When Annie Willis recorded the final out of the 23rd no-hitter in Mississippi State softball history in her team’s 2-0 victory over Louisiana Tech Saturday, she was instantly mobbed by elated teammates and coaches.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know I had that until the very last pitch of the last inning,” Willis said in a news release. “I kind of just felt a sense of calmness throughout our entire team. Pitch-by-pitch we were all locked in, every single pitch, every single inning. It was a great, solid team win altogether.”
Willis pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 10 batters and only allowing a walk and a hit by pitch. MSU has thrown at least one no-hitter in every season since 2015 and the last two have been thrown by Willis. Willis is the seventh Bulldog with multiple no-hitters in her career and the first to throw multiple seven-inning no-hitters
“Something about that scoreboard, I guess it was just right in my face,” MSU coach Samantha Ricketts said in a news release. “In about the fourth inning, I’m like, ‘Okay, she still hasn’t given up a hit. Let’s see how far we can go with this.’ I think probably from about the fourth inning on, I was watching that.”
Most no hitters usually are bolstered by spectacular defensive play, and Saturday was no different. MSU outfielder Brylie St. Clair preserved Willis’ no-hitter by making a long running grab at the wall in the left-center field gap to keep Louisiana Tech out of the hit column.
“I didn’t think it was going out, but I definitely thought it was possibly a ball to the wall,” Willis said. “Then I saw Brylie and [Christian] Quinn both, and I knew those are two of our fastest people on the team. I knew that one of them was going to get it. When Brylie was just throwing her glove up, I said, ‘Okay, she’s got it. We’re good.’”
Carter Spexarth drove in both runs of MSU’s first game Saturday with an RBI single in the first inning and a solo home run in the sixth inning.
“I really like the way Carter Spexarth swung the bat for us today,” Ricketts said. “I think she gets overlooked quite a bit hitting behind Mia [Davidson] and Fa [Leilua]. For her to have the two big hits for us in Game 1 to give Annie some run support, particularly in the first inning since we’ve struggled scoring early lately. I really like her confidence in the box. She doesn’t get too big and try to do too much when they walk Fa in front of her, so she’s one that definitely stands out.”
No. 1 Oklahoma 9, MSU 0
The Bulldogs’ second contest of the day just lasted five innings. After MSU (20-16) held the Sooners scoreless for the first two innings, Oklahoma ran away with the contest with an eight-run third inning, then tacked on one more in the fourth to seal the victory.
MSU is back in action with a matchup against Samford on Tuesday.