STARKVILLE - Mississippi State's softball team will play for its fourth regular-season tournament title on Sunday after claiming two victories in the Bulldog Slamboree at Nusz Park on Saturday.
The No. 24/22 Bulldogs won in walk-off style against SE Missouri when Anna Kate Segars belted a two-run home run to break a scoreless tie in the seventh. Meanwhile, Emily Williams flirted with a no-hitter, striking out nine batters along the way.
"[Emily Williams] was lights out for us in the first game," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "She was efficient and getting ahead of hitters all game. I thought the team did a great job of staying up and telling her that we would score some runs for her. It is nice to see different bats in our lineup coming through and AK [Segars] put together a couple great at bats against a quality pitcher."
Williams saw her no-hit bid ended when Addison Barnouski beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt with one out in the seventh. Had she completed the effort, it would have marked just the second time State had thrown no-hitters in consecutive games, dating back to the first two in school history when Alicia Judd and Jenny Hehnke threw back-to-back no-hitters against Alabama State on March 1-2, 1997.
The Bulldogs later got out of the inning when Mia Davidson registered her fifth caught stealing of the year. Williams quickly struck out a final batter to bring the Bulldogs to the plate where it took just two batters to end the ballgame.
Madisyn Kennedy, who had made an athletic play in the top half to catch Davidson's throw and apply the tag at third while still running to cover the bag, led off the inning and reached on an error. Segars did the rest, sending the 2-2 pitch over the center field wall.
In their second game of the day, the Bulldogs wasted no time. The first four batters all reached base and scored before the first out was recorded. Segars again provided most of the damage with a bases-loaded triple before coming home on the first out of the inning. State added one more in the frame.
"I liked how we picked up in game two right where we left off offensively," Ricketts added. "There were a lot of quality at-bats from the entire lineup, and we had base runners every inning which was one of our goals."
In the second inning, the Bulldogs pushed across three more before erupting in the third. MSU brought 14 batters to the plate in that frame, scoring nine runs on seven hits. Ricketts was able to use three pinch hitters, all of whom reached base.
MVSU answered back with a three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning, but the Bulldogs scored three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to result in the final score.
The Bulldogs (23-3) will meet SE Missouri State (12-4) again on Sunday in the championship game at 1:30 p.m. CT.
Break Out the Bats - The Bulldogs' 20-run outburst against MVSU is their highest scoring output since a 23-0 victory against Seton Hall on Feb. 23, 2007 ... MSU's 17-run margin of victory is tied for the second-highest in school history with a 17-0 victory at UTSA on April 13, 1999 ... The third inning of the game saw State send a season-high 14 batters to the plate in one inning while scoring nine runs on seven hits ... Nine individuals had a hit in the contest.
Let the Kids Play - Rickets was able to get every position player at least one plate appearance against MVSU, and the freshmen made the most of their opportunities ... Freshmen coming off the bench were 3-for-6 with five runs scored and five RBIs.
Bulldogs in the Circle - State's pitching staff has held opponents to a .071 batting average over the tournament with a 0.81 ERA ... MSU's pitchers have struck out 43 batters while walking just seven and allowing six total hits.
Aquana Brownlee - Hit a two-run double in her first at-bat against MVSU ...
Mia Davidson - Reached base in all four plate appearances against MVSU, scoring three times ... Drove in three runs, going 2-for-2 with a double and a single.
Madisyn Kennedy - Went 2-for-2 against MVSU with three RBIs and two runs scored ... Also stole a base against the Devilettes ...
Jackie McKenna - Is leading MSU with a .714 average (5-for-7) in the Bulldog Slamboree with a pair of doubles and RBIs.
Anna Kate Segars - Hit a walk-off, two-run homer against SE Missouri ... Was the only Bulldog with multiple hits in that game ... In her next plate appearance, tripled home three runs against MVSU ... Followed that with two walks and scored three times ... Boasts a 1.000 slugging percentage over the Bulldog Slamboree with a team-high five RBIs.
Emily Williams - Threw her third complete-game shutout of the year ... Struck out nine batters, allowing just one hit in the seventh inning.
VS. SE MISSOURI SCORING RECAP
Madisyn Kennedy reached on an error by the shortstop. Anna Kate Segars hit a walk-off home run to center field.
SE Missouri 0, Mississippi State 2
VS. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE SCORING RECAP
Chloe Malau'ulu hit a leadoff single up the middle, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Mia Davidson walked, and Malau'ulu advanced to third on another wild pitch. Fa Leilua reached first on a fielder's choice, when the fielders attempted to thrown Malau'ulu out at the plate before she safely retreated to load the bases. Anna Kate Segars tripled down the right field line, scoring Leilua, Davidson, and Malau'ulu. Candace Denis grounded out to the pitcher, and Segars scored. Madisyn Kennedy drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Lindsey Williams hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Kennedy.
MVSU 0, Mississippi State 5
Mia Davidson walked. Fa Leilua hit a single to left field, advancing Davidson to second. Anna Kate Segars drew a walk to load the bases. Candace Denis grounded out to second, advancing Segars and Leilua, and scoring Davidson. Madisyn Kennedy singled through the left side, scoring Segars and Leilua.
MVSU 0, Mississippi State 8
Jackie McKenna led off with a single up the middle. Brylie St. Clair singled to right field, advancing McKenna to second. Mia Davidson singled to left field and took second on the throw as McKenna scored. Fa Leilua grounded out to third, scoring St. Clair and moving Davidson to third. Anna Kate Segars drew a walk. Christian Quinn reached on an error by the second basemen, advancing Segars and scoring Davidson. Madisyn Kennedy singled to left field, advancing Quinn and scoring Segars. Aquana Brownlee doubled to center field, bringing home Kennedy and Quinn. Jackie McKenna singled to left field, and took second on the throw as Brownlee scored. Paige Cook and St. Clair were both hit by pitches to load the bases behind McKenna. Davidson doubled down the left field line, scoring Cook and McKenna.
MVSU 0, Mississippi State 17
Ayana Taylor singled to center field. Miranda Sandoval reached first on an error, advancing Taylor to third. Deshonte Smith hit a three-run homer to left center.
MVSU 3, Mississippi State 17
Anna Kate Segars reached on an error by the second baseman. Christian Quinn drew a walk, advancing Segars. Kiki Edwards was hit by the pitch to load the bases. Aquana Brownlee reached on a fielder's choice, when Segars was thrown out at the plate. Celeste Soliz grounded out to first, advancing Brownlee and Edwards, and scoring Quinn. Paige Cook singled through the left side, scoring Brownlee and Edwards.
MVSU 3, Mississippi State 20
BULLDOG SLAMBOREE SCHEDULE
Friday, March 6
SE Missouri State 6, MVSU 1
SE Missouri State 8, Bryant 0 (6)
Mississippi State 5, Bryant 1
Mississippi State 6, MVSU 0
Saturday, March 7
Bryant 5, MVSU 4 (9)
Mississippi State 2, SE Missouri 0
No. 1 Mississippi State 20, No. 4 MVSU 3 (5)
No. 2 SE Missouri 8, No. 3 Bryant 0 (5)
8 No. 4 MVSU vs. No. 3 Bryant - 11 a.m.
No. 2 SE Missouri at No. 1 Mississippi State - 1:30 p.m.