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Mississippi State Softball opens 2016 with a win

MSU opened Nusz Park with a win as Holly Ward dominates and throws a complete game shutout against the Georgia Southern Eagles.

Kelly Price/

In the first game of the 2016 season, Vann Stuedeman and Mississippi State (1-0) got their first win of the season with a dominant 6-0 victory over the visiting Georgia Southern Eagles (0-1) in the Bulldog Kickoff invitational. Holly Ward's complete game and a slough of errors by GSU helped carry the Bulldogs to their first victory in Nusz Park to open the year.

The offenses were silent in the first frame. To open the first of a five game weekend for the, Holly Ward took the circle for the maroon and white and notched two early strikeouts against the Eagles in the first inning, taking MSU quickly to a 1-2-3 inning. Georgia Southern would counter with Kierra Camp and a quick 3 out inning of their own, as the only Bulldog to get on base was Caroline Seitz via an error from the visitors.

In the second inning, Ward would get her third strikeout of the night, and put away the Eagles in order again. Camp, however, was unable to match Ward, as she gave up a pair of hits and walked two batters as Mississippi State would go on to score four runs in the 2nd inning. The Eagles gave up two more errors in this inning and MSU had a 4-0 lead by the time the inning was over.

Georgia Southern would try to strike back against the Bulldogs with an offensive surge of their own in the 3rd inning. The Eagles would get a single and an error to get two runners in scoring position, but that's as far as they would get as a couple of groundouts and Ward's fourth strikeout of the game would quell the surge from the visitors and leave two runners on base. MSU, however, would continue to bring runs home in the 3rd inning. Sarai Niu would double deep to center field. Katie Anne Bailey would follow that with a single but advanced to second on the throw, as Niu would head to third. Niu would then score on a wild pitch that also advanced Bailey to third, and Bailey would be brought home on an Amanda Ivy single.

The rest of the game was rather quiet offensively, as Georgia Southern would replace Kierra Camp with Dixie Raley in the 4th inning. Raley would then quiet MSU's bats a bit and held the Bulldogs to two hits over the final three innings, compared to the six hits the Bulldogs earned in the first three innings. And as the temperatures dropped as the evening progressed, Georgia Southern's bats only got colder as well. Holly Ward would go on to snag four more strikeouts in the final frames of the game. Ward would go on to be the winning pitcher as Camp took the loss.

Notable performances came from freshman Sarai Niu who scored twice, Amandad Ivy and Kayla Winkfield who each brought two runs home, and Holly Ward who pitched an outstanding game that some might argue is the best of her young career. Other impressive stats for the Maroon and White would be the six stolen bases by the home team, all of which came from the trio of Kat Moore, Emily Heimberger, and Olivia Golden. Mississippi State returns to action against the University of Houston on Friday the 12th at 5:30.