DURHAM, N.C. (WLBT) - In three tightly contested contests at the Duke Softball Complex, Mississippi State softball (14-5) picked up victories over Kansas and Duke to round out action at the Duke Invitational.
MSU opened the three-game slate behind the home run power of sophomore Mia Davidson to knock off Kansas (3-12) with a 6-3 final. The Bulldogs needed extra innings to pick up a 3-2 victory over Duke (6-11), but senior Sarai Niu delivered the walk-off hit for State’s second victory of the day.
Davidson led the Bulldogs at the plate over Saturday’s three-game slate. Davidson closed Saturday going 6-for-11 (.545) with one double, two home runs, two runs scored and six RBI. She held a 1.182 slugging percentage to lead the team.
In the circle both junior Alyssa Loza and freshman Grace Fagan picked up victories. Sophomore Emily Williams carried the bulk of the work in the circle, tossing 8.2 innings. She struck out 13 and held a team-low 1.62 ERA.
In a continuation of Friday’s contest against Ohio (9-7), the Bobcats knocked a two-run home run in the seventh to walk-off a 5-4 victory over the Bulldogs.
After stranding two Jayhawks in the top of the first, the Bulldogs put up a three-spot on the scoreboard to open Saturday’s opening game. In her first plate appearance of the day, Davidson slugged her 11th home run of the season to put State on the board.
With two on base after a walk to junior Fa Leilua and a single to left from senior Kat Moore, sophomore Cater Spexarth knocked a two-out single to deep center to clear the bases to give MSU a 3-0 lead after one.
The Bulldogs used small ball to push across a run in the second inning. Redshirt freshman Kinsey Goelz led off with a single to left center and moved into scoring position off a sacrifice bunt by senior Emily Heimberger. Davidson picked up her second RBI of the game with a single to left to plate Goelz.
A one-out double to right center from Shelby Gayre sparked a third-inning rally for the Jayhawks. After a Kansas single through the right side to get two on, Fagan picked up a strikeout for the second, but back-to-back, two-out RBI singles to left field for the Jayhawks scored two to cut the Bulldog lead to 4-2.
Heimberger knocked her first hit of the game with a one-out single through the right side in the fourth to turn over the Bulldog lineup and once again Davidson delivered a no-doubter to deep center for her second home run of the day and her third multi-home run game of the season to push State’s lead to 6-2.
The Jayhawks led off the top of the sixth with a triple to right field from Shelby Hughston. Hughton came home on a sacrifice fly to left to cut MSU’s lead to 6-3.
Kansas loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with a lead-off double and two walks, but Williams earned her second save of the year with a bases-loaded strikeout to secure the victory.
In State’s second contest of the day, the Bulldogs once again put up a run in the first inning with help of back-to-back doubles from Heimberger and Davidson to take a 1-0 lead over Duke.
Williams held Duke to just two hits through six shutout innings until the top of the seventh when costly errors allowed the Blue Devils to score. Leading off the inning with an error at second base and a wild pitch to move the runner at second, Duke sacrificed to move the tying run to third base.
A dropped fly ball in centerfield on a sacrifice fly allowed the Blue Devils to lock the game up at 1-1. Duke would use two more Bulldogs errors to load the bases with two outs, but Loza forced a grounder to third to end the threat.
With international tiebreaker rules coming into play in the ninth, Duke opened the inning with a base runner at second before sacrificing the go-ahead run to third. A single to left by Rachel Abboud put the Blue Devils in front 2-1
State opened the bottom of the ninth with Heimberger standing at second base. Davidson singled to left field to bring Heimbeger home to lock the game at 2-2, but Duke was able to throw Davidson out at third on the play for the first out of the inning.
Back-to-back singles by Leilua and Moore put runners on the corners for Niu, who delivered the walk-off hit with a single to right field to plate Leilua for the 3-2 victory.
MSU closed the evening by wrapping up its contest with Ohio that began on Friday before being suspended by rain. With Ohio leading 2-1, Heimberger delivered a bases-clearing double on Saturday to put the Bulldogs in front 3-2 before rain forced a suspension of play in the fifth inning.
Picking up the action on Saturday night, MSU extended its lead in the top of the sixth with a two-out rally. Pinch hitter junior Candace Denis drew a walk ahead of a single to left from Davidson.
Leilua doubled to left center to plate Denis, but the relay from the outfield was in time to prevent a second run to score.
Ohio pulled within one in the bottom of the sixth, leading off the inning with a solo home run from Charlee Pond, slicing MSU’s lead to 4-3.
The Bobcats completed the comeback in the bottom of the seventh, leading off the inning with a double to left center. Morgan Geno knocked the walk-off hit with a home run to center field.
For the third time this season, Mia Davidson turned in a multi-home run performance with two against Kansas. Davidson now has 12 through 19 games for MSU, which ranks ninth in single-season history. In her career, Davidson has slugged 31 home runs to tie Courtney Bures (2005-08) for fourth all-time in MSU history.
The Bulldogs return to Nusz Park on Tuesday, March 5 for its second midweek contest in StarkVegas as MSU takes on UT Martin. First pitch on the SEC Network + is set for 4 p.m. CT.