COLUMBIA, Mo. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Eleventh-seeded Mississippi State (36-21) brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh, but the rally fell short as three-seeded South Carolina (44-13) held on for a 3-1 win in the second round of the SEC Championship Tournament Thursday at the Mizzou Softball Stadium.
The Bulldogs picked up four hits in the contest led by senior Carmen Carter, who went 2-for-3 and drove in the lone MSU run of the game.
Senior Holly Ward (15-7) earned the start in the circle, allowing three runs off four hits and one walk. The right-hander struck out two in the game. Senior Cassady Knudsen tossed an inning of relief, forcing two ground outs and a fly out in the sixth to leave a Gamecock runner stranded in scoring position.
The Bulldogs got a runner on base in the first three innings with MSU’s best scoring chance in the early innings coming in the top of the first. Junior Emily Heimberger led off the game with a hit by pitch before swiping second to move into scoring position, but three straight groundouts to the left side of the infield retired the side.
Ward sat down six straight until the Gamecocks led off the third inning with a hit by pitch and a single through the right side. Ward forced a ground ball back to the circle, but with no one covering third all runners were safe to load the bases with no outs.
South Carolina scored its first run of the game on a MSU fielding error, snapping nine straight shutout innings tossed by Ward over the SEC Championship tournament. After a line out to second base, junior Sarai Niu made a diving snag in foul territory, slamming into the dugout for the second out, but a run would score on the sacrifice play to give USC a 2-0 lead after three. The Gamecocks added a run in the fourth with a solo home run by Alyssa Kumiyama.
MSU rallied in the top of the seventh as senior Reggie Harrison slugged a double to left before taking advantage of a mishandled throw at second base to move to third. Carter brought her home with a two-out single to deep short, bringing the tying run to the plate, but a pop up to second snuffed out the comeback.
HEIMBERGER SNAGS ACADEMIC HONORS
During today’s contest, CoSIDA released its Google Play Academic All-District team. Junior Emily Heimberger was honored with a first team spot. Heimberger, already senior academically, holds a 3.86 GPA in biological sciences on top of making stellar plays in the outfield all season long.
Heimberger now advances to the Google Cloud Academic All-America ballot, with the first and second team honorees to be announced in June.
The Bulldogs await their postseason fate with the 2018 NCAA Selection Show, which will air on Sunday, May 13 at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN2.