STARKVILLE - On a day designed to honor her, Aspen Wesley threw a complete game in a 4-1 series-clinching victory against South Carolina on Native American Heritage Day.
Wesley struck out seven while walking just one batter to pick up her fifth win of the year. She needed just 89 pitches and allowed four hits.
"She threw a great game, to come out and just really, I thought, stay in control the entire game," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "She was attacking the zone, going right at the hitters. She did just a great job mixing and was calm and collected and gave us a chance to get the offense going there. But, just poise, mixing her pitches - just doing what Aspen does best. I think it's a little bit more important to do it with her fanbase, her family and everyone here to support. It was definitely a special day for Aspen, and I'm glad that we could get her that opportunity today."
Offensively, State (21-8, 2-0 SEC) was paced by Paige Cook whose two-run homer broke a scoreless game open in the bottom of the fourth. Chloe Malau'ulu and Jackie McKenna both collected doubles, and Macy Graf delivered an RBI triple. Cook also put a run on the board with a sacrifice fly.
After Friday night's game featured a combined 28 strikeouts between the teams, MSU struck out just once on Saturday. The Bulldogs also improved to 6-1 when they do not make an error in the game.
Samantha Ricketts on making no errors today...
"I think it's huge for us, to make sure we're playing good defense behind our pitchers. It's something we really do try to focus on. It's helpful when she's not allowing a whole lot of baserunners behind her, but, I think the biggest thing that she did was she attacked. She mixed different pitches and different parts of the zone to keep them off-balance all game."
Aspen Wesley on pitching during Native American Heritage Day...
"I knew this day was coming, and I've been looking forward to it since they told me this was going to happen. I was in the bullpen today and those little kids were watching in the back. I was like 'That's crazy.' That was me when I was younger, and I just wanted to put on the best attitude for them. No matter what the outcome was, to have the best attitude still. I just went out there and did my thing."
Aspen Wesley on what was working in the circle...
"I feel like all my pitches were working in some kind of way. They have great hitters, but, of course, we have to work certain ways for the different hitters. I was just trying to make sure my spins were working, and I knew the wind was blowing in a little. I wasn't trying to do too much, and make the ball move with the wind a little bit."
Paige Cook on her two-run home run in the fourth inning
"[It was] definitely just adjusting. We knew what she had and just needed to trust our plan a little bit more. She got behind in the count, and I thought she was going to throw me something in the strike zone so I took advantage of it."
Paige Cook - Hit a two-run homer in the fourth ... now has five homers on the year ... also hit a sacrifice fly for a season-high three RBIs in the game.
Macy Graf - Drove in a run with a triple in the fifth.
Chloe Malau'ulu - Doubled to open the fourth ... also walked, stole a base and scored once.
Jackie McKenna - Doubled to open the fifth.
Aspen Wesley - Threw her second complete game of the season ... struck out seven, coming one shy of her season high ... walked just one.
Chloe Malau'ulu led off with a double to right center. Paige Cook followed with a two-run homer to center field.
South Carolina 0, Mississippi State 2
Jackie McKenna opened the frame with a double to left. Macy Graf would bring her home with a triple to right-center. Malau'ulu walked and stole second base before Cook's sacrifice fly scored Graf.
South Carolina 0, Mississippi State 4
With one out, Brooke Blankenship singled into right. Following a pop out, Jen Cummings doubled into center, bringing Blankenship around to score.
South Carolina 1, Mississippi State 4
The series finale is set for 12 p.m. CT on Sunday with the game airing on SEC Network+. Sunday is also MSU's annual Bark in the Park game, which is the only day that dogs are allowed inside Nusz Park. Dog owners must sign a waiver to participate and sit in a designated section of the stands. They are also responsible for cleaning up after their pets.