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Starkville, Mississippi

Mississippi State pitchers befuddle No. 18 Auburn

70 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics
Photo: Mississippi State Athletics

STARKVILLE, Mississippi - Mississippi State claimed its fifth top-25 win of the year on Friday night, taking the series opener against No. 18 Auburn, 3-2.

A complete team effort, backed by impressive pitching performances gave State the victory. Starter Annie Willis made just one mistake, allowing a two-run homer in the fourth to give Auburn (34-10, 7-9 SEC) a lead. Outside of that pitch, she was fantastic, striking out nine Tigers in 5.2 innings before giving way to Kenley Hawk. Hawk pitched the final 1.1 innings to earn her second save of the year.

"A really great start from Annie," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "I thought she did a great job keeping us in it when we're trying to figure out their pitcher, as well. She's a great pitcher on their side. She's had a lot of big wins for them, and I thought Annie went toe-to-toe with her and matched her the whole way through. And a great save performance, another one from Kenley. The two of them really match well together, and I love how it's a team effort. They're celebrating someone coming in to pick them up and close the door, so I really like that."

The Bulldogs (29-17, 8-8 SEC) tied the game when Shea Moreno hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.

State took the lead after a lengthy review of what appeared to be the third out of the inning. Pinch runner Phoebe Florian attempted to score from first on a bloop single by Paige Cook. Florian was caught in a rundown and tagged at the plate, but upon review, was ruled safe on obstruction by the catcher.

In the top of the seventh, a leadoff walk was advanced to second on a bunt. A single into centerfield looked like it would tie the game, but Brylie St. Clair made a strong throw to the plate to freeze the runner at third.

Hawk retired the next two batters to end the ballgame.

Quotables

Annie Willis on her mindset after giving up a home run... "Let my defense play behind me. All week we have been working at this, and I know they are going to have my back. They had my back when scoring those runs and getting them back. I just knew, put the ball in play and let the defense handle it and we could pull out."

Annie Willis on the approach to this series... "Thinking one game at a time. We are not looking at the game tomorrow or the game Sunday. We were looking at just the game today and going 1-0. Every pitch at a time, every at bat, every defensive play, and we all have each other's back going into it, so we all play for each other."

Shea Moreno on her home run... "I learned from my at-bats and my teammates at-bats. Also, I stuck to our plan. We had a different plan when we started the game, then we adjusted throughout the game. So, it was just trusting the plan we had in place and having Brylie St. Clair's back too."

Quick Hitters

Annie Willis - Pitched 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts ... earned her fifth win of the year.

Kenley Hawk - Earned the save after throwing a scoreless 1.1 innings.

Mia Davidson - Was hit by a pitch to extender her reached-base streak to a career-best 26 consecutive games, giving her sole position of the 10th longest streak in program history.

Paige Cook - Picked up her 17th two-out RBI and ninth game-winning RBI of the year in the bottom of the fifth, which leads the team in both categories.

Phoebe Florian - Pinch ran and scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth on an obstruction call at the plate.

Shea Moreno - Tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run homer to left field ... went 2-for-3 at the plate.

Scoring Recap

Top 4 | Nelia Peralta singled just over the first baseman's head. Rose Roach pinch ran at second before Bri Ellis homered to left field. Auburn 2, Mississippi State 0.

Bottom 5 | Riley Hull reached first on an error by the third baseman before Shea Moreno tied the game with a home run to left. Mia Davidson was hit by a pitch. Phoebe Florian pinch ran at first. Paige Cook singled into right field and Florian attempted to advance home. She was caught in a rundown and tagged at the plate, but the play was reviewed and she was called safe on obstruction. Auburn 2, Mississippi 3

Up Next

The Bulldogs and Tigers continue the series on Saturday, April 23 at 4 p.m. CT on SEC Network.