STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Behind by as much as four runs, No. 24 Mississippi State (35-20, 7-17 SEC) rallied, scoring two runs in the seventh, but No. 7 Tennessee held on for a 6-3 victory on Sunday at Nusz Park to clinch the series.
Despite the loss, Mississippi State clinched the 11th seed at next week's 2018 SEC Championship tournament, marking the sixth time under head coach Vann Stuedeman that the Bulldogs have advanced to the tournament.
At the plate, Mississippi State was led by junior Emily Heimberger, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Freshman Mia Davidson broke the MSU freshman record with her 18th home run of the season.
Senior Cassady Knudsen earned the start, allowing four runs off three hits and two walks as she fell to 12-9 on the season. Senior Holly Ward tossed seven innings in relief, giving up six hits, four walks and just one earned run. She struck out six in the outing.
"From freshman to senior year, this senior class has mature socially, in their softball skills and in their leadership skills," Stuedeman said, following Sunday's "Senior Day" recognition. "I credit them with the success of this team this year."
Tennessee opened the game with a four-run first inning, highlighted by a three-run home run by Chelsea Seggern, but the Bulldogs would get one back in the bottom of the third with Davidson's record-breaking solo homer to left field.
The Lady Volunteers found some breathing room in the top of the fifth with an RBI single by Scarlet McSwain before taking advantage of an MSU error to push their lead to 6-1.
Mississippi State would use a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh to make things interesting down the stretch. After loading the bases with a hit by pitch, Tennessee error and a walk, Heimberger singled to left field to plate to runs to cut the lead to 6-3, but the Lady Vols got out of the jam with a ground ball to third base to hang on for the series win.
Freshman Mia Davidson shattered a record that has stood for 13 season as she slugged her 18th home run of the season to surpass Courtney Bures (2005) for the Mississippi State freshman home run record. Davidson is now also tied with Iyhia McMichael (2003) for the Bulldogs' single-season home run record.
TENNESSEE SERIES SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Friday, May 4 - No.7 Tennessee def. No. 24 Mississippi State, 7-4
Saturday, May 5 - No. 24 Mississippi State def. No. 7 Tennessee, 10-3
Sunday, May 6 - No. 7 Tennessee def. No. 24 Mississippi State, 6-3
Mississippi State clinched the 11th seed for the 2018 SEC Championship, which will be held next week in Columbia, Mo. The Bulldogs will face sixth-seeded Texas A&M on Wednesday, May 9 at 11 a.m. CT. The contest will be televised nationally on the SEC Network.