COLLEGE STATION, Texas - With help of a two-RBI performance from senior Kat Moore, 12th-seeded Mississippi State softball knocked off 13th-seeded Texas A&M, 3-2, on Wednesday to open the 2019 Southeastern Conference Tournament at Davis Diamond.
Mississippi State (33-20) used early offense to take a 3-0 lead over the host Aggies (32-20), with help of two RBI singles from Moore. Texas A&M battled back with late runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but sophomore Emily Williams kept the Aggies in check for that victory.
Senior Emily Heimberger also turned in a multi-hit performance on Wednesday as she went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.
Williams tossed the complete game to improve to 13-7 in the circle. The right-hander worked around five hits, five walks and a hit by pitch to strand eight Aggies. She fanned four in the outing.
Heimberger delivered a barrel in the bottom of the first, finding a gap in left center just out of the grasps of a diving Kelbi Fortenberry, for a leadoff double. The Aggies answered with two quick outs, but Moore answered with a two-out single through the right side, allowing Heimberger to score from second for an early State lead.
The top of the order made noise again in the bottom of the third. Heimberger reached on her second hit of the game with a bunt single to third base before sophomore Mia Davidson reached safely on a walk. After a wild pitch move both runners into scoring position, junior Fa Leilua sent a fly ball to center for her fourth sacrifice fly of the game. Moore plated the second run of the inning with a hard liner that hit off Aggie second baseman Kayla Garcia's glove and into right center for an RBI single.
Williams kept the Aggies scoreless through four innings before Texas A&M broke through in the top of the fifth. Fortenberry led off the inning with a single up the middle before moving into scoring position on a wild pitch. After a Payton McBride single to left, Baylee Klingler plated the first Aggie run of the game with a sacrifice fly to left.
After leading off the top of the sixth with a walk and hit by pitch, Morgan Smith made it a one-run game with an RBI single to right field, cutting State's lead to 3-2. Williams worked out the jam with a ground ball to shortstop and ground ball to Davidson behind the dish to leave two Aggies stranded in scoring position.
Williams left no doubt in the top of the seventh. Facing the heat of the Aggie order, she forced two fly balls and ground out to third to retire the side in order to advance Mississippi State to the next round of tournament play.
QUOTING VANN STUEDEMAN
"It was really fun to get out there and play here and play in this tournament. The SEC does an incredible job with this tournament. Our girls were fired up to be here. We have a great senior class. They played well; it was a good game by both sides."