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Starkville, Mississippi

Mississippi State's hot start earns series-opening win

37 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics
Photo: Mississippi State Athletics

STARKVILLE - Mississippi State claimed its fifth straight SEC victory with a 4-2 victory over No. 22 Georgia on Friday night. The Bulldogs jumped out to a two-run lead in the third and added a pair of runs in the fourth.

Aspen Wesley allowed three hits in 4.0 innings and surrendered just one run following a leadoff double in the fourth. Alyssa Loza came in to earn a save in her second consecutive appearance, throwing 3.0 innings with five strikeouts.

"They are playing relaxed and loose," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "Also, they are just playing Mississippi State softball. They are attacking more. I saw a lot of good, gritty performances. Our best game defensively, we maybe gave up more free passes then we would have liked and still finding a way to win. Still finding ways to compete and not give in. This is something we have been asking, practicing, and working towards all year long."

The Bulldogs (30-22, 6-15 SEC) played small ball in the third following a leadoff single from Christian Quinn. Montana Davidson then beat out a bunt single that allowed Quinn to go from first to third. Davidson then stole second before both runners eventually scored on sacrifice flies.

In the bottom of the fourth Jackie McKenna pinch hit with the bases loaded. She drove a single into right field to score Mia Davidson and Paige Cook after the runners had reached on walks.

Quotables

Samantha Ricketts on playing small ball in the third inning:

"The change of approach is something we have been working at. I thought Quinn did a great job of sparking that inning and finding a way on base. Then Montana putting down a sacrifice bunt when we knew what the coverage was going to look like. She did a great job listening and executing it. Then Quinn seeing that third base wasn't covered and taking the extra base on Montana's bunt. I think we are more detail-oriented and executing what we needed to do. And Chloe and Fa with the sac flies, again not getting too big in the situation, just knowing what their job is. With that situation with the runner at third there are many ways to score a run, and it doesn't always have to be a hit."

Alyssa Loza on striking out a career-high five batters in relief:

"I was just trusting my pitches and the pitch calling, hitting my spots and making the ball move a little bit. Also, trusting my defense out there and getting strikeouts. I will take those any day, but at the end of the day all I am looking for is to get some outs."

Jackie McKenna on her pinch hit at-bat:

"I had the bases loaded, and they switched the pitcher as soon as I stepped up. We were working her plan all week, so I knew what she was throwing. I watched the first one because I was a pinch hitter right off the bench and I needed to see one. That second one was on the outside corner, and I sat and drove it. I really just got my barrel out there."

Jackie McKenna on her role in a rotation with Christian Quinn:

"We always pick each other up. It is huge that I am a righty and a power-hitter, and Quinn is a lefty. It's really different. I think Quinn did really well out there finding a gap for us. Ricketts told me in the beginning that I was going to come in later. It was the right situation for me. I was ready, sitting and getting ready with my mental at-bats."

Quick Hitters

Let's Go Streaking - The Bulldogs have won five consecutive SEC games for the first time since 2015 when State defeated Florida, swept Arkansas and defeated LSU ... MSU has won three straight games against ranked opponents for the fifth time in school history and the first time since April 12-18, 2014 ... State defeated then-No. 3 Alabama, 4-2 and 4-3 (10 inn.), along with then-No. 4 Tennessee, 2-0, in that span ... It is the first time MSU has done so in three consecutive games without a break against an unranked team during the streak.

Montana Davidson - Beat out a bunt single and stole a base in the third inning ... Now has four stolen bases this season.

Alyssa Loza - Earned a save for the second straight game ... Picked up five strikeouts in relief, matching her career high set on April 19, 2019 against Ole Miss.

Jackie McKenna - Had two hits and two RBI's ... Delivered a two-run single as a pinch hitter ... Now has 15 RBIs this season ... Picked up her first game-winning RBI of the year.

Brylie St. Clair - Came in as a defensive replacement in center field ... Picked up a hit in the fifth inning.

Aspen Wesley - Earned her first career SEC victory.

Scoring Recap

Bottom 3

Christian Quinn led off with a single to left field. Quinn advanced to third when Montana Davidson beat out a bunt single. Montana Davidson then stole second without a throw. Quinn scored and Montana Davidson advanced to third on a sacrifice fly from Chloe Malau'ulu. Montana Davidson scored on a sacrifice fly from Fa Leilua. Georgia 0, Mississippi State 2

Top 4

Lacey Fincher doubled to center field. Fincher advanced to third on a ground out from Jayda Kearney. Fincher scored on a Sydney Chambley single through the right side. Georgia 1, Mississippi State 2

Bottom 4

Mia Davidson led off with a walk. Following a flyout, Paige Cook and Madisyn Kennedy drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Mia Davidson and Cook scored on a pinch-hit single to right field from Jackie McKenna. Georgia 1, Mississippi State 4

Top 5

Savana Sikes walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sikes advanced to third when Sydney Kuma grounded out to first base. Fincher walked to put runners on the corners. Sikes scored when Mackenzie Puckett singled to center field. Georgia 2, Mississippi State 4

On Deck

MSU and Georgia continue the series on Saturday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. CT. Saturday's game is also set to be nationally televised on the SEC Network.