The Mississippi State softball team didn’t need any help to beat visiting Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday at Nusz Park.
The Bulldogs got it anyway.
No. 24 MSU (6-1) took advantage of a whopping six errors by the Devilettes (0-4), scored a pair of runs on wild pitches and stole seven bases en route to a 10-2 win on the run rule in six innings Wednesday.
Redshirt senior third baseman Montana Davidson continued her hot streak to pace the Bulldogs, going 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI. She followed up her third-inning three-bagger to center with her first-ever steal of home plate.
“I’ve watched (fifth-year senior outfielder Christian) Quinn do it in practice all the time, and I never got to do it,” Davidson, who leads the team with a .522 batting average, said in a news release from Mississippi State. “Right when it happened I was like, ‘What would Quinn do?’ and it worked. That was basically it.”
She and junior center fielder Anna Kate Segars each had two stolen bases, while graduate student first baseman Fa Leilua, sophomore second baseman Paige Cook and sophomore outfielder Brylie St. Clair all had one.
“(Assistant) coach (Tyler) Bratton does a great job with our hitters and really preaching the importance of being smart baserunners,” head coach Samantha Ricketts said. “Even if you’re not the fastest on the team, you can still take advantage of opportunities. Just really being opportunistic, reading down angles in the dirt for any chance we have to take an extra base and getting good jumps, and it’s something that we put a lot of emphasis on with our baserunning.”
Of course, Mississippi Valley State’s defensive lapses had just as big an impact on Wednesday’s game as the Bulldogs’ aggressiveness did. The Devilettes had an error, passed ball or wild pitch in five of their six innings in the field. On the game’s final play, a dropped pop-up behind third base scored Mia Davidson from second to put Mississippi State at the eight-run threshold for the mercy rule.
Montana Davidson, Segars, Leilua and St. Clair all ended up with two hits for Mississippi State, which had 12 in the game. Sophomore pitchers Aspen Wesley and Kenley Hawk each threw three innings, with both Valley runs and all three hits coming on Hawk’s line. Wesley finished with seven strikeouts to just one walk in three scoreless innings, while Hawk walked three and struck out four.
“I thought Aspen did a great job coming out and starting strong, really just dominating from the beginning,” Ricketts said. “It was good to get Kenley Hawk in there for some innings. She’s got to attack the zone a bit more, but it really brings a different look for us going hard and down in the zone.”
The Bulldogs will have a day off before heading to Texas for the Lone Star State Invitational this weekend. Mississippi State will play a doubleheader with Texas State at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Friday in San Marcos before traveling to Austin to face No. 7 Texas at 10 a.m. and Houston at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. An 11 a.m. game with Baylor on Sunday in Waco rounds out the trip.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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