Cowbells clanged on campus as they rang with intensity for the Bulldogs’ matchups in Games 7 and 8 in the Bulldog Kickoff Classic Tournament. The now 4-0 Softball team had solid competition on Saturday in the Saint Louis Billikens and the Austin Peay Governors, but triumphed with strong pitching and hot bats.
Pitching was the main story in the first leg of the double header. Sophomore Pitcher Alexis Silkwood threw the complete seven-inning game, fanning 9 Billikens along the way to her second victory of the season.
State kept it close with SLU all game long. It started in the first inning when the Billikens’ Allie MacFarlane drove Alex Nickel home to score first. Then, in the bottom of the 1st, Bulldogs 2B Julia Echols struck one back about 220 feet to left center for her seventh career home run to tie up the score 1-1. A call for crow hopping on Silkwood in the third inning caused Nickel to score from third base and have SLU take the lead 2-1.
With an electric atmosphere in the bottom of the sixth, Katie Anne Bailey drove in Kayla Winkfield to let the Dawgs tie it up at 2 apiece. And then in the bottom of the seventh, with Katie Gentle on third, Winkfield returned the favor to win the game for the Bulldogs 3-2.
Next up, was the Maroon and White’s matchup against the Governors of Austin Peay. The Governors softball team showed a great display of sportsmanship during the Mississippi State vs. St. Louis matchup by sitting in the front row behind home plate cheering on their competitors.
This game was all about the bats, especially in the first inning. The Dawgs lit up Austin Peay for five runs, four hits and a stolen base in the first inning alone and took advantage of the Governors’ Heather Norris. Sophomore Caroline Seitz reached first, and advanced to second on a Governors’ fielding error. She then got to third on a passed ball. Lauren Nichols soon joined her on the diamond, and then stole second. Katie Anne Bailey then doubled, scoring both Seize and Nichols. Mackenzie Toler then walked; she and Bailey both advanced a base due to one of Norris’ wild pitches.
Austin Peay’s Norris had another wild pitch and that lead to Bailey scoring and Toler moving to third base. The 3-0 lead and the wild pitches lead to a pitching change for the Governors. However, Allie Blackwood did not do much better in the first, allowing an additional two runs before stopping the bleeding with a change in their defensive strategy.
The Maroon and White led another offensive attack in the second with Bailey and Toler reaching base. While Bailey got called out on a Fielder’s Choice, Toler was able to steal second. Erika Gaul then came up and laid a beauty of a base hit down the middle of the field to have Toler score and have the Dawgs lead by 6.
Austin Peay had a rally going in the bottom of the fourth. They were able to get two hits and take advantage of two Mississippi State fielding errors to load the bases, but couldn’t capitalize and get someone to cross home plate.
Katie Gentle sealed the deal with a walk-off single to give the Bulldogs an 8-0 victory in Starkvegas. Holly Ward got her second W of the season with the five-inning shutout and two strikeouts to go along with her strong play. It was a great day of athleticism, sportsmanship and some good ol’ softball for the 727 fans who saw the Maroon and White wrap up the victories to extend their winning streak.