No. 25 Mississippi State University (16-3) came off of a good weekend out west heading into a doubleheader on Saturday.
The front end of the doubleheader was against Mercer University (13-5).
MSU exploded in the fourth inning with five runs and three hits to take a six to one lead. Reggie Harrison, a senior infielder from Magnolia, Texas, who transferred from the University of Arkansas, hit two home runs in the game against Mercer, along with two of her teammates.
“It was a lot of home runs from everybody, it was a collective team goal,” Harrison said. “We kind had a plan and everybody stuck to the plan. We chipped away and it worked out for us.”
Emily Williams, a freshman pitcher from Carrollton, Georgia, helped MSU escape a jam in two innings, and stuck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings pitched. Williams said freshman catcher Mia Davidson helped her confidence in the game.
“It went really good, Mia behind the plate did awesome,” Williams said. “She caught a lot of foul tips, and strikes, blocked everything up. It just gave me a lot of confidence to have her back there.”
MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman said it was important to get seven innings out of Williams, but wanted to keep her pitch count down. Williams threw 159 pitches, only giving up one run.
“I think it was important for us to get seven full innings out of Williams in the first game,” Stuedeman said. “She trudged through, I think she threw like 160 pitches, so she has got to learn how to get that number down a bit. It was important for her to feel that.”
Macey Petrey pinched a hit for Harrison and hit a home run to left field in her first at-bat to punctuate the dominant performance. MSU won 7-1 over Mercer. They made a quick turnaround in a game against Sam Houston State University (6-13).
“It is fun to see freshman get in there and get, Grace Dabbs got her first career triple,” Stuedeman said. “Macey Petry hit her first home run. (It was) fun to get everybody out there and get people reps, and get other people rest."
Harrison hit double in the win over SHSU as MSU won 9-0. Now on a three-game winning streak, she said the team found success by sticking to the process.
“Sticking with the process to be honest, we preach a lot about the process and playing the game one pitch at a time,” Harrison said. “That is really what we are doing is just playing the game. Not really worrying about whoever is on the other side of the dugout, playing the game and focusing on that.”
Stuedeman said the team tried to improve their defense this weekend, and they are always working toward something.
“We are feeling confident, and it is always nice to get to come in to conference play feeling confident,” Stuedeman said. “It will be important for us to maintain that confidence until we hit conference play. We gained some confidence out in California that we just got to improve upon.”
MSU wrapped up the weekend with a game against Sam Houston State on Sunday afternoon.
MSU got off to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth after a sacrifice fly drove in a run, and excellent base-running combined with SHSU’s poor fielding resulted in another score. They scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and MSU went on to win 5-0 as they closed out the Bulldog Slamboree.
Emily Heimberger scored three times as she went 3-3 from the plate. Stuedeman said when you have a runner in scoring position, it does not take much to get them home, and this was true today.
“Emily Heimberger was on fire, it seemed like she was always on base and always on third with less than two outs,” Stuedeman said. “That is when we can set up those sac flies, hit and runs or just hit a hole. That sets up the offense to get some runs on the board. That was a positive to see.”
Holly Ward threw a complete game and struck out 10 in her outing. Stuedeman had plenty of praise for her performance on the mound and called Ward’s performance “fantastic.”
“She pitched lights-out, zero walks, that's huge, and we want them to be 87 percent strike on first or second pitch and she was 100 percent today,” Stuedeman said. “Just a fantastic job, she used all of her pitches today and we tried using some different pitches in some different situations just trying to get ready for conference play."
MSU will take on Boston College Wednesday before taking on the University Illinois this weekend. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday.