The Mississippi State battery took care of business Wednesday night at the University of Southern Mississippi Softball Complex to lead the Bulldogs to their 30th victory of the season in a 1-0 decision over the Golden Eagles.
Stephanie Becker (17-10), the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week, put together another masterful performance going the distance in a complete game four-hitter.
The junior also struck out eight USM batters on her way to the win, and she chalked up her victory to a team effort.
"It is awesome knowing I have a great defense behind me," said Becker. "It gives me a lot of confidence, and I always know that they have my back. It helps out a lot."
In the top of the third inning, Ka'ili Smith sent a solo shot off of the scoreboard in left center to plate the only run of the game.
"I made a base running error in the first inning that would have filled the bases," said Smith. "Heidi Shape got beaned, so that would have forced in a run in the first inning. I needed to get it back for my team."
Smith, who played outfield for three years before moving behind the plate, made a key defensive play, catching a Southern Miss (13-27) runner in a rundown that eventually led to a force out at the plate to end a threat in the bottom of the fourth.
Sam Lenahan and Jessica Offutt both picked up two hits in the game for Mississippi State.
The victory allowed the Bulldogs (30-19) to finish 8-0 against their in-state foes, and Smith said that is always an important accomplishment.
"You always want to win the state of Mississippi, and Mississippi State did," said Smith.
The Bulldogs next face Tennessee Tech in a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 on Senior Day before finishing the regular season against at Auburn next weekend.