STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - Slugging six home runs over Friday’s night doubleheader lineup, Mississippi State softball (17-5) knocked off Mississippi Valley State and Louisiana Tech to open the Bulldog Slamboree at Nusz Park.
Junior Candace Denis led the way both at the plate and in the circle for the Bulldogs against the Devilettes (2-14) as State claimed a 15-0 victory in five innings. Denis tossed a one-hit shutout while also 2-for-3 with four RBIs behind the first home run of her career. Denis closed Friday’s doubleheader going 4-for-6 with five RBIs.
It was the home run power that lifted MSU to 7-4 triumph over the Lady Techsters (15-6) as the Bulldogs knocked three no-doubters to secure the come-from-behind victory.
Over Friday’s slate, junior Fa Leilua led the way as she closed the night going 4-for-5 with two home runs, three runs scored and three RBIs. Sophomore Mia Davidson also slugged two homers Friday night, plating a total of five runs.
The Bulldogs blew the game wide open against MVSU with a huge offensive first inning. Senior Emily Heimberger led off the game with a walk before moving herself into scoring position with a stolen base.
Mia Davidson brought home the first run of the inning with a double to center field. A couple walks would load the bases with one out for redshirt sophomore Montana Davidson made it a 2-0 score with a sacrifice fly to left field, and then a monstrous two-out rally began.
Another walk loaded the bases once again before redshirt freshman Kinsey Goelz drew the fifth walk of the inning to plate a run. Denis helped her own cause with a single through the right side to score two to extend the lead to 5-0.
In her second trip to the plate in the first inning, Heimberger singled to center to plate a couple runs. After a Mia Davidosn walk, Leilua singled to right center to score Heimberger and cap the eight-run first inning.
The 8-0 lead would hold until the bottom of the third when Mia Davidson and Leilua knocked back-to-back home runs to score a total of three runs to push the lead to 12-0.
The final runs would come in the fourth inning with pinch-hitter senior Taylor Kelly leading off with a single to short. Freshman Kayla Boseman recorded her first collegiate hit with a pinch-hit double down the left-field line to pick up her first RBI as a Bulldog. Denis would slug the first home run of her career with a two-run shot to right field to push the lead to 15-0.
Denis no-hit the Devilletes until the top of the when she gave up a one-out single to right center, but answered back with a strike out and ground to second to pick up the victory and improve to 3-0 on the season. Denis allowed just two walks and struck out seven to record her first shutout of her junior campaign.
In Friday’s night cap, the Lady Techsters struck in the top of the first using four walks and Bulldog error to score two unearned runs for the early lead.
MSU fired back in the home-half of the inning as Heimberger got on board with help of a LA Tech error and the Bulldogs would make them pay. After a fielder’s choice erased the lead runner, Leilua put two on with a hit by pitch. Denis cut the Lady Techster lead to 2-1 with an RBI single to left field.
Leilua would locked the game up in the bottom of the third with a monster home run that cleared to left field that cleared the Nusz Park video board.
The Bulldogs earned their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Denis led off the inning with a single to right and scored on senior Sarai Niu’s single in the gap to left center to take a 3-2 lead. MSU’s lead with short-lived as Louisiana Tech locked the game back up at 3-3 in the top of the fifth with help of a Jaz Crowder solo home run.
Again, MSU responded in the home-half of the inning. Kelly, representing the go-ahead run, got on board via a hit by pitch. Mia Davidson singled through the left side to get two out. The Lady Techsters recorded a fly out to right for the first out, but senior Kat Moore knocked a home run to left center just out of reach of La Tech’s centerfielder to put MSU back in front, 6-3.
Louisiana Tech cut MSU’s lead back to two runs with a solo home run from Sloan Stewartson, but freshman Grace Fagan enter the game in relief to force a ground ball to shortstop to retire the side and limit the damage.
Mia Davidson continued to rake with a solo home run in the bottom to center field to plate an insurance run.
Fagan allowed a lead-off walk in the top of the seventh, but recorded two strikeouts and a pop-up to third base to record her second save of the season.
Sophomore Emily Williams earned the victory as she improved to 5-2 on the season. Williams allowed four runs, only two earned off two hits and eight walks. She struck out seven in the contest.
The Bulldogs will round out the tournament on Sunday, March 10 with another doubleheader slate. MSU will take on Louisiana Tech at 1:30 p.m. CT before closing the weekend at 4 p.m. CT against Mississippi Valley State.
BULLDOG SLAMBOREE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE /RESULTS Friday, March 8 Game One – Mississippi State def. Mississippi Valley State, 15-0 [5 innings] Game Two – Mississippi State def. Louisiana Tech, 7-4 Sunday, March 10 Game Three – Mississippi Valley State vs. Louisiana Tech – 11 a.m. CT Game Four – Louisiana Tech vs. Mississippi State – 1:30 p.m. CT Game Five – Mississippi Valley State vs. Mississippi State – 4 p.m. CT
“Thunder and Lightning” struck once again at Nusz Park as Mia Davidson and Fa Leilua each tallied two home runs during MSU’s doubleheader. The pair has now combined for 26 of MSUs’ 31 home runs hit this season.
Davidson now has 14 home runs to her credit, which tied Kellie Wilkerson (2001) for fifth in MSU single-season history. Leilua’s 12 home runs is good for ninth place on the single-season charts. Davidson set MSU’s single-season record as freshman last season with 19.
Davidson now has 33 career home runs to her credit and is just four shy of tying Caroline Seitz (2014-2017) and Iyhia McMichael (2001-04) for second place. WATCH LIVE Sunday’s doubleheader will be streamed lived on the SEC Network + with Anthony Craven and MSU softball alumna Morgan Bell on the call.
LIVE STATS Mississippi State will provide live stats for all nine contests of The Bulldogs Slamboree. Live stats can be accessed by visiting www.msu.statbroadcast.com.