With Mississippi State University softball coming off a season opening with four shutout victories during the Bulldog Kickoff Classic, anticipation to continue the winning streak was high going into their midweek game against the University of Tennessee-Martin and their weekend matchups in the February Freezer.
The Bulldogs (8-1) competed against UT Martin (3-6) Thursday, and the MSU Softball Program unveiled a new campaign called “No One Fights Alone.” The campaign strives to bring awareness to ovarian cancer, a disease which affected one of their own, Alex Wilcox, a freshman outfielder for the Bulldogs.
Wilcox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer her junior of high school. Though she had two surgeries and went through two rounds of chemotherapy, Wilcox did not let this get in the way of her love and desire to play softball. The team will wear special teal uniforms in all of their midweek games for the campaign.
The game was a pitching duel which held MSU scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning, which worked in favor for the Bulldogs to go on and defeat UT Martin 3-0. This was the fifth straight shutout victory.
“Really proud of all 4 pitching appearances,” head coach Vann Stuedeman said. “I think Cassady (Knudsen) has put a little extra pressure on herself, it’s good for her to feel that type of pressure, and I think it will pay off in a long run. Their pitcher (UT Martin's) was also hitting their spots really well, you can tell they came in here and felt like they had a good shot in winning the game, I was really impressed with their team, and it did take us a minute to get started, but another good day.”
Cassady Knudsen had 10 strikeouts and threw three consecutive scoreless innings.
“I was feeling good, the defense was behind me and telling me I could do it, it gave me so much confidence to have them. We try to play one pitch at a time and when the good things happen then they happen” said Knudsen, a sophomore from Altoona, Iowa.
MSU did not get on the board until the bottom of the fourth inning when Mia Davidson scored on Sarai Niu’s single down the right-field line.
“Kat Moore did a great job sparking the offense, and we just followed behind her pretty much. We hit when we needed to, and it was there. Ricketts told us just to relax, see the ball and hit the ball,” said Davidson.
MSU opened the February Freezer on Friday afternoon by defeating Murray State University 6-1, where they were set to take on three teams over the course of two days, but weather extended the competition into Sunday.
MSU’s defense started off a bit shaky, which led to Murray State’s Brenna Finck to score the first run MSU has given up this season on a walk. Although MSU came out a bit sluggish, it did not take long for the Bulldogs to respond.
Davidson put the Bulldogs on the board when she advanced to third base on Reggie Harrison’s infield groundout and was then sent home after a few wild pitches to tie the score 1-1. The Bulldogs quickly began to adapt to the offense and capitalized off a Murray State error in the first inning to take the lead 3-1.
Candace Denis recorded her first save, allowed one hit, one walk and had three strikeouts as she threw for the final three innings. With Murray State (3-5) failing to match the Bulldog’s offense, Emily Heimberger delivered the final run with a single to the left field.
The final game of Friday was the first game to require extra innings this season, and also the Bulldogs’ first loss of the season.
MSU suffered their first loss to the Drake University (6-3) by a score of 1-0. Drake hit a one-out single in the top of the eighth inning to move the base runner to third, all due to an MSU error. Drake pushed across the run to score and take home the win.
Day two of the February Freezer held different outcomes than day one, the Bulldogs defeated the University of South Alabama Jaguars (5-4) 6-3, and due to an extensive rain delay play was suspended for the Drake rematch.
Although the Bulldogs trailed the Jaguars 3-2 until the bottom of the sixth inning, MSU had a comeback victory and scored four runs because of two South Alabama errors and a couple of stolen bases from Mia Davidson and Calyn Adams.
On Sunday against Drake, MSU was looking for revenge. The Bulldogs only recorded five hits in the rematch, one of which came from Candace Denis. Five hits were all it took for MSU to defeat Drake 1-0. Denis hit an RBI double in the top of the fifth inning, putting the Bulldogs on the board and leading them to victory.
The Bulldogs will conclude their 10 game home stand at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 20 when they take on Southeastern Louisiana. The SEC Network Alternative Channel will televise the game.