STARKVILLE, Miss. - A four-run first inning was all No. 23 Mississippi State (17-3) needed to knock off Boston College (6-10), 4-3, at Nusz Park on Wednesday evening.
In one of her tougher outings of the season, senior Cassady Knudsen (6-1) anchored MSU in the circle against the Eagles. Knudsen allowed three earned runs, the most she earned runs she has allowed all season, off six hits, two walks and a hit by pitch, but struck out 10 for her fifth double-digit strikeout performance of the season.
Mississippi State's other ace senior Holly Ward tossed the final inning, allowing just one run with one strikeout to notch her second save of the season.
"We moved out game time up, so I wasn't sure how our kids were going to respond," said head coach Vann Stuedeman. "Kat (Moore) set the tone, bouncing one over first base, and that really set the tone for the rest of the game. I thought Cassady had one of her tougher outings of the season, but I look at the box score and she has 10 strikeouts. She had a little better of a day than I thought she did."
The top half of Mississippi State's batting order generated the offense versus the Eagles, as four Bulldogs tallied five hits. Senior Morgan Bell led State at the plate going 2-for-3 with a career-high two doubles and two RBIs.
First-inning offense was all Mississippi State needed to hang on for its 17th victory of the season. Junior Kat Moore led off the bottom of the first slapping a single over the first baseman. Freshman Mia Davidson follow with a walk before a double steal moved both Bulldogs into scoring position.
Juniors Sarai Niu and Emily Heimberger answered with back-to-back singles to left field to pick up an RBI each to put MSU up 2-0 before Bell cleared the bases with a two-out double to right center for a 4-0 advantage.
Boston College answered in the top of the second loading the bases with no outs after a walk, bunt single and hit by pitch. A hard-hit single through the right side plated two runs, cutting MSU's lead to 4-2.
Knudsen and Boston College's Jessica Dreswick traded two scoreless innings, before Boston College plated its third unanswered run in the top of the fifth. The Eagles led off the inning with a single to second, but Knudsen quickly answered with an ground out to second and a strikeout, but an two-out single to left pushed home run to slice MSU's lead to 4-3. Knudsen would retire the next four batters she faced, before Ward stepped in for the seventh inning. The Eagles got the tying run on base with a one-out single, but redshirt junior Bevia Robinson fielded a tough play at third for a ground out before Ward closed the game with a strikeout.
Mississippi State ends its nine-game home swing with its final weekend of nonconference play, welcoming Illinois and UMass-Lowell to Nusz Park. The Bulldogs open the weekend on Friday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. versus the Illini. MSU will play a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 10 facing Illinois at 1:30 p.m. CT before taking on the Riverhawks at 4 p.m. CT. The final game of the weekend is set for Sunday, Feb. 11 as MSU battles UMass Lowell at 1:30 p.m. CT.