STARKVILLE, Miss. - Behind a balanced offensive attack and a standout night from Cassady Knudsen, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (35-18, 9-13 SEC) took down the No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats (32-14, 11-11 SEC) in game one of the weekend series at Nusz Park.
A one-run first inning and five runs over the fourth and fifth frames was all the Dogs would need to capture the series-opening victory. MSU received hits from six different players, including a 2-for-4 showing from Bevia Robinson, her team-leading 16th multi-hit game of the year and improving her hitting streak to a career-high eight-straight games.
Robinson's first hit set the table for the first inning, as a leadoff single led to a Caroline Seitz RBI double to center to give MSU the early 1-0 advantage. That double moved Seitz's career-high hitting streak to 15-straight games, while giving her 22 RBI in her last 11 contests.
After both sides went silent over the next two frames, MSU upped its lead to 3-0 with a two-run fourth. Reggie Harrison reached on a fielder's choice and made her way to third behind two wild pitches. A Morgan Bell RBI double to left center brought home Harrison, followed by a Calyn Adams RBI double to left, scoring Bell and giving State a 3-0 advantage.
Kentucky responded in the fifth with a two-run home run to right, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 3-2. However, MSU responded quickly, with a three-run home half of the fifth.
Robinson picked up hit No. 2 to lead off the inning, followed by a Kat Moore walk. Seitz would reach on a fielder's choice, followed by a hit by pitch on Sarai Niu that loaded the bases. Harrison took advantage with an RBI single to left, followed by a sac fly from Olivia Golden to up MSU's lead to 5-2. Adams would tie on the final run two batters later with a bases-loaded HBP, pushing MSU to a 6-2 lead.
Over the next two frames, Knudsen allowed just one batter to reach base, shutting down the Wildcats to secure MSU's series-opening win.
Knudsen moved to 9-3 on the year after tossing 7.0 innings, striking out four and walking three. Her Friday night marked the third complete game this year.
With the win, MSU now has eight ranked wins this year, which ties for second most in school history. The record is nine ranked victories, which was set in 2004.
The Bulldogs will go for their fourth SEC series win of the year on Saturday, as MSU and No. 16 Kentucky face off at 3 p.m. CT. Game two will be nationally televised on SEC Network, with Courtney Lyle and Leigh Dakich on the call. Fans can also access the game on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.
Another Ranked Win In The Books...
With Friday night's victory, the Bulldogs have now earned eight ranked wins this season. That is the most ranked wins in a season since tallying eight in 2014. It also stands as the second-most in a season, with the record being nine, set in 2004.