Starkville, Miss. –Mississippi State swept No. 22 Kentucky on Sunday in a home-and-away game that ended in a 7-4 win for the home team. The Bulldogs scored all of their runs on four home runs, bringing their series total to 10 long pitches.
The 10 home runs are the most the Bulldogs have ever hit in an SEC series. Today’s four were one shy of yesterday’s total which was the highest in school history against an SEC opponent.
“Hitting is contagious, and I think once we stopped putting so much extra pressure on ourselves and making every game bigger than necessary, we just felt like things slacked off and we didn’t. We were just playing our ball,” head coach Samantha Ricketts said. said. “I’m just excited for the team, for the seniors, and it was fun to see them ignite all through the lineup. It wasn’t just one person the whole weekend, which was fun to see.”
State (27-22, 6-14 SEC) allowed a run in the first inning, but Paige Cook answered it with a late-inning solo shot. Chloe Malau’ulu then hit a two-run homer in the third, and the Bulldogs would never trail again.
Kentucky (28-18-1, 8-13 SEC) scored again on wild pitch in the fifth, but Cook responded with a two-run homer down the frame. The Wildcats scored twice on a brace in the sixth, but that was matched by a two-run homer from Matalasi Faapito.
Reis Beuerlein earned his fifth win of the year by striking out four in 3.0 innings. Faapito earned his second save of the season and second of the series, pitching 2.0 innings with one strikeout.
Samantha Ricketts on her teams used to get hot towards the end of the season…
“I’m not really sure, but I think we really know how to get hot at the right time. Obviously we would have liked to do it a little earlier this year, but we’re happy to take it when it comes. I think it’s group is resilient, and I think the most important thing they understand is that if we can learn lessons throughout the year and use them to propel us forward, then we’ll be in a good position to end of the season. It’s just learning from the wins and losses throughout the season, not letting anything get too big or keep making the same mistakes. Let’s go out and take it one game at a time, one set at a time. times and let’s not try to look at the big picture too much and hopefully that’s a little pressure on us. We know we control our own destiny, and we have to keep finishing strong like we did this week-end.
Paige Cook on her recent stunt…
“I just got out and decided to keep it simple. I felt like I wanted to go back to my old swing and keep it simple and go back to the way things were and just use my swing at the instead of overdoing it.” Chloe Malau’ulu on her home run against her family on the outside deck… “Honestly, it was very poetic. I was thinking about it, like, ‘It would happen.’ But I think it couldn’t have ended better than that. What are the odds?”
Chloe Malau’ulu on pace for the team’s home run this weekend…
“I think this weekend we really left it all in the past, and we were really intentional about being confident and going into the box ready to hit and ready to swing. I think we saw that. on the first pitch on Friday. I think Nadia (Barbary) swung on the first pitch that was thrown, so I think that set the tone and really foreshadowed what was going to happen for the rest of the series. I think we were ready to strike and everyone felt that the strike was contagious, and it was really great to see.”
heavy hitters – MSU has hit 10 home runs in the series, which is the most in program history in an SEC series (since 2001) … previous record was seven, twice (LSU, April 5-7, 2019; South Carolina, May 7-8, 2005) … the Bulldogs hit five homers on Saturday, which was their highest total ever against a conference opponent, and added four more on Sunday.
All about how you end – MSU is now 12-5 in the final two weeks of the regular season under head coach Samantha Ricketts (not including the shortened 2020 season).
Senior hitters – On senior weekend, State’s four senior hitters combined to go 8 for 25 (.320) with two doubles and three homes for a .760 slugging percentage with 11 RBIs.
Aquana Brownlee – Collected two singles for his 10th multi-hit game of the year.
Paige Cook — Hit his team-leading 10th home run of the year, which is a single-season career high… now ninth in MSU career history with 22 home runs… hit .667 in the series with three homers and a double to lead the team with 14 total goals and five RBIs.
Chloe Malau’ulu – Extended his hitting streak to six games and is 8 for 18 in that span with three walks and five extra hits … hit a two-run homer … now tied with Madisyn Kennedy for 10th in MSU career history with 21 homers.
Joey Brown — Recorded strikeouts Nos. 85 and 86 this season … need six more to rank among the top five freshman totals in school history.
Summary of scores
Top 1 Erin Coffel hit a first double to center field. Kayla Kowalik then singled to center field, scoring Coffel. No. 22 Kentucky 1, Mississippi State 0
Bottom 1 Paige Cook hit a solo home run to right field. No. 22 Kentucky 1, Mississippi State 1
Bottom 3 Nadia Barbary singled to left field to start before Chloe Malau’ulu hit a two-run homer to right field. No. 22 Kentucky 1, Mississippi State 3
Top 5 Taylor Ebbs walked to open the inning and stole second base. Kennedy Sullivan chose left field, moving Ebbs to third. Erica Thulen’s pinch ran for Sullivan first. Ebbs scored and Thulen took second on wild pitch. No. 22 Kentucky 2, Mississippi State 3
Bottom 5 With one out, Malau’ulu walked. Cook then hit a two-point shot over the right field wall. No. 22 Kentucky 2, Mississippi State 5
Top 6 Jenna Blanton beat a bunt single to the pitcher with one out. Coffel walked to put the runners in first and second before Kowalik passed them at home. No. 22 Kentucky 4, Mississippi State 5
Bbottom 6 Shea Moreno drew a walk. With two outs, Matalasi Faapito hit a two-run homer left. No. 22 Kentucky 4, Mississippi State 7
On the bridge
MSU will play at Samford on May 4 at 5 p.m. ET before heading to Auburn May 5-7 for its final SEC and regular-season weekend.