STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Dominant pitching performances by freshman Emily Wiliams and senior Cassady Knudsen highlighted No. 25 Mississippi State softball's Saturday sweep pf Mercer, 7-1, and Sam Houston State, 9-0, to close the second day of competition at the Bulldog Slamboree at Nusz Park.
Behind a career-high 13 strikeouts, Williams tossed her first complete game as she led MSU to a 7-1 victory over Mercer (13-5) before Knudsen tossed her third one-hitter of the season in the Bulldogs' run-rule victory over Sam Houston State (5-12).
"It was important for us to get seven full innings out of Emily Williams in the first game," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "She trudged through. She's got to learn to get her pitch number down a little bit, but it was important for her to feel that. Cassady (Knudsen) came out and threw another great game for us. The whole staff has really done a great job keeping us in games and giving us opportunities. It's fun to see freshmen to get in there and hit. We got people in to get reps, get people out of the game for rest and see good things happen for us."
Senior Reggie Harrison got the Bulldogs on the board in the first inning versus Mercer with a solo home run, her second blast of the season.
Williams and Mercer's Stella Preston traded two scoreless until Mercer evened the score in the top of the fourth. After two Williams' strikeouts, the Bears drew a two-out walk and an RBI double by Allie Jones locked the score up at 1-1.
MSU responded in the bottom of the fourth as junior Sarai Niu led off the inning with her first home run of the season with a deep shot to center field to put the Bulldogs back on top 2-1. Junior Emily Heimberger followed with a single to shortstop before senior Calyn Adams got on board with a one-out hit by pitch. Redshirt junior Bevia Robinson cleared the bases with a single up the middle to push the lead to 4-1. Back-to-back errors by the Bears allowed two more runs to score as State capped the five-run inning with a 6-1 lead.
Mercer loaded the bases in the top of the fifth with just one out after a single and two walks, but Williams responded like a veteran with a strikeout and a groundout back to her.
The final run of the game came in the bottom of the sixth as freshman Macey Petrey recorded her first collegiate hit – a home run to left field.
Williams closed the game with a career-high 13 strikeouts, her first double-digit strikeout performance of her career. She allowed just one run off five hits and six walks.
Game two featured another hot start for the State offense as all nine Bulldogs made a plate appearance in the first.
Junior Kat Moore led off the inning with a double to left field before Harrison singled up the middle, advancing on the throw to put two Bulldogs in scoring position. Niu plated the first run of the game with a single to right field before junior Emily Heimberger singled to third base to push the lead to 2-0.
Junior Carmen Carter pushed the lead to 4-0 after clearing the bases with her first double for the season before she came around to score on Adams' single to left center to give MSU a 5-0 lead after the first inning.
Moore knocked her second hit of the game as she led off the bottom of the second with a single to third base. After swiping second, Moore would score on Harrison's double to right field to push MSU's lead to 6-0.
The Bulldogs added two more runs in the bottom of the third as senior Morgan Bell led off the inning with a walk followed by a Carter single to right field. Adams knocked the second straight shot to center. Adams was thrown out trying to stretch out a double, but pinch runner freshman Grace Dabbs scored to make it 7-0 for the Bulldogs. After Robinson reached on a fielder's choice, Moore brought home the eighth run of the game with an RBI groundout to second.
Dabbs plated the final run of the game in the bottom of the fourth with her first collegiate triple, scoring freshman O'Neil Roberson, who reached on a fielder's choice.
Knudsen improved to 5-1 with her third one-hitter of the season. The right-hander struck out eight and allowed just two base runners via a walk in the top of the third.
Mississippi State closes out the Bulldog Slamboree on Sunday, March 3 with a rematch with Sam Houston State. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m. CT.
2018 BULLDOG SLAMBOREE SCHEDULE
Friday, March 2
Game One – Sam Houston State def. Mercer, 1-0
Game Two – Mercer def. Lamar, 2-1
Game Three – Mississippi State def. Lamar, 6-3
Game Four – Sam Houston State def. Alcorn State, 5-3
Saturday, March 3
Game Five – Lamar def. Mercer, 2-1
Game Six – Mississippi State def. Mercer, 7-1
Game Seven – Mississippi State def. Sam Houston State, 9-0 (5)
Game Eight – Alcorn State vs. Sam Houston State – 4:30 p.m. CT
Game Nine – Alcorn State vs. Lamar – 7:00 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 4
Game Ten – Mercer vs. Alcorn State – 9:00 a.m. CT
Game Eleven – Lamar vs. Alcorn State – 11:30 a.m. CT
Game Twelve – Mississippi State vs. Sam Houston State – 2:00 p.m. CT