STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - With help of junior Alyssa Loza’s perfect game performance in the circle, No. 24 Mississippi State softball (4-0) continued to roll through the Bulldog Kickoff Classic field, picking up two victories over Valparaiso (0-4) Saturday at Nusz Park.
Sophomore catcher Mia Davidson slugged the first grand slam of her career to help Mississippi State to an 8-3 victory over the Crusaders to open Saturday’s slate. In her first career start in the Maroon and White, Loza tossed just the third perfect game in Mississippi State softball history as State blanked Valparaiso, 10-0, in five innings.
Junior left fielder Fa Leilua turned in another impressive day at the plate for MSU as she recorded five RBI and slugged two home runs against the Crusaders. Senior centerfielder Kat Moore tallying three hits Saturday, including two triples, and scored two runs and collected three RBI.
After working out of a jam in the top of the first inning of game one, MSU responded in the home half of the inning. After Davidson got aboard via a hit by pitch and Leilua walked, senior first baseman Sarai Niu singled through the right side to plate the first run of the game.
State broke through in the bottom of the second, leading off the inning with three straight singles by the bottom of the order to load the bases for Mia Davidson. The younger Davidson sister did miss the opportunity slugging the first grand slam of her career with a bomb to left field to push MSU’s lead to 5-0. Her sister, redshirt sophomore Montana Davidson knocked an RBI single to left to cap State’s five-run second inning.
Valparaiso capitalized on three Mississippi State errors in the third inning to plate two unearned runs, cutting the Bulldog lead to 6-2. The score would hold until the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single by Moore and a sacrifice fly by Leilua.
The Crusaders loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seven with help of two walks and a single. A bases-loaded walk cut the Bulldog lead to 8-3, but sophomore Emily Williams responded with a strikeout and line out to secure the win.
Junior Candace Denis earned her first victory of the season. She allowed two unearned runs off three hits and a walk, while striking out three. Williams picked up the save, pitching the final three innings of the contest. Williams allowed one run off one hit and four walks, while striking out six.
MSU’s flexed its offense during the second game against the Crusaders. The Bulldogs took control in the first inning, playing an unearned run off a Valpo error, but it was the second inning that State’s bats came alive.
After a single by junior outfielder Christian Quinn and a double by Heimberger, senior shortstop Bevia Robinson cleared the bases with a perfectly palced double in deep left field. Mia Davidson drew a walk to put two on for Moore, who cleared the bases once more with a triple to deep center. Leilua would then put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with a two-run homer to center.
The Bulldogs would add three runs in the bottom of the third with a sacrifice squeeze by Moore and Leilua’s second homer of the contest to extend MSU’s lead to 10-0.
In her first Bulldog start, Loza retired 15 consecutive batters to record the perfect game. She struck out four in the outing and force eight groundouts and three fly outs. The win and shutout were the firsts of her Bulldog career.
The Bulldogs return to the field Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT to face the winner of No. 2 seed Stephen F. Austin and No. 3 Middle Tennessee for the Bulldog Kickoff Classic Championship. The contest will be aired on the SEC Network +.
With just 64 games under her belt, Mia Davidson has skyrocketed into MSU’s career home run record book with her 21st career dinger during Saturday’s doubleheader slate. Davidson now holds eighth place in MSU career history outright. The bomb was the 37th grand slam in MSU history and the first of Davidson’s career.
With her back-to-back home runs against the Crusaders, Fa Leilua becomes the first Bulldog to hit two home runs in the same game since Caroline Seitz hit two against Georgia on April 14, 2017.
With Alyssa Loza’s perfect game, Mississippi State has now tossed 21 no-hitters in program history. The perfect game was the third in program history and the first since Holly Ward tossed a perfect game against Mississippi Valley State to open the 2018 season on Feb. 9.
2019 Bulldog Kickoff Classic Schedule/Results
Friday, Feb. 8
Game 1 – Stephen F. Austin def. Valparaiso, 6-2
Game 2 – Middle Tennessee def. Valparaiso, 4-1
Game 3 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. Middle Tennessee, 8-2
Game 4 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. Stephen F. Austin, 3-0
Saturday, Feb. 9
Game 5 – Stephen F. Austin def. Middle Tennessee, 7-1
Game 6 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. Valparaiso, 8-3
Game 7 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. Valparaiso, 10-0 (5 inn.) Game 8 - 2 Seed vs. 3 Seed - 5:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Feb. 11
Game 9 – Valparaiso vs. loser of Stephen F. Austin/Middle Tennessee – 11 a.m. CT
Game 10 – No. 24 Mississippi State def. winner of Stephen F. Austin/Middle Tennessee – 1:30 p.m. CT