@MemphisSoftball Can't Hold Off Mississippi State Late Comeback
March 1, 2014
GULFPORT, Miss. -Mississippi State allowed a season high in runs and hits but overcame a 2-0 deficit to the University of Memphis as the Tigers fell 3-2 on Saturday in the Gulf Coast Softball Classic.
The Bulldogs hadn't allowed more than a run or five hits through the team's first 16 games of the season and are off to a 16-1 start with the only loss being a 1-0 extra-inning defeat to No. 12 Baylor. But Memphis tagged starter Alexis Silkwood with two runs in the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Silkwood (4-0), a freshman southpaw, came into the game with just one run allowed in 31.2 innings pitched. A double by freshman Calli Irvin with sophomore Hannah Harrell on third snapped Silkwoods scoreless streak of 30.2 innings and gave Memphis the lead. Freshman Haleigh Ross added a RBI single to right to bring in pinch runner Ijiah Hargrove for the second run.
"We knew Mississippi State was coming into the game at 15-1 and hadn't allowed more than a run a game this year," said Memphis head coach Natalie Poole. "We knew it was going to be a battle, and we set some goals for us throughout the game to be aggressive and to do what nobody else had done."
Mississippi State (16-1) chipped away at the Memphis lead, scoring a run in the fifth and then tying it with a solo homer to lead off the sixth. The Bulldogs scored the go-ahead winning run in the top of the seventh on a two-out double to left by Mackenzie Toler that scored Olivia Golden from first after a diving attempt by sophomore Wheeler Hill.
"It really showed that we can play with anybody they throw at us," said freshman pitcher Christian Novak. "We can compete with the best in the nation. We could have beaten them. It's a huge confidence boost for us."
Novak (3-2) suffered the loss for Memphis in the circle, allowing three runs on nine hits. Novak walked five and struck out three in the complete-game effort.
Jacey Punches (5-0) earned the victory in relief, allowing no runs on two hits and a walk. Alison Owen pitched a perfect seventh for her first save of the season.
The Tigers started eight underclassmen in the game, including five freshmen. Freshman Brittany Vaughn increased her reach base streak to 14 games with a single in the first inning. Vaughn has reached base in every Memphis game to begin her career with the mark tying for eighth in school history.
Hill increased her hitting and reach base streak to a career best five game with a single in the fifth. Harrell, Mangum and Braman also collected hits in the game for Memphis.
"I think our girls were very focused," Poole said. "I'm pleased with where they were mentally. I was pleased with their spirit. I felt like they were trying to be aggressive and trying to adjust as the game went on."
Julia Echols led Mississippi State with a 3-for-4 game at the plate with a RBI. Toler and Loryn Nichols each had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Memphis (7-7) next plays Nicholls later in the day at 6 p.m. on field four at the Gulfport Sportsplex. The Tigers close out the tournament on Sunday with a game against No. 24/25 Louisiana at 10:30 a.m.