Bulldogs Win In Walk-Off Fashion Against Central Arkansas
STARKVILLE – For the second time this season, Paige Cook delivered a walk-off victory in Nusz Park as Mississippi State defeated Central Arkansas, 4-3, on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs (19-15, 0-9 SEC) trailed, 3-2, entering the bottom of the seventh. Chloe Malau’ulu drew a leadoff walk and Fa Leilua joined her after a strikeout. Carter Spexarth hit a line drive into center field to score Malau’ulu, and Cook hit a ground ball to first that allowed pinch runner Allison Florian to score the game-winning run.
“We have put a lot of focus these last few weeks on really doing the small things right and being able to execute while not getting too big in tense moments,” head coach Samantha Rickettssaid. “I thought they did a really good job of that – from Carter [Spexarth] to Paige [Cook], Alli [Florian] with the baserunning and even Chloe [Malau’ulu] leading off the 7th inning with a walk. I think we’re really getting them to buy into the message of what the process looks like and taking each pitch and each moment one at a time while not trying to do it all in one swing.”
Two big swings were enough to get the Bulldogs back in the ballgame. Mia Davidson and Leilua hit back-to-back homers for the fourth time this year to tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth. State has now gone 4-1 all-time when the pair hits consecutive long balls.
Annie Willis tossed a complete game, striking out nine. The game marks MSU’s sixth come-from-behind victory of the year and its fifth walk-off win.
Samantha Ricketts on what her team can take from today’s game:
“I think it’s something we can build off of if we can continue to build with that momentum. We had a little bit of that at North Alabama over the weekend and then the falter on Monday. We just talk about the peaks and valleys of it and being able to ride it out. Especially right now with our strength of schedule being No. 11 in the country, knowing that we’re going to have a lot of true, tough road games. If we can continue to weather the storm and do what we need to be doing, we’re going to set ourselves up well down the stretch as we finish the season.”
Samantha Ricketts on Paige Cook’s last at-bat:
“That was big time, especially after she left the bases loaded earlier in the game, for her to not dwell on the earlier at-bat. Then she started off that last at-bat swinging at a pitch out of the zone, so it was really good to see her regather herself and know exactly what we were looking to do, which was have a team at-bat and knowing that a ground ball to the right side gives us a chance to score, really anything in play with how much speed we have on the bases. I really liked the way she recentered, gathered herself and played situationally, which is something we work on a lot.”
Paige Cook on her last at-bat:
“I was just looking to hit the ball hard on the ground, especially on the right side because we work on that in practice a lot. We have this point game that we like to work, and I was just trying to keep it simple and hit the ball on the ground.”
Mia Davidson on Carter Spexarth’s game-tying RBI:
“Carter has been hot all season. That’s something you expect from her. She did her job and she got it done, so that’s all that matters.”
Paige Cook – Brought home the winning run on a fielder’s choice and throwing error … Game marked her second walk-off plate appearance this season (bases-loaded walk against Miami [Ohio]).
Mia Davidson – Passed Will Clark (61) for second in MSU baseball and softball history with her 62nd career home run … Needs five homers to match Rafael Palmeiro (67) for the MSU record … Needs three more home runs to enter the SEC softball all-time top five … Delivered two hits and is now just three hits shy of 200 for her career.
Allison Florian – Came on as a pinch runner at first base … Went first-to-third on Spexarth’s single … Scored the game-winning run on Cook’s ground ball to first.
Fa Leilua – Hit her team-leading 12th home run … Has now hit 43 homers as a Bulldog and sits one away from second in school history behind Mia Davidson (62) and Kellie Wilkerson (44) … Drew two walks and leads the nation with 32 this year.
Jenna Wildeman reached on a fielder’s choice as the lead runner was thrown out at second. She stole second and scored on a single to center field by Mary Kate Brown.
Central Arkansas 1, Mississippi State 0
Jaylee Engel homered to center field.
Central Arkansas 2, Mississippi State 0
Mia Davidson and Fa Leilua hit back-to-back solo home runs.
Central Arkansas 2, Mississippi State 2
Wildeman stole second after a single to shortstop. Mary Kate Brown walked. Wildeman scored on a Kaylyn Sheperd single to right field.
Central Arkansas 3, Mississippi State 2
Chloe Malau’ulu walked. Malau’ulu was pushed to second when Leilua walked. Allison Florian pinch ran for Leilua. Malau’ulu scored on a single to center field by Carter Spexarth. Allison Florian advanced to third, and Spexarth took second when the throw from center field was off target. Paige Cook hit a ground ball to first base, and the throw came home. The throw was wild, and Allison Florian slid in safely.
Central Arkansas 3, Mississippi State 4
The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to host No. 16 Tennessee on April 9-11, but that series has been postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test and subsequent contact tracing in the Tennessee program. MSU is searching for games to be added to this weekend’s schedule.
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