STARKVILLE - Things were business as usual for Mississippi State's softball team on Sunday as the Bulldogs claimed their fourth regular-season tournament championship with a 2-0 win against Southeast Missouri State.
State (24-3) completed a 5-0 weekend and is now a perfect 5-0 on Sundays. The No. 22 Bulldogs have now won 13 consecutive games which marks the fifth-longest winning streak in program history.
Carter Spexarth provided all of the scoring, lacing a two-run double into the right-center field gap in the bottom of the first, scoring Chloe Malau'ulu and Fa Leilua.
State's pitchers took it from there. Annie Willis, fresh off her no-hit performance in the circle on Friday night, earned her ninth victory while scattering four hits across 6.2 innings. Willis struck out 12 of the 25 batters she faced.
"I thought that was a good game for us, especially going into SEC play," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "It's good to have close-game pressure situations against a quality team and a quality pitcher in Southeast Missouri. I really liked the way Annie held her composure with no walks and 12 strikeouts. Anytime they had momentum, she shut them down. It was really good to see a quality outing out of her."
Willis was lifted with two outs in the top of the seventh after allowing consecutive singles to put the tying run on first. Emily Williams came on to convert her SEC-leading fifth save of the year, striking out the final batter to preserve the shutout.
In two shutouts against Southeast Missouri (12-5) during the tournament, Willis and Williams allowed five total hits and combined for 22 strikeouts.
MSU entered the weekend fourth in the nation with eight shutouts and blanked three more opponents this weekend. Both Willis and Williams now boast earned run averages below 1.00 and have reached the 75 strikeout mark this year.
- Fa Leilua - Went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
- Chloe Malau'ulu - Drove a leadoff single then scored the winning run in the first inning.
- Carter Spexarth - Hit a two-run double for her fifth multi-RBI game of the year.
- Emily Williams - Converted her SEC-leading fifth save ... Faced two batters, walking one and striking out one ... Made three appearances in the tournament, allowing one hit in 8.1 innings.
- Annie Willis - Threw 6.2 innings, striking out 12 batters ... Struck out 31 batters without walking one in 13.2 scoreless innings in the Bulldog Slamboree.
Chloe Malau'ulu hit a leadoff single into left field. Fa Leilua followed with a base hit of her own with one out. Carter Spexarth hit a double into the right-center field gap to plate a pair.
SE Missouri 0, Mississippi State 2
After playing their last dozen games in the friendly confines of Nusz Park, the Bulldogs head on the road for a final midweek tune-up before conference play begins. MSU will play at Southern Miss on Tuesday, March 11 at 6 p.m. CT.