No. 24 Mississippi State Softball Sweeps Doubleheader at Ole Miss to Clinch Series

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OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics)  For the first time since 2011, No. 24 Mississippi State (32-11, 6-8 SEC) recorded back-to-back shutouts against a Southeastern Conference opponent as the Bulldogs swept Ole Miss (21-18, 4-13 SEC) to clinch the series win Sunday at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.

Seniors Cassady Knudsen and Holly Ward each threw complete-game shutouts, racking up a combined 19 strikeouts and allowing just nine Rebel singles over Sunday’s doubleheader.

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At the plate, freshman Mia Davidson led the Bulldogs, doing 5-for-7 over Sunday’s doubleheader with two runs and one RBI. Senior Reggie Harrison recorded four hits and led the team with six RBIs.

“Our team is so tough,” said head coach Vann Stuedeman. “We have a lot of off-the-field things that are pressing, but it just shows you the resilience and the grit of this team. Cassady {Knudsen) was really spinning the ball, and she was trusting herself today, which was fun to see.”

Junior Emily Heimberger and Davidson both recorded three hits in the opening contest as Heimberger scored two runs. Harrison went 2-for-4 at the plate in game one, driving in a team-leading two runs.

Knudsen tossed the complete game, allowing just two hits and five walks and striking out 11 for her sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season.

The Bulldogs are Rebels traded three scoreless innings, with both starting pitchers stranding four base runners. Knudsen worked out of jams in the first and third innings, leaving Rebels stranded in scoring position in both innings.

MSU broke through in the top of the fourth as junior Kat Moore slugged her third home run of the season with a monster solo shot to straightaway center. MSU plated three crucial insurance runs in the top of the fifth with RBI doubles, all to left field, by freshman Mia Davidson and seniors Reggie Harrison and Morgan Bell.

Knudsen worked around five walks and three Mississippi State errors before allowing her first hit of the game in the bottom of the sixth as Dylinn Stancil singled to shallow right. Knudsen and the Bulldogs worked out the jam with help of two strikeouts.

Heimberger led off the top of the seventh with a single through the side before working her way to third with help of an advance on a foul out and a passed ball. Harrison would bring Heimberger home with her second hit of the game, a single up the middle.

The Rebels knocked the second hit of the contest with a two-out single to left center, but senior Carmen Carter reeled in a fly out to right to retire the side to record MSU’s 15th shutout win of the season.

Harrison was the hero at the plate in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader as she went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and four RBIs.

Ward earned the win to move to 12-4 on the season. The right-hander worked around seven hits and five walks to pick up her sixth shutout of the season. She struck out eight Rebels in the outing.

MSU opened game two of Sunday’s slate with early scoring as Harrison knocked a clutch two-out single up the middle to give the Bulldogs an 1-0. Rebels took advantage of two walks and a wild pitch to move two runners into scoring position with one out in the bottom of the first, but Ward responded with back-to-back strikeouts.

The Bulldogs would hold on to its 1-0 lead until the top of the sixth. Junior Sarai Niu led off the inning with an infield single back to the pitcher before Harrison broke the game open with her sixth homer of the season to push the Bulldog lead to 3-0.

A couple Ole Miss miscues in the top of the seventh, including an errant throw on a Heimberger sacrifice bunt attempt, plated a MSU run. Ole Miss intentionally walked Davidson to load the bases before Niu and Harrison knocked back-to-back sacrifice flies to push the lead to 6-0.

The Rebels tried to rally late with back-to-back, one-out singles, but senior Calyn Adams made two impressive defense plays to retire the side and clinch the shutout.

BLANKEM
With its two shutouts of Ole Miss, Mississippi State recorded back-to-back shutouts over an SEC opponent since topping Arkansas by 3-0 and 2-0 finals to open the series in 2011.

SHUTDOWN STAFF
With two shutouts against the Rebels, the Bulldog pitching staff has now recorded 16 shutouts, the second-most in program history. The 1998 pitching staff holds the program record at 17. Holly Ward earned her sixth shutout of the season to move into a tie for fourth in single-season history, while Cassady Knudsen jumped to a tie for seventh with the fifth shutout of senior season.

SERIES SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Sunday, April 15 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. Ole Miss, 5-0
Sunday, April 15 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. Ole Miss, 6-0
Monday, April 16 – No. 24 Mississippi State at Ole Miss (6 p.m. CT)

WATCH LIVE
Monday’s series finale versus Ole Miss will also feature nationally televised broadcasts on the SEC Network with Courtney Lyle and Jenny Dalton-Hill on the call.
Monday, April 16 – No. 24 Mississippi State at Ole Miss (SECN)

LIVE STATS
Ole Miss will provide live stats for all three games of the weekend series, which may be accessed through the link below.

Game Three: No. 24 Mississippi State at Ole Miss Live Stats

ON DECK
No. 24 Mississippi State will go for the series sweep on Monday, April 16 in the series finale in Oxford. First pitch on the SEC Network is set for 6 p.m. CT.

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