Tommy Lopez

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MSU Pitcher Earns Honor

Mississippi State junior Alison Owen was named
Southeastern Conference Softball Co-Pitcher of the Week, the league
announced Monday. The right-hander’s first career SEC honor makes her
the ninth pitcher in school history and the second Bulldog in the last
seven seasons to pick up the nod.

“I would not have been able to accomplish this if it was not for the
animal defense behind me and our team’s pitch-by-pitch mentality,”
Owen excitedly told a room full of reporters Monday afternoon. “I also
want to personally thank my two catchers this weekend, Sam Lenahan and
Logan Foulks. They did a phenomenal job behind the plate.”

Owen was named to the Blues City Classic All-Tournament Team Sunday
night after going 2-0 on the weekend. The righty pitched two
complete-game shutouts at the Southaven, Miss., tournament, striking out
31 batters and issuing her first walk of the season in 40.1 innings
pitched. Opponents squeezed out three hits and failed to score a run
against the Bulldogs’ ace, hitting a minuscule .067.

The right-hander began her weekend in style, breaking the single-game
school record with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game, two-hit blanking of
Wichita State. The performance came six days after Owen tied the
previous mark of 14, which was set twice back in 1998.

One day later, Owen returned to the circle and broke her own school
record with a 16-strikeout performance against SIU-Edwardsville. The
Newnan, Ga., native fanned the entire Cougars’ lineup consecutively to
start the game, becoming the first pitcher in school history to record
nine-straight strikeouts. The career-high 16 K’s marked the most by a
SEC pitcher in a seven-inning game this season.

On the season, the junior is 5-1 and leads the SEC in opponent batting
average (.076), strikeouts per seven innings (11.4) and fewest walks
allowed (1). Additionally, she is third in the league in ERA (0.52) and
ranks fourth in strikeouts (65). Her last three starts have all been
complete-game shutouts, including two one-hitters as well as a
two-hitter.

“We knew when she said yes to Mississippi State, it was a big yes for
our program,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “With the help of our
whole staff, she can make a huge impact. She is good now, but she can be
even better.”

After not having an SEC Pitcher of the Week from April 2006 to the end
of the 2011 season, the Bulldogs have had two hurlers earn the weekly
accolade under Stuedeman since the dugout general arrived in Starkville
prior to the 2012 season. Owen’s award marks the 21st time in
Stuedeman’s career that the skipper has coached an SEC Pitcher of the
Week.

Stuedeman’s pitchers have been one of the main reasons for MSU’s
early success this year (9-4). The staff leads the SEC in strikeouts
(143) and opponent batting average (.159), while ranking second in
fewest hits allowed (51). The Bulldogs are on pace for 605 strikeouts in
the regular season, which would shatter the school record set last
season of 358. Opponents are hitting just .159 off Starkville’s Team,
which would also destroy the MSU all-time mark of .216. State’s record
of 6.7 strikeouts per seven innings set by Stuedeman’s staff last
season would be obliterated by this year’s 11.3 mark, while the 1.82
staff ERA is currently the lowest in 15 years.

Missouri’s Chelsea Thomas joined Owen as SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week
after striking out 19 batters in a 4-3 extra-inning win against No. 5
Florida.

Bulldog fans in the Sunshine State can watch their reigning SEC
Co-Pitcher of the Week March 1-3, as Stuedeman’s squad travels to
Orlando, Fla., to take part in the Citrus Classic. The Bulldogs will
play Hofstra, Maryland, LIU-Brooklyn, Fordham and Syracuse in a 48-hour
period at the internationally-known ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Saturday’s game vs. LIU-Brooklyn will air on ESPN3.

For live in-game updates of MSU’s games in the Magic Kingdom, follow
the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures from the Classic, like
the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team’s
Instagram account at MStateSB.