TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Mississippi State was determined not to repeat its regular-season matchup with in-state rival No. 23 Ole Miss. The Bulldogs jumped all over the Rebels with their first four batters reaching base safely as State claimed a 3-1 victory in its first game of the SEC Tournament.
With the win, the Bulldogs advance to play top-seeded No. 4 Florida on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. CT.
Chloe Malau'ulu, Fa Leilua and Carter Spexarth all singled to open the ballgame and load the bases. Mia Davidson then drew a walk to score the game's first run before the Rebels (34-20, 12-12 SEC) could record an out. A ground out from Addison Purvis would plate a second run for Mississippi State (33-22, 8-15 SEC) and prove to be all the Bulldogs needed.
"We expected to see [Anna Borgen] today because she really did a great job against us in early March," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "We really struggled to get to her at all in that series, going in we knew how we were going to be pitched, how they were going to look to attack us. We were ready with some adjustments. That series early on showed us some of our weaknesses. I love the adjustments we made, not trying to get too big. Really it was single, single, single from three of our big hitters, doing what they needed to do to have quality at-bats and get us baserunners from the start."
Carter Spexarth had a career day, going 3-for-4 with a solo home run to provide an insurance run in the third. Mia Davidson added a double later in the game. From there, the story was State's defense.
The Bulldogs threw two runners out at the plate. Following a leadoff double in the fourth, Jackie McKenna and Montana Davidson teamed up to gun down a run at the plate on another double into left field. In the fifth, Madisyn Kennedy fielded a ground ball and caught a runner trying to score from third. The final blow came on an exceptional running catch in right field from Christian Quinn in the sixth inning that silenced the Rebel dugout.
Samantha Ricketts on Alyssa Loza out of the bullpen:
"It's so great. Loza's just been on fire and really embraced that closer role. She's a great one to match with Emily [Williams] because it's two very different looks. Emily's going to come in with spin, change of speeds, more movement. Loza is just pure power and does a great job of hitting her locations. That's something she's really improved. She hit multiple 70s today in those last innings. It's tough to time up after you've seen Emily a couple of times."
Carter Spexarth on her home run:
"It was right there. She left one white for us. We knew she would throw one in the at-bat and you just had to go attack it. We were hitting them foul a lot. [It was] inside-out the ball and try to hit it up the middle."
Carter Spexarth on how the team adjusted to Ole Miss pitcher Anna Borgen:
"That was the first SEC series we had played. We were young whenever we played that game. Having all the SEC at-bats under out belt and the experience and knowing we could beat her, we were better than her and we had all the film on her made all the difference."
Mia Davidson on the importance of the team's defense during their win streak:
"It's super important. It builds trust with the whole team, knowing that everybody has each other's backs. It doesn't matter if it's pitchers, infielders, outfielders, we're all playing solid defense. It shows, and it gives us great momentum."
Making Adjustments - State posted just four hits in three games against Ole Miss' Anna Borgen in their regular-season series in March ... Today the Bulldogs had six hits against her in two trips through the batting order ... MSU scored just one run in the March series, but plated three in today's victory.
Let's Go Streaking - The Bulldogs have now won eight straight ballgames ... State has scored 4.5 runs per game in that span while its pitchers have posted a 1.50 ERA as a staff.
Mia Davidson - Picked up a double ... Drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home a run ... Tagged out two runners at the plate.
Montana Davidson - Walked twice out of the nine-hole.
Alyssa Loza - Earned her fifth save of the 2021 season and her fourth in her last four appearances ... Threw 2.2 innings retiring every batter she faced ... Struck out two.
Carter Spexarth - Went 3-for-4 with a solo home run.
Emily Williams - Pitched 4.1 innings without allowing an earned run ... Struck out four and allowed just two hits.
Chloe Malau'ulu, Fa Leilua and Carter Spexarth all singled into left field to open the ballgame and load the bases. Mia Davidson drew a walk to score Malau'ulu. Addison Purvis grounded out to the shortstop to bring home Leilua. Mississippi State 2, Ole Miss 0
Carter Spexarth hit a leadoff home run to left field.
Mississippi State 3, Ole Miss 0
Sydney Gutierrez doubled to open the inning. Kelsha Loftin pinch ran at second. Loftin was thrown out at the plate on Abbey Latham's double, but Latham advanced to third on the throw. When Blaise Biringer flew out to left field, the throw back to the infield was errant and allowed Latham to score.
Mississippi State 3, Ole Miss 1
Mississippi State will meet No. 1 seed Florida on Thursday, May 13. The Bulldogs and Gators throw the first pitch at 11 a.m. CT on SEC Network.