TUCSON, Ariz. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Mississippi State (38-22) brought the winning run to the plate in the seventh, but the Bulldogs historic run came to a close as No. 9 Arizona held on for a 4-3 victory on Sunday in Hillenbrand Stadium to advance to Super Regionals.
Mississippi State knocked three hits, all solo home runs from freshman Mia Davidson, junior Sarai Niu and senior Carmen Carter to bring MSU's season total to 55 bombs on the year to set a new single-season team record.
Senior Holly Ward (16-10) started the regional finale, tossing six complete innings. The right-hander allowed four runs off 10 hits and two walks, while striking out five in the contest. Senior Cassady Knudsen tossed the final inning in relief, retiring the side in order and picking up a strikeout.
The bomb squad got to work early as freshman Mia Davidson and junior Sarai Niu slugged back-to-back home runs to left field to put the Bulldogs up 2-0 in the first, marking the first time MSU knocked back-to-back home runs since Julia Echols and Logan Foulks versus LSU on May 2, 2014.
It was a historic moment of another reason as Davidson picked up her 19th home run of the season, surpassing Iyhia McMichael (2003) for State's single-season record.
The Wildcats rallied back in the stop of the second, leading off with back-to-back singles and then a one-out hit by pitch to load the bases. A walk and two-RBI single by Ashleigh Hughes gave Arizona a 3-2 lead.
Senior Carmen Carter continued to put on a clinic in Tucson as she slugged a homer to left field in her first at bat of the game to lock the game up at 3-3 in the bottom of the second.
The game would remain tied until the fifth as Aleah Craighton knocked an RBI single to score the go-ahead run. Taylor McQuillian would toss 5.2 innings of relief for the Wildcats, allowing just one walk and striking out five to clinch the win.
#VANNTASTIC SEASON OF FIRSTS
The 2018 campaign featured a number of first for the program under the helm of head coach Vann Stuedeman and some feats the program hasn't reached in decades. The Bulldogs picked up their first SEC tournament win since 2005 before going on to play on championship Sunday in a regional for the first time since 2005.
As a team the Bulldogs set records in total home runs (55) and shutouts (19); while Holly Ward (9) set the single-season record for shutouts and Mia Davidson set the single-season record for home runs (19) over the final weekend of the season.
TUCSON REGIONAL RESULTS
Friday, May 18
G1: North Dakota State def. Mississippi State, 5-4
G2: No. 9 Arizona def. St. Francis, 1-0
Saturday, May 19
G3: No. 9 Arizona def. North Dakota State, 6-0
G4: Mississippi State def. St. Francis, 11-5
G5: Mississippi State def. North Dakota State, 12-0
Sunday, May 20
G6: No. 9 Arizona def. Mississippi State, 4-3