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MSU Takes Series With Senior Day Win

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Mississippi State honored its eight seniors Sunday.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. – A six-run fourth inning propelled Mississippi State to an 8-0 victory in six innings against Arkansas Sunday on Senior Day at the MSU Softball Stadium. Freshman Caroline Seitz picked up two hits as six Bulldogs scored runs and five drove in a run. Three pitchers combined to toss the squad’s 14th shutout of the campaign, tied for the third most in a year in program history.

With the victory, Mississippi State improves to 37-16, good for the best 53-game record in program history, one game ahead of the 2000 and 2008 squads. The Bulldogs also improve to 9-12 in the Southeastern Conference, good for the most league wins since tallying 12 in 2012.  MSU finished the season with a 20-7 record in home games.

By taking two-of-three games against Arkansas, two-of-three contests at No. 4/4 Tennessee last weekend and two-of-three games from No. 3/2 Alabama April 11-13, Mississippi State earned three-straight Southeastern Conference series wins for the first time since winning two-of-three at Arkansas and then sweeping Ole Miss and Kentucky from April 6-21, 2012.

Alexis Silkwood (12-5) threw the first four-and-two-thirds innings, limiting Arkansas to two hits and striking out nine. Arkansas' first eight outs were all Silkwood whiffs. Senior Shana Sherrod entered for one out to end the fifth inning. Senior Alison Owen ended the game with one inning and allowed one hit, striking out one. Arkansas’ Kelly Young (4-4) tossed all five-and-two-thirds, yielding eight runs, three earned, on five hits and six walks. She also struck out two.

Arkansas (27-24, 5-16 SEC) put two runners on in the top of the first, but failed to score. Devon Wallace led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Clarisa Navarro singled off the glove of third baseman Seitz, but Wallace had to hold at second on the play. Silkwood recovered with consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.

MSU put a runner on third base in the bottom of the third, but could not convert. Sophomore Kalya Winkfield led off with a walk. After a fly out, she stole second and moved to third on a groundout. Senior Heidi Shape lined one up the middle, but Young made the catch to close the frame.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs broke the scoreless tie with six runs. Seitz led off with a single to left for MSU’s first base hit and senior Sam Lenahan followed with a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Redshirt freshman Olivia Golden entered to pinch run at second for Seitz. A sacrifice bunt from junior Julia Echols moved the pair up for senior Logan Foulks, who was intentionally walked to load the bases. Freshman Katie Anne Bailey swung at the first pitch and dropped a single just inside the right-field line that plated Golden for a 1-0 Bulldog lead. Freshman pinch hitter Mackenzie Toler followed with a single through the left side that brought home Lenahan for a 2-0 cushion and left the bases loaded. Senior Rachael Zdeb reached on a throwing error by the third baseman, allowing two runs to score and putting runners on the corners with one out. Senior Jessica Offutt reached on a fielder’s choice that allowed Winkfield, who re-entered to run for Toler, to score and make it a 5-0 advantage. Offutt stole second, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher to account for the final run of the frame. A foul out ended the inning.

After the high-scoring inning, Arkansas was retired in order in the fifth and tallied a two-out single in the sixth by Navarro. A foul out to Foulks at first base ended the sixth.

MSU mounted a two-out rally with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game due to the eight-run rule. With two down, sophomore Loryn Nichols walked. Offutt came to the plate and hit a high fly ball that was dropped by the left fielder, allowing Nichols to score. Shape ended the game with a single to left center that plated Offutt.

Mississippi State has nearly a week off before returning to action at 6 p.m. CT Friday at LSU. The teams also play at 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Post-Game Notes

  • Mississippi State scored first and earned the win, improving to 30-4 (.882 winning percentage) when scoring first.
  • The Bulldogs had seven players score at least one run in the contest.
  • MSU drew six walks, the second most for the team during a Southeastern Conference game this season.
  • In the final two games of the series, MSU hit .517 (15-for-29) with runners in scoring position.
  • The Bulldogs drove in 13 runners out of 15 opportunities (86.7 percent success rate) with a runner on third base and fewer than two outs in the final two contests of the series.
  • Senior Sam Lenahan tied her career single-game high with three walks.
  • Lenahan finished her career against Arkansas with a .435 batting average (10-for-23) with six runs batted in during nine contests.
  • Senior Jessica Offutt went nine-straight games without a run batted in, but has driven in eight in the last five contests.
  • Offutt leads the Bulldogs with a .327 batting average (18-for-55) during Southeastern Conference contests.
  • Senior Heidi Shape singled in the sixth inning to increase her consecutive games reaching base streak to 16, the longest on the team this season.
  • Freshman Caroline Seitz went two-for-three in the game and finished the series hitting .500 (five-for-10).
  • Freshman Mackenzie Toler appeared as a pinch hitter in the last two games of the series and drove in five runs in that role.
  • Senior Rachael Zdeb drove in a run in the fourth inning for her first career SEC RBI.
  • Zdeb recorded the first SEC at-bat of her career in the third frame.

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