Softball loses series despite strong start

Fa Leilua watches the ball fly after hitting a home run. Leilua has hit 19 home runs this season tying an MSU single season record for home runs.

Ending a two-game win streak April 7, Mississippi State University's softball team (24-14, 3-9) dropped the series to No. 5 Louisiana State University (32-8, 10-4) after a loss in the final two games on Sunday with scores of 10-9 and 5-3. 

Winning the first game of the series, the Bulldogs dominated LSU defensively, holding them to zero runs and handing them their first shutout loss of the season with a score of 6-0.

"What a hard-fought battle. I'm really proud of everybody," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We made some really great plays. There weren't many strikeouts in the game, so we had to make all the plays. That's a testament to the girls. I'm really excited about the effort tonight."

While opening up play, the Bulldogs scored four runs in the first inning. Sophomore pitcher Emily Williams pitched a complete-game shutout and left eight Tigers stranded over the span of the game. Although the Tigers had scoring opportunities, it was not enough to overcome MSU's defense.

Senior outfielder Kat Moore stole a home run hit from the Tigers in the sixth inning to seal the shutout. Junior utility player Fa Leilua hit two solo home runs, making this her third time this season to score multiple home runs in a single game. Leilua now has a total of 17 home runs this season. The single home run delivered by Leilua in the fifth inning was the Bulldogs' final run of the game.

Coming into the second game of the series, the Bulldogs tried to keep their winning streak going, but fell short after a late rally, falling to LSU 10-9. LSU would strike first and put up three runs on a three-run home run in the first-inning. The Bulldogs then went on to combat this, by scoring one run in the first-inning off a Moore RBI single.

MSU went on to score eight runs after six innings. Sophomore catcher and infielder Mia Davidson tied for second in school history with her 36th and 37th home runs in this game. Accompanying Davidson was Moore, who also slugged two solo home runs, giving MSU their first and only lead of the game in the sixth-inning.

The Tigers answered MSU's offense and regained the lead with two single home runs to center field. Down one run in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs got into scoring position after freshman utility player Kayla Boseman knocked a one out pinch hit double, but they would not be able to capitalize, making the final game of the series a rubber match.

To start play in the final game, the Bulldogs struck first in the bottom of the second-inning, after an LSU error and a ground ball to second base for an RBI via senior utility player Emily Heimberger.

The Bulldogs held the Tigers scoreless until the top of the third-inning, where LSU tied the game on a two-run home run. LSU took the lead in the fourth after a solo home run from senior catcher Michaela Schlattman.

Then, the game went into a two-hour rain delay, but MSU, yet again, tied the game after a solo home run from Leilua in the bottom of the fifth, which was their final run of the game.

With Leilua hitting her 19th home run of the season, she has now tied MSU's single-season home run record, set by Davidson last season. Leilua also holds the title for the most home runs slugged by a junior in program history.

The tie remained until the top of the seventh, when LSU’s third baseman Amanda Sanchez hit a two-run home, securing the win for LSU after MSU was unable to score any runs in the bottom of the seventh. 

MSU is set to play the University of Memphis at 6 p.m Wednesday. The SEC Network will broadcast the game.

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