STARKVILLE, Miss. - In front of a record capacity crowd of 1,553, as well as millions watching at home on ESPNU, the Mississippi State softball team (25-14, 4-9 SEC) defeated arch-rival Ole Miss (21-24, 2-14 SEC) by a score of 5-1 Friday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Bulldogs extended their winning streak against the Rebels to six games, while improving to 10-0 all-time against in-state teams in two seasons under Head Coach Vann Stuedeman.
"I am so proud we were able to put on a good show for this record crowd tonight," said Stuedeman, who improved to 4-1 all-time in nationally-televised games.
State starter Alison Owen tossed a complete-game two-hitter against the visitors, improving to 14-6 on the season. The right-hander struck out seven, walked one and surrendered just one run. Ole Miss starter Carly Hummel fell to 10-14 after giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks.
Bulldog catcher Sam Lenahan finished 1-for-2 with two walks, but recorded the base hit when MSU needed it most. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second following a solo home run by the Rebels' Londen Ladner, the home team started cooking offensively with a single by redshirt sophomore shortstop Julia Echols. Following a walk by junior left fielder Jessica Offutt, freshmen center fielder Loryn Nichols advanced the base runners on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt. With two in scoring position and two gone, Lenahan found open grass in shallow right center with a clutch base knock, giving MSU a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish the remainder of the evening.
With chants of "Maroon" and "White" filling the air, Starkville's Team added three runs thanks to a two-out rally in the fifth frame. Down to the last out in the inning, junior third baseman Logan Foulks crushed the first pitch of her at-bat over the wall in left for her team-leading 11th home run of the season. Redshirt sophomore designated player Briana Bell then reached on an infield single, and tapped the dish when junior second baseman Heidi Shape exploded through the zone with her second long ball of the season to conclude Friday's scoring.
The Maroon and White will go for the series win Saturday at 1 p.m., with the first 100 fans receiving limited edition "Hail State" sunglasses. "Greek Life Day" at the park concludes with a celebrity home run derby immediately following the game. The long-ball challenge will feature local celebs such as football All-American Johnthan Banks, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and more.
Both teams will try to strike out cancer Sunday in the series finale starting at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will wear pink and the first 100 fans will receive pink Nerf softballs to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
For live in-game updates of MSU's rivalry series in Starkville, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.