Mississippi State softball entered the weekend series against South Carolina with just won Southeastern Conference victory all season. But the Bulldogs left Columbia with their first series win all year.
MSU (27-22, 3-15 SEC) won Sunday’s rubber match against South Carolina (25-22, 4-17) after an offensive explosion carried it to a 7-1 victory.
“I think the biggest thing the offense did up and down the lineup was string together quality at-bats,” head coach Samantha Ricketts said in a news release. “They didn’t get too big and rely on the home run ball but took walks and marginal pitches in tough counts to make their pitching staff work a little bit harder. It was really great to see production from everybody. Montana (Davidson) had a great weekend in the nine-hole. Jackie McKenna as well. Chloe (Malau’ulu) was really setting the table all day long, and Fa (Leilua), when she finally gets pitched to, does what Fa does and is able to take one for a good knock-out punch for us.”
MSU struck first in the top of the third when Fa Leilua launched a three-run homer. South Carolina responded in the bottom frame by scoring its lone run off a sacrifice fly.
Alyssa Loza pitched the final four innings for the Bulldogs and held the Gamecocks scoreless, allowing two hits and striking out two batters.
“Going in, I knew the defense had my back,” Loza said. “I trusted my pitches and trusted Mia (Davidson) back there. I trusted our pitch calling and our preparation all week. That really let me get into my zone and my mindset of going out there, throwing my best pitches, attacking the zone and just having fun.”
MSU’s defense held up Sunday, not committing a single error in the field.
“Defense was huge,” Ricketts said. “I don’t think we had a ton of strikeouts all weekend long with our pitching, so we had to make a lot of plays. Madisyn Kennedy was just automatic. Every ball hit to her she stopped even if it was a hit. She was just getting out after out, and we had some really big plays in the outfield as well. We did a good job of pitching to where we knew we wanted to go, and coach (Tyler) Bratton had them shifted in the right positions. We were able to make some plays and take away any rallies when they got started.”
Other offensive highlights Sunday include a Mia Davidson home run in the top of the fifth inning and an RBI double from Montana Davidson in the sixth.
The Bulldogs host No. 16 Tennessee at 1 p.m. Wednesday for a doubleheader. The two contests were originally scheduled as part of the teams’ series in April but were postponed to due positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Tennessee program.