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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs softball drops weekend series over Tennessee despite Game 1 dominance

Courtesy Photo | MSU Athletics

The Mississippi State University softball team lost two-of-three games against No. 5 Tennessee over the weekend. In Game 1 the Bulldogs run-ruled the Volunteers, marking the highest ranked victory in Starkville since 2016 as well as their first run rule over a top five team in school history. Despite this remarkable victory, Mississippi State ultimately faced defeat for this conference series.

However, Game 2 was a much different story. The Volunteers came out hot early in the first inning and never trailed, despite a solo homer from junior catcher and outfielder Jessie Blaine, eventually cumulating in a 6-1 defeat for the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Game 3 was more or less the same, with the Volunteers coming out to a 5-0 lead by the third inning. The Bulldogs lowered the point gap to a two-point lead with a three-run homer from fifth year utility player Paige Cook in the fourth inning.

However, the Volunteers would take control, thanks to a dominant pitching performance from reliever graduate pitcher Payton Gottshall, who allowed zero hits and runs while striking out six batters. The Volunteers seamless pitching along with a few insurance runs allowed Tennessee to secure the series, handing the Bulldogs a 7-3 loss on Sunday.

The Bulldogs have had a hard home schedule and have yet to win a home SEC series this season. They are currently 3-6 in home conference games following their weekend matchup with Tennessee.

MSU Softball Head Coach Samantha Ricketts hopes her team will use this setback to motivate them for the remainder of the season.

“I think we have higher expectations,” Ricketts said. “We have to make plays behind our pitchers. We gave them far too many extra chances. It definitely should have been a closer game for us there, as well as having quality at-bats. It’s something for us that we are talking about. How can we use these as lessons and finish strong? We still think that all of our goals, when we are talking about postseason and setting us up for success, are still in front of us. We have to continue to learn and get better week by week.”

Despite the series loss, the Bulldogs saw new attendance records this past weekend, with 4,042 total fans in attendance over the course of the weekend, the largest crowd for a three-game series in program history.

“We’ve talked about that a lot this weekend, just seeing how far we’ve come with all of our fans out there supporting us,” Cook said. “We have always talked about how we are such an energy-based team. When the crowd brings the energy, it lifts us up even more. Just knowing that they are there, backing us up means a lot to us.”

Following the series, the Bulldogs now sit at a 29-12 overall record, including 9-9 in SEC play. Up next for the Bulldogs, the team will travel to play No. 14 Missouri in Columbia for a three-game series starting Friday. All three games will air on SEC Network.

About the Contributor
Colin James
Colin James, Staff Writer
Colin James is a senior communication major. Colin is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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