STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Under the lights of Nusz Park, Holly Ward closed out a spectacular pitching performance, leading the Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-6, 2-3 SEC) to a 1-0 victory against the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (27-3, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday.
"I'm just really excited for the kids," MSU coach Vann Stuedeman said. "They really played great. Holly Ward threw a great game and I'm really excited for the fans. They came out, the place was packed, it was a great night. It was fun to be able to come out with a victory for those guys and for the kids."
With the win, the series is now tied at a game each, with the rubber match set for a 4:30 p.m. CT first pitch on Sunday.
State used an RBI single from Amanda Ivy in the second frame to notched the only run it would need. Calyn Adams led off the inning with an infield single and would advance to third after a fielding error allowed Alexis Silkwood to reach safely. After a strikeout, Ivy stepped up and delivered a clutch two-out single over the second baseman to bring Adams home.
From there, Ward kept up her unbelievable night in the circle. Ward would retire 10-straight batters from the first to the end of the fourth inning. Only three batters would reach base for the remainder of the game, with Ward slamming the door on the Tide with a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
Ward's final inning was not without a pair of amazing plays, as Reggie Harrison would range across the infield to make an amazing grab and throw to first. The final out would come via left fielder Kat Moore, who made an unreal diving catch on a fly ball to left, sealing State's win.
Along with Ivy and Adams, Moore would be the third Bulldog to notch a hit on the night.
Ward's fifth win of the season was also the fourth complete game shutout of her career. In 7.0 innings of work, she allowed no runs on two hits, striking out three and walking only two.
"We had a plan going in," Ward said. "We've just worked the process all week preparing and I just trusted myself and my defense. My defense just worked for me."
MSU and Alabama will square off at 4:30 p.m., on Sunday for the series victory. The game will be streamed on SEC Network +. Fans can access the broadcast through WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app.