Mississippi State (19-7, 1-1 SEC) earned their first SEC win of the year after they got off to a fast start and never looked back as the Bulldogs evened up the series with an upset of the No. 3 Auburn Tigers (25-4, 2-3) on Saturday.
The second inning has been favorable to the Bulldogs all year. Coming into the series MSU was outscoring opponents 16-7 in the second frame and 55-16 in the first three innings combined. The Bulldogs continued the trend of scoring early by scoring five runs with two outs in the second inning yesterday.
After a couple of walks, an illegal pitch, and a bunt single, Mississippi State found themselves with the bases loaded with two outs in the second. Amanda Ivy then responded with a single that would drive in both Calyn Adams and Carmen Carter, and thanks to a throwing error Ivy and Kat Moore were both able to advance to scoring position for Katie Anne Bailey.Bailey would take advantage of the situation and hit a triple, bringing MSU's lead up to 4-0. Auburn's starter, Marcy Harper, would then throw an illegal pitch, allowing Bailey to score, increasing the lead to 5-0.
Auburn would then try to manufacture some runs of their own in the third inning. After a HBP, a one-out single, a steal, and a groundout, the Tigers had brought a run of their own across the plate, cutting MSU's lead to four runs with a score of 5-1.
Mississippi State would go on score again in the fifth inning as freshman Taylor Kelly, in her second start ever, would hit an RBI single into center field that would score Bailey, extending the lead back to five runs, bringing the score to 6-1.
Auburn would then attempt a comeback in the 7th. With two outs, the visiting Tigers drove in two runs, setting up a 6-3 game, and had the tying run at the plate. Auburn's threat, however would end there as a one-pitch groundout would end the threat and seal the victory for MSU.
Sophomore Holly Ward (9-2) took the circle today for the Bulldogs and did everything she could to earn the win with her complete game outing. Ward threw 73 strikes and 126 total pitches as she only surrendered five hits and struck out four. The Tigers were only able to bat .179 against Ward, whereas the Bulldogs were batting .268 against Auburn's pitchers.
This is the first time MSU has topped a top-five ranked opponent this year and the first time it has happened since the 9-4 upset of No. 1 ranked LSU last season. This is Mississippi State's ninth win over a top-five team while under Vann Stuedeman.
The final game of the series will be at 11:30 today as MSU tries to earn the series win.