with the 2008 team for the best 50-game record in program history. The Bulldogs had not had more than 33 regular-season wins since collecting 40 in 2008.
Against Arkansas, Mississippi State holds a 31-24 advantage in the all-time series, but the squads have not met since the 2012 campaign. MSU has won five of the last six meetings, including a series sweep in Starkville during the 2011 campaign. Overall in Starkville, the Bulldogs hold a 17-9 advantage in the series.
In the last series between the two, Mississippi State took two of three in Fayetteville on April 6-7, 2012. In game one, MSU trailed 1-0 going to the top of the sixth inning, but scored twice in the frame and won 2-1. An error allowed Offutt to score the game-tying run and a Jessica Cooley groundout plated the winning run in the sixth. Stephanie Becker limited the Razorbacks to three hits in the complete-game victory. In the second contest, Kylie Vry held Arkansas to three hits and struck out 11 as the Bulldogs won 7-2. Ka’ili Smith scored three runs and tallied two hits while Brittany Bell also picked up two hits. Arkansas won the finale 13-2, aided by six runs in the bottom of the fifth. Clarisa Navarro, Amanda Geile and Jayme Gee combined for seven runs batted in, six scored and eight hits to lead the Razorback offense.
After this weekend’s three-game set, the Bulldogs play their final regular-season games of the year at LSU from May 2-4.