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Bulldogs Even Series With 18-7 Win

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Senior Sam Lenahan hit her first career grand slam Saturday against Arkansas during the Bulldogs' 18-7 victory.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. – In a slugfest for the record books, Mississippi State earned an 18-7 victory against Arkansas on Saturday at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Bulldogs surrendered six runs in the top of the second, but scored 10 in the bottom of the frame to record the win. Senior Sam Lenahan and freshman Mackenzie Toler each hit a grand slam to provide eight of the 18 runs.

With the win, MSU improves to 36-16 and is tied with the 2000 and 2008 squads for the best 52-game record in program history. The Bulldogs 36 regular-season wins are tied for the fourth most in a year in program history. Mississippi State is 8-12 in the Southeastern Conference, tying the league win total from last season with four SEC games still to be played.

Seniors Logan Foulks and Lenahan led the offense, combining for five hits, eight runs batted in and three scored. Junior Julia Echols continued her hot streak with three hits, three runs and one RBI. She is six-for-eight with two runs batted in so far this series.

In the circle, sophomore Jacey Punches started and threw one inning. She surrendered five runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Senior Shana Sherrod recorded one out, yielding one run on two hits and a free pass. Senior Alison Owen finished the game with three-and-two-thirds innings pitched and earned the win to improve to 18-10. She limited the Razorbacks to one run on two hits and a walk. She fanned five and retired 11 of the 14 batters faced. Arkansas’ Kelly Young started and threw one inning, allowing six runs on six hits and a walk. Sydney Wright (4-7) did not record an out, but was charged with six runs on five hits and a free pass to take the loss. Kimmy Beasley threw two innings, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Kelsey Berlin ended the contest with one-and-a-third innings, surrendering four runs on three hits and a walk. She fanned one.

Mississippi State took an early lead, scoring four times in the bottom of the first inning to go up 4-0. With one out, senior Heidi Shape walked, freshman Caroline Seitz singled and Lenahan singled to load the bases. A single to center from Echols plated Shape for a 1-0 advantage. Foulks followed with a bases-clearing double to left center to make it a 4-0 lead. A lineout and pop out ended the threat.

Arkansas (27-23, 5-15 SEC) responded with six runs in the top of the second to go ahead 6-4. Amanda Geile led off with a walk, Kasey Fagan singled and Geile scored on a Jayme Gee single. Claire Clark walked to fill the bases and Parker Pocklington singled to right center to drive in Fagan and Gee to make it a 4-3 lead for the Bulldogs. Sherrod entered for Punches and retired Chloe Oprzedek on a groundout, but an illegal pitch allowed Clark to score and tie the game. After a walk to Devon Wallace, Stephanie Canfield doubled down the right-field line to drive in Pocklington and put the Razorbacks ahead 5-4. Clarisa Navarro then singled to right to plate Wallace and make it a 6-4 Arkansas advantage. Owen entered for Sherrod and recorded a strikeout and foul out to close the inning.

The Bulldogs countered with a season-high 10 runs in the bottom of the frame to go ahead 14-6. With the bases loaded and no outs, Seitz singled through the left side to plate sophomore Loryn Nichols and make it a 6-5 Razorback edge. Lenahan then cleared the bases with a grand slam to put MSU up 9-6. Echols followed with a double to right center and scored on a Foulks single through the left side that made it a 10-6 Bulldog advantage. Singles from sophomore Kayla Winkfield and senior Jessica Offutt each drove in a run to put MSU up 12-6. The final two runs came home on a bases-loaded walk to Shape and a Seitz fielder’s choice.

Both teams were retired in order in the third inning. Arkansas got a run back in the top of the fourth with a solo home run from Wallace that made it a 14-7 Bulldog lead.

Mississippi State got the last four runs of the contest in the bottom of the fifth for the 18-7 final due to the eight-run rule. Lenahan led off with a walk and was replaced at first by redshirt freshman pinch runner Olivia Golden. Echols singled to move Golden to second. Foulks dropped down a bunt for a single as no Razorback was covering first base. After a fly out, pinch hitter Toler ended the contest with a grand slam that drove in all four runs.

The teams decide the series Sunday with a noon CT contest.

Post-Game Notes

  • MSU scored a run in the first inning and improves to 12-2 (.857 winning percentage) when scoring in the opening frame.
  • The Bulldogs are also 29-4 (.879 winning percentage) when scoring first.
  • MSU is the third Southeastern Conference team this season to hit two grand slams in the same game, joining Georgia and Texas A&M. 
  • Mississippi State scored four runs in the first inning, 10 in the second and four in the fifth. They are the third, fourth and fifth frames of the campaign against a Southeastern Conference team in which the Bulldogs have plated four or more runs.
  • The 10-run outburst in the second is the highest-scoring inning the Bulldogs have had this year.
  • The Bulldogs’ 18 runs are the most in an SEC contest in program history. MSU had scored 14 against Ole Miss on April 9, 2003, for the previous high.
  • The 18 runs are the most for any SEC club in a league game this season. 
  • Mississippi State had five players score two or more runs in the contest and six with two or more hits.
  • Every Bulldog starter but one who recorded an at-bat had a hit. The one starter without a hit was senior Heidi Shape, who drew three walks.
  • Seven of MSU’s nine starters in the contest tallied at least one run batted in.
  • Mississippi State was hit by one pitch, increasing its total to seven in the last four games. This year's MSU squad already owns the program record with 65 HBP this year.
  • Sophomore Jacey Punches started her first SEC game since March 15 at Georgia.
  • Punches’ two strikeouts in the first frame were one more whiff than she had tallied in all other SEC appearances combined.
  • Shape reached base in the first inning with a walk. She has safely reached base in 15-straight games, the longest streak on the team this season.
  • For the second-straight game, Shape matched a career single-game high with three walks.
  • Senior Logan Foulks drove in four runs to set her single-game season high. She has plated seven runs in the last three games.
  • Senior Sam Lenahan and freshman Mackenzie Toler hit the first grand slams of their careers. They join Shape and freshman Katie Anne Bailey as the Bulldogs on the active roster with a grand slam.
  • Lenahan and Foulks are tied for the team lead with 14 RBI during SEC games.
  • Lenahan went two-for-three in the contest. During her eight career games against Arkansas, Lenahan is batting .435 (10-for-23) with six runs batted in.
  • Senior Jessica Offutt went nine-straight games without a run batted in, but has driven in seven in the last four contests.
  • Offutt leads the Bulldogs with a .353 batting average (18-for-51) during Southeastern Conference contests.
  • For the second-straight day, junior Julia Echols tied her career single-game high with three hits.
  • Echols also scored a personal-best three runs.

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