TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - With the game locked at 9-9 in the 10th inning, senior Kat Moore knocked a three-run home run to lift Mississippi State softball (22-12, 2-7 SEC) to a 12-9 victory over #4/4 Alabama (36-2, 7-2 SEC) to prevent the swept Sunday at Rhoads Stadium.
Trailing by five runs, Alabama strung together a nine-run fourth inning to take its lone lead of the game, but the Bulldogs scored four unanswered to lock the game up at 9-9. Junior Christian Quinn helped force extra innings with a home-run robbing grab in the bottom of the sixth.
The two squads traded three innings scoreless innings before Moore delivered her game-winning home run in the top of the 10th inning. The victory was Mississippi State’s first in Tuscaloosa since 2013.
Senior Emily Heimberger turned in her third multi-hit performance against Alabama as she went 4-for-6 at the plate, setting a career-high for hits. Junior Fa Leilua also set a career-high with four hits on Sunday, slugging two doubles. More went 3-for-4 at the plate with a career-high six RBIs.
Sophomore Emily Williams (6-3) tossed 8.1 innings, including eight shutout innings against Alabama, to secure the win. She gave up five unearned runs off five hits and worked around 14 walks in the victory, while striking out five.
With the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the 10th, freshman Grace Fagan came into the circle and recorded a strikeout, fly out to left and a foul out at third base to record her third save of the season.
Mississippi State jumped to a hot start with three straight singles to centerfield to load the bases with no outs. Moore singled to right field to drive home two runs before Alabama’s right fielder KB Sides overran the ball allowing a third run to score and Moore to advance to third. Junior Candace Denis brought home the fourth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center.
A two-rally in the top of the second extended the Bulldog lead to 2-0. Heimberger sparked it with a single to right field before sophomore Mia Davidson brought home the run with a double down the left-field line.
The Bulldogs would hold on to their 5-0 lead until the bottom of the fourth where Alabama plated nine runs off eight hits and two MSU errors. Bailey Hemphill knocked the game-tying hit with an RBI single up the middle before Regan Dykes slugged a three-run home run to put the Tide out in front.
MSU answered in the top of the fifth as Leilua led off the rally with a one-out double to left. An Alabama error at second base put runners on the corners for the Bulldogs. Redshirt sophomore Montana Davidson singled to shortstop to pick up an RBI before the Bulldogs brought home two off of a second Alabama error at second base to slice Alabama’s lead to 9-8.
Heimberger sparked a huge Bulldog rally in the top of the sixth, picking up her third single of the game with a shot to left field. After Mia Davidson got on board via a hit by pitch, Leilua singled down the left field line to load up the bases. Senior Kat Moore locked the game up at 9-9 with an RBI single through the left side.
The Tide looked to go back in front in the bottom of the sixth with a long shot to right field from Skylar Wallace, but Quinn scaled the wall to rob the home run to keep us locked at 9-9. The catch proved the difference as a scoreless seventh by both squads forced the second extra-inning game of the weekend series.
After three scoreless innings, the Bulldogs rallied in the 10th with Heimberger leading off with a single up the middle before Mia Davidson singled to center to put to on board. Leilua flied out to left for the first out, but Moore came through with the home run shot to left center.
Alabama got the winning run to the plate after three consecutive walks led off the bottom of the 10th, forcing MSU to make a pitching change and bring Fagan into the circle. Fagan recorded the strikeout before forcing a fly ball to left and a foul out to third base to record the save.
QUOTING KAT MOORE
“All weekend we’ve been talking about fighting back, keep throwing punches, and that’s what we did today. We never went away.”
Mississippi State rounds out its five-game road swing on Wednesday, April 3 with a neutral site contest versus Jacksonville State. MSU will meet the Bulldogs in Huntsville, Ala., on the campus of the University of Alabama at Huntsville. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. CT.
ALABAMA SERIES SCHEDULE
Friday, March 29
Game One – No. 4/4 Alabama def. Mississippi State, 3-2 (8 inn.)
Saturday, March 30
Game Two – No. 4/4 Alabama def. Mississippi State, 8-2
Sunday, March 31
Game Three – Mississippi State def. Mississippi State, 12-9 (10 inn.)