STARKVILLE - A complete team effort, led by Mississippi State's four seniors, lifted the Bulldogs to a 6-5 comeback victory over No. 19 LSU on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs fell behind early after a grand slam punctuated a five-run inning for the Tigers (34-20, 13-11 SEC) in the second. But MSU (32-23, 10-14 SEC) answered back with a four-run fourth inning before completing the comeback in the bottom of the sixth.
"It was a huge win. It was a huge comeback to set us up for the postseason," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "The fight and grit that they showed, as well as the improvements on offense and defense. Annie Willis especially played well. After giving up five runs in the second inning, it's easy to just give up on yourself, but she got better and better as the game went on. I'm proud of her for doing so well on her Senior Day, her last game at Nusz Park."
Shea Moreno got things started for State with a leadoff walk in the fourth. She would score on a double from Paige Cook for the Bulldogs' first run. Cook and Chloe Malau'ulu scored when Montana Davidson drove a two-out single into right field on the first pitch she saw.
Phoebe Florian, who had pinch ran earlier in the inning, then came home on a passed ball. In the sixth with Montana Davidson on first, Brylie St. Clair dropped a bloop double in front of a diving outfielder to put runners on second and third.
After Mia Davidson was walked to load the bases, Moreno lined a single into right field. Montana Davidson and St. Clair raced home, with St. Clair just beating the throw to the plate for the winning run.
"I thought it was a great performance all around by our seniors," Ricketts added. "Allison [Florian] made some great plays in right field, and Montana [Davidson] had the big two-out, two-RBI at-bat late in the game. I'm proud of all of them. Mia did what she always does by holding it down behind the plate. I'm proud of the seniors all around. It was a great way to send of this special group of seniors."
Annie Willis on finishing strong... "After that hit in the second, I looked at my teammates behind me, and I decided that this game was going to be for them. It may have been Senior Day for the four of us, but this game was for all of us. After the weekend we've been having, we had to find that grit and fight. That's what we did this game, that was the turn around. It was great, it would've been great if we got the series win, but we didn't. We weren't going to give up on that, we came out today and got down 5-0. We came back, and we didn't stop fighting. It was great to get this win on Senior Day."
Montana Davidson on her two-run single... "I was just thinking that I was going to get this hit, and Brylie [St. Clair] was going to hit me in. We were going to be a team and have a team at bat. I was just thinking in my mind that I was going to hit this ball and hit it hard."
Brylie St. Clair on her double and eventually scoring the tying run with a head-first slide at the plate... "During that at bat, I was just thinking about getting a base hit and having a quality at bat. When Shea [Moreno] made contact, I saw it get down and thought to myself 'no stop signs.' We're taught to go in head-first to avoid the tag. Recently, I've been going in head-first because I think it's more effective."
- Mia Davidson - Broke the school record, making her 261st career start, on Senior Day.
- Chloe Malau'ulu - Extended her reached-base streak to 11 games... finished the game with two hits for her team-leading 15th multi-hit game.
- Paige Cook - Went 2-for-3 with a single and an RBI double.
- Montana Davidson - Went 1-for-3... two-run single in the fourth made it a 5-4 ballgame ... later scored the tying run after reaching on a fielder's choice.
- Phoebe Florian - Scored on a passed ball as a pinch runner.
- Brylie St. Clair - Double and scored the game winning run in the sixth.
- Annie Willis - Threw her 12th complete game as a Bulldog ... did not allow an earned run ... struck out five to become the seventh player in MSU history with 350 career strikeouts
- Ranked Wins - State now has seven ranked wins this year, which is tied for the second-most by the Bulldogs since Samantha Ricketts arrived as a head coach in 2015 ... at 10-14 in SEC play, MSU was two games better in conference play than Ricketts' first year and completed its fourth 10-win season since the league shifted to a 24-game SEC schedule.
Top 2: Georgia Clark reached on a fielding error to open the inning. Shelbi Sunseri then walked. Ali Newland's single scored Clark and advanced Sunseri to second. Sunseri was thrown out at third when Morgan Smith reached on a fielder's choice. Cait Calland walked to load the bases before Danieca Coffey hit a grand slam with two outs. LSU 5, Mississippi State 0
Bottom 4: Shea Moreno drew a leadoff walk before Chloe Malau'ulu singled through the left side. With runners on first and second, Paige Cook doubled to score Moreno. Madisyn Kennedy then walked to load the bases. Phoebe Florian pinch ran for Kennedy, and with two outs, Montana Davidson singled off the diving right fielder's glove. That scored Malau'ulu and Cook and advanced Florian to third. Florian scored on a passed ball while Montana Davidson was stealing second. LSU 5, Mississippi State 4
Bottom 6: Matalasi Faapito singled in a pinch-hit opportunity to open the inning. She was retired for the second out when Montana Davidson reached on a fielder's choice. Brylie St. Clair doubled to advance Davidson to third. After Mia Davidson was intentionally walked to load the bases, Montana Davidson and St. Clair came home on a single to right field from Moreno. LSU 5, Mississippi State 6
The SEC Tournament begins on May 10 in Gainesville, Florida, and the Bulldogs will open play on Wednesday, May 11 as the No. 11 seed against No. 6-seed LSU in a rematch of Sunday's contest.