STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A five-run second inning propelled the Mississippi State softball team (19-7, 1-1 SEC) to a 6-3 victory against No. 3 Auburn (25-4, 2-3) in game two of the opening Southeastern Conference series for MSU.
The win over the Tigers was the first win against a top-five opponent for MSU since April 8, 2015, when the Bulldogs defeated top-ranked LSU 9-4 in Starkville. All six of MSU's runs versus Auburn came in two-out situations.
"I think the biggest point of emphasis is that we don't go away," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We want to fight in every situation and be competitive on every pitch. We have a lot of character. They have fun together and love each other. Good things are going to happen and we just have to stick together. They know that they are a quality ball club. They believe in themselves and in each other."
MSU opened the scoring in the bottom of the second on a two-out, two-run single to left field by junior Amanda Ivy that scored sophomores Carmen Carter and Calyn Adams. Junior Katie Anne Bailey then hit a two-run triple to right field, scoring Ivy and freshman Kat Moore. Bailey was plated a pitch later on an Auburn illegal pitch. The Bulldogs ended the second inning with a 5-0 lead over the Tigers.
In the third, Auburn second baseman Emily Carosone was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Auburn's first hit of the contest by Kasey Cooper. Carosone found home on a groundout by Carlee Wallace for Auburn's first run of the game.
Freshman first baseman Taylor Kelly, starting her second career game for the Bulldogs, earned her first career hit-an RBI single in the fifth inning that scored Bailey and put State ahead 6-1 through five.
Auburn would not go away easily in the seventh as a pair of MSU hits and two Tiger hits scored two and cut the score to 6-3. The rally would end there as a groundout ended the game and gave State its first SEC win of the young conference season.
Sophomore Holly Ward (9-2) drew her sixth start of the year in the circle for the Bulldogs. The Haleyville, Alabama, native allowed five hits, three runs-one earned, walked three and struck out four Auburn hitters in the complete-game effort.
Auburn starter Marcy Harper (6-2) pitched two innings and was relieved by Lexi Davis after walking the leadoff batter in the third. Harper allowed three hits, three walks and struck out one MSU batter. She also allowed five of MSU's second-inning runs, all of which were earned. Davis allowed three hits as well, but only allowed one run to the Bulldogs.
Both teams will return to the field Sunday for the rubber match with first pitch set for 11:30 a.m. CT. Admission is free for all regular season games at Nusz Park and the game will air on SEC Network+, exclusively through WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app. The voice of Bulldog softball, Anthony Craven, will have the call.