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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

MSU softball earns two shutout wins over No. 25 South Carolina

Ivy Rose Ball | Mississippi State Athletics
Junior Sierra Sacco secured two runs and one RBI during the series against South Carolina.

The 16th-ranked Mississippi State University softball team earned a Southeastern Conference series win over the 25th-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina, as the Bulldogs won two of three games against the Gamecocks.

The Bulldogs dominated from start to finish in Game 1. In the top of the first inning, with two outs, first baseman senior Madisyn Kennedy nailed the ball into the left field stands, giving MSU an early 1-0 lead on a home run.

In the third inning, the Bulldogs pressured the Gamecocks’ pitching and defense as they had three on base with no outs. However, senior Paige Cook hit a ground out that the Gamecocks turned into a double play to hold any runs from scoring.

The Bulldogs’ offensive success continued in the fifth and sixth innings as they brought in a pair of runs in both innings, bringing the score to 6-0 in favor of MSU.

Led by sophomore pitcher Josey Marron on defense, the Bulldogs shut down the Gamecocks’ offensive attack, only allowing three hits and striking out seven in seven innings. Marron earned her seventh complete game and the Bulldogs’ ninth shutout of the season, as the Bulldogs rolled on to a 6-0 win.

Marron spoke of her trust in her defensive teammates and how the Bulldogs’ early ability to put runs on the board impacted the defense.

“We put runs on the board early and that kind of helped settle in on defense. Our defense is lockdown day-in and day-out, and I trust every single one of them,” Marron said. “They will make any play when called upon.”

In Game 2, the Bulldogs picked up where they left off Friday night.

In the first inning, the Bulldogs struck first as sophomore Nadia Barbary drilled a double into left field and sent junior pinch runner Sierra Sacco to home plate.

MSU’s offense continued to shine in the second inning as they loaded the bases. Two runs were brought in on a walk by graduate student Aquanna Brownlee and a fly-out by Sacco.

The Gamecocks pressured the Bulldogs in the fourth with a deep single into right field, but they could not capitalize on the early inning hit.

With the Bulldogs’ defense, along with pitching from fifth-year Aspen Wesley, Mississippi State stifled South Carolina’s offense and held them from placing runners in scoring position for the full game.

Wesley and the defense closed out the game, retiring the final 11 batters.

Bulldogs head coach Samantha Ricketts spoke highly of Wesley’s performance and the momentum it gives her team.

“I think we have a lot of confidence in Aspen, and a lot of our pitching staff on the mound. It just helps us feel like we’re in control and we have the momentum,” Ricketts said. “We want to be able to hit for a while and get her more insurance runs every time she’s out there dealing for us.”

Wesley pitched nine strikeouts and was essential to the Bulldogs’ strong defensive efforts as she played the full game in the 4-0 win.

Closing Game 2, Mississippi State earned the series victory and back-to-back shutout wins.

In Game 3, South Carolina’s offense finally found some success, earning an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. However, MSU would quickly tie things up in the top of the second.

In the fourth, MSU had an opportunity to take a lead with a runner on third but failed to bring the runner to the plate.

South Carolina’s offense livened again in the fourth with a single by Zoe Laneaux who advanced to third on a bunt by Jen Cummings, then Kianna Jones drilled a homerun into left centerfield. However, the home run was called back due to Laneaux leaving the base early, and South Carolina’s temporary 3-1 lead was erased. The score remained 1-1, and Laneaux was out at second on the call.

In the bottom of the sixth, South Carolina delivered as Bre Warren hit a double, bringing in two runners and putting them ahead 2-1.

The Bulldogs had a chance in the top of the seventh to come back as Brownlee hit a leadoff single. However, the Gamecocks were able to get the next three batters out and take away the third game.

Mississippi State returns to Nusz Park to take on the University of South Alabama Wednesday at 6 p.m. The matchup game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus.

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