The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Softball goes 5-0 in kickoff

Courtesy Photo| MSU Media Relations

Junior infielder Caroline Seitz makes contact with the ball in one of the Bulldog’s four games during the Bulldog Kickoff Classic. The Bulldogs went 4-0 this weekend. 

On Feb. 11, the softball team took a historic step into Mississippi State sports history.  At    5 p.m.  MSU President Mark Keenum, Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, and Tommy and Terri Nusz opened Nusz Park to the public for the 2016 softball season. 

Keenum congratulated   Head  coach Vann Stuedeman and players on how exciting it was to finally give the team their own stadium and an identity for their own sport. The opening game was against Georgia Southern. 

To start the game, powerhouse pitcher Holly Ward struck out two batters.  MSU’s Cayln Adams and Kayla Winkfield were first up to ring in the new season. Little was done, as Georgia Southern’s pitcher Kierra Camp kept the ball at a fast speed. Mississippi State got the ball rolling in the second inning as Morgan Bell was walked, freshman Sarai Niu went to second and Morgan Bell moved  to third. 

After a base hit by Loryn Nichols, Amanda Ivy hit the ball outfield and sent Bell and Nichols to home plate, scoring MSU’s first two runs of 2016. Another score by Niu closed Mississippi State’s second inning with the Bulldogs up 4-0 against the Georgia Southern Eagles. 

Georgia Southern’s third inning came to a quick end as Holly Ward dominated the field. The Bulldogs began to pull away later in the inning with two runs scored by Niu and Winkfield.

 After a  Katie Anne Bailey single and  wild pitch  MSU’s lead  extended to 6-0. Holly Ward ended the match early as she closed with a career high eight strikeouts. Stuedeman said she was happy with how successful opening night was for the Bulldogs. 

“Opening night was incredible,” Stuedeman said. “From marketing, to those who gave speeches at the ceremony, it was everything you could dream of. It was even better that we won the game. I’m proud of what Mississippi State has done for this program.” 

Continuing the Bulldog Kickoff Classic on Friday night, Mississippi State faced Houston. The lineup was switched as sophomore pitcher Cassady Knudsen earned her fifth career start. In the bottom of the second, freshman Sarai Niu hit her first homerun giving State a 2-0 advantage. Winkfield and Adams extended the lead to 4-0 via consecutive singles. In Houston’s fifth inning,  De’Zha Scott scored the  Cougars only run, making the score 8-1 in the Bulldog’s favor  at the end of the fifth inning.  Regan Green debuted as pitcher in Houston’s sixth inning and struck out Julana Shrum. In the last inning for the Bulldogs, Sarai Niu scored to complete the game at a score of 9-1. Saturday, Mississippi State faced Tennessee Tech and Alabama A&M. State’s streak continued as the Bulldogs blew past Tennessee Tech 11-4. 

The game began with Regan Green returning to pitch after a successful day against Houston. In the second inning, Niu and Adams had a couple of  hits to put two Bulldogs on bases. Nichols struck out swinging and  Amanda Iby was walked, which ultimately led to Adams scoring. Tennessee Tech scored their four runs in the fourth and fifth inning, credited to Alyssa Richards and Sabine Neeb in the fourth and Jessie Cowery and Gabby Perez in the fifth. 

The Bulldogs sealed the game with Morgan Bell’s impressive grand slam, followed by five runs in the sixth inning. Game two was a closer game but the Bulldogs prevailed over Alabama A&M, winning 2-1. In Saturday’s double header, the team debuted many freshmen. Stuedeman said it was important to get the youngsters some playing time.

“We’re really trying to give a lot of people opportunities. We’ve got some good kids doing some good things.” Coach Stuedeman said. 

To end the Bulldog kickoff, the Bulldogs played Houston again winning  this time 7-1. Niu hit another homerun in the second inning after Houston took an early first inning lead. It was a fantastic day as freshmen Kay Moore and Heimberg scored three runs to give the Bulldogs a 4-1 advantage in the fourth inning. 

The undefeated Bulldogs continue their season on Feb. 19 at South Alabama in the Mardi Gras Invitational.They will return home March 4 to face Tennessee Chattanooga at  in the Bulldog Slamboree. 

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Softball goes 5-0 in kickoff