It was a 0-1 count with runners on second and third in extra innings when Morgan Bell, a senior infielder from Braselton, Georgia, stroked a ball down the left field line. The line drive got down in fair territory driving in Kat Moore, a junior outfielder from Holly Springs, who was the winning run.
With the run, Mississippi State University (9-1) beat Southeastern Louisiana University (7-2) by a score of 3-2 in eight innings.
“My teammates did a great job of getting on base before me,” Bell said. “Then I knew I had people behind me, all I had to do was pass the bat, and get a quality at bat. See a good pitch and hit it up the middle, that is all I was thinking.”
Head coach Vann Stuedeman said it was a huge moment for the team as they felt numerous emotions. She also gave credit to Moore for getting on base, and Sarai for putting Kat in a position to be driven in.
“Kat getting on base was huge, she had not gotten on base all night, so getting that base hit up the middle and beating it out (the throw),” Stuedeman said. “I thought it was good for us to feel that, I wish we did not have to, but we are definitely going to feel it later. Why not feel it now so we can say we have been there, done that.”
Stuedeman was proud of her team for fighting to the finish of the game, and especially the way Holly Ward, a senior pitcher from Haleyville, Alabama, pitched the team to a win, only giving up two hits in two and two thirds innings of play.
“I thought Holly really tore them up, I thought she did a really good job and held her composure after the two bunt singles,” Stuedeman said. “She has got to feel that, it is going to feel like that a lot in the league. So I think that is good for her, and I think she is showing us that she has come out in her senior year to compete.”
Emily Williams, a freshman pitcher from Carrollton, Georgia, was another pitcher Stuedemann thought stood out. She stuck out seven batters and gave up zero hits, and boasted a zero ERA in five innings pitched.
“I would be remiss if I did not speak of Emily Williams, she threw a fantastic game, and it is not her fault she comes out that we give up two runs,” Stuedeman said. “It was preplanned that when she gave up a hit, we were going to throw EW, Candace, and Holly. It was not because she was doing poorly. I need everyone to get out there, and get some time and get some work in.”
The team goes on the road for the first time in a tournament in Palm Springs, California, for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. There, they will play No. 15 Arizona State University, No. 23 University of Nebraska, No. 16 Oklahoma State University, San Jose State University and California State University at Fullerton.
“It will be a community ballpark, not a stadium, so a little bit different feel. There is going to be other games going on around us,” Stuedeman said. “It is one of the most premier tournaments in the country. It is going to be a fun weekend. Really excited about the quality of opponents that we will play.”
Stuedeman stressed the importance of these five games taking place over the stretch of three days, especially with SEC play less than a month away for the team. She said it will prepare them for the grind of conference season.