OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – A back-and-forth game ended with a three-run, fifth-inning rally by Ole Miss (22-18, 5-13) as the Rebels held on for a 7-6 victory over No. 24 Mississippi State (32-12, 6-9 SEC) to take the series finale at the Ole Miss Softball Complex on Monday night.
The Bulldogs tossed four pitchers in the outing with senior Holly Ward taking the loss. The right-hander tossed the final two innings, allowing one run off one hit and a walk. Ward and sophomore Candace Denis struck out team-leading three Rebels in the game.
Mississippi State moved two runners into scoring position in the bottom of the first with a one-out walk issued to freshman Mia Davidson, single to shallow left by junior Sarai Niu and a passed ball, but the Bulldogs could not push a run across.
Leading off the home half of the inning with a triple, the Rebels plated their first runs of the series by driving in a run off a fielder’s choice and a single up the middle.
After going down in order in the second, Heimberger knocked a one-out single to right field before Davidson tied the game with one swing in the top of the third with her SEC-leading 15th home run of the season.
The Rebels answered in the bottom of the third, leading off with a single. An errant throw on the pick-off attempt moved the Rebel runner to third. Niu wrangled a foul out, stumbling into the visitor dugout on the play for the first out, but the run was allowed to score on the dead ball call to give Ole Miss a 3-2 lead.
Mississippi State answered in the top of the fourth with a rally of its own. Senior Morgan Bell led off the fourth with a double to left field and was lifted for sophomore pinch runner Maddie Dorsett. After moving to third on a fly out, Dorsett came home on an RBI single to left field to lock the game at 3-3.
After a single through the left side by senior Calyn Adams, Spexarth slugged her first home run of her career with a pinch-hit bomb to right center to give MSU a 6-3 lead after four. Rebels got one run back in the bottom of the fourth, plating a run on a wild pitch.
The Rebels loaded in the bases in the bottom of fifth with no outs, Ward recorded two quick outs with a ground out at second to make the force out at home and a strikeout, but a bases-loaded walk and a two-RBI single put Ole Miss back on top 7-6.
Mississippi State loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth with back-to-back singles by Spexarth and Heimberger and an intentional walk to Davidson, but a fielder’s choice at shortstop retire the side to keep the Bulldogs off the board.
Mia Davidson continues to slug her way through the Southeastern Conference as she picked up her 15th home run of the season to jump Alyssa DiCarlo for the SEC lead. Davidson is now two home runs away from tying Courtney Bures (17) for the MSU freshman record. Her 15 home runs also tie Jessica Cooley (2012) for the third most in single-season history and is just three away from tying Iyhia McMichael for the single-season record.
Mississippi State will return to Nusz Park on Tuesday, April 17 for the final home midweek contest of the 2018 season as the Bulldogs host Memphis at 6 p.m. CT on the SEC Network +.