STARKVILLE, Miss. – A high-scoring game went in favor of Arkansas on Friday at the MSU Softball Stadium as the Razorbacks earned a 6-4 victory. Two-run home runs from Jayme Gee and Amanda Geile helped Arkansas (26-22, 5-14 SEC) claim the win.
Despite the setback, senior pitcher Alison Owen established the Mississippi State career strikeout record with four whiffs. Her career total is 454, moving her ahead of Stephanie Becker (2010-13/451) for the program record. On offense, junior Julia Echols picked up a career-high-tying three hits and senior Jessica Offutt drove in two runs and tallied two hits.
Owen (17-10) tossed three-and-a-third innings and allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks. Freshman Alexis Silkwood entered for the remaining three-and-two-thirds, scattering two hits and striking out four. Arkansas’ Grace Moll started and threw three-and-two-thirds frames, yielding four runs on five hits and five walks. She fanned a pair and tossed a trio of wild pitches. Kelly Young (4-3) tossed the last three-and-a-third innings, limiting the Bulldogs to three hits and a walk to earn the win. She struck out two.
Arkansas took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning with a home run. Kasey Fagan led off with a single down the left-field line and Bulldog left fielder Offutt’s throw to the infield was high and allowed Fagan to move to second. After a groundout, Parker Pocklington struck out for Owen’s record-setting whiff. Gee delivered two-out, two-run home run to left for the early advantage. A fly out to right ended the frame.
The Bulldogs (35-16, 7-12 SEC) had their first hits in the bottom of the second inning and took a 3-2 advantage. Senior Sam Lenahan and Echols led off with consecutive singles and freshman Mackenzie Toler turned a 13-pitch at-bat into a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice resulted in Lenahan being forced out at the plate, but a wild pitch brought in Echols to make it a 2-1 deficit. After a strikeout, Offutt came through with a single to right that plated both runners for the one-run lead. Senior Heidi Shape followed with a walk, but a groundout closed the inning.
In the top of the third the Razorbacks answered with three runs to go ahead 5-3. With one out, Stephanie Canfield doubled to left center and Clarisa Navarro followed with a double down the left-field line. Geile then hit a two-run homer to left for the two-run cushion. A pop out and whiff ended the top of the third.
MSU responded in the bottom of the inning with a run to make it a 5-4 deficit. With one out, Lenahan walked and scored on an Echols double to center. A strikeout and groundout left Echols stranded.
Arkansas got the run back in the top of the fourth for a 6-4 advantage. Pocklington led off being hit by a pitch. Gee followed with a single to left and Pocklington stole third before a strikeout. Devon Wallace walked to load the bases and Canfield singled to right center to drive in Pocklington. Silkwood entered for Owen and a fielder’s choice force out at home and strikeout left the bases loaded.
In the bottom of the fourth, Mississippi State had a runner thrown out at home and stranded two, but Arkansas also left a pair on base in the top of the fifth.
Both teams went quietly until the bottom of the sixth, when the Bulldogs brought the tying run to the plate but failed to score. Offutt hit a one-out double to right center and went to third on a two-out single through the left side by freshman Caroline Seitz. A fielder’s choice ended the threat.
Young retired the Bulldogs in order in the seventh to seal the victory.
The teams resume the series Saturday with a noon CT contest.
- Despite the loss, Mississippi State’s 35-16 record is tied with the 2000 and 2008 squads for the best 51-game mark in program history.
- The Bulldogs tallied nine+ hits and have accumulated nine or more in four of the last six games.
- Senior Alison Owen’s single-season strikeout total is 204, good for the third most in a year in program history.
- There have been three seasons in program history with an MSU pitcher recording 200 or more strikeouts and Owen owns two of them (2014 and 250 in 2013). Autumn Anderson (1998/246) is the only other Bulldog hurler with more than 200 whiffs in a campaign.
- Senior Jessica Offutt went nine-straight games without a run batted in, but has driven in six in the last three contests.
- Offutt leads the Bulldogs with a .333 batting average (16-for-48) during Southeastern Conference contests.
- Offutt’s six SEC runs batted in are good for the fourth most on the squad.
- Senior Heidi Shape reached base in the first inning with a walk. She has safely reached base in 14-straight games, the longest streak on the team this season.
- Shape finished the contest with a career-high-tying three walks.
- Senior Sam Lenahan went one-for-three in the contest. During her seven games against Arkansas, Lenahan is batting .400 (eight-for-20) with two runs batted in.
- Junior Julia Echols tied her career single-game high with three hits. It is a personal best for a league game.
- Echols has recorded hits in five of the last six games.
- Freshman Alexis Silkwood increased her strikeout total to 130, the 10th most in a year in program history and the third most by an MSU freshman.
- Silkwood retired 11 of the 13 Arkansas batters she faced.