CHARLESTON, S.C. - Briana Bell hit a pair of home runs to back a strong pitching performance by Stephanie Becker as Mississippi State overcame back-to-back home runs by Charleston Southern's Stephanie Sbardella and Marci Christian as the Bulldogs pulled away with the 12-4 victory on Friday afternoon at the CSU Softball Field.
Sbardella connected on a two-run blast in the bottom of the first and Christian followed four pitched later with a shot to straightaway centerfield for her team-leading sixth home run, while Linzy Rother added an RBI double to stake CSU to a 4-0 lead, but the Bulldogs plated eight runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth to close out the win.
Charleston Southern falls to 0-4 against the Southeastern Conference this season and 5-19 overall on the season heading into Big South Conference play. The Buccaneers host Longwood University this weekend in a three game series starting tomorrow afternoon with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the CSU Softball Field.
Mississippi State runs their record to 20-6 with the win, while Becker improves her record to 6-1, throwing five innings in relief of starter Kylie Vry in recording the win. Becker allowed one hit, while striking out eight after CSU's early outburst.
Rother (2-5) suffered the loss on the mound for the Buccaneers, pitching a scoreless first three innings before the Bulldogs' bats came alive in the fourth in going 3.2 innings and allowing eight runs (five earned). Hayes Holdsworth closed out the game for CSU throwing the final 1.1 innings in relief, allowing four hits and four runs (one earned) in the contest.
After Rother retired the Bulldogs in the top of the first, Charleston Southern struck for four runs in building the early lead.
Trea Steele led off getting hit by a pitch and Sbardella followed with a two-run shot, clearing the fence in left field for her fourth home run of the season. Christian followed four pitches later with a blast hitting the barrier fence beyond the flag pole in centerfield to put CSU up 3-0. Jana Matthews continued the Buccaneers hit train in the inning, reaching on an error by the MSU third baseman, advancing to second on the play. Five pitches later, Rother connected on a double in the left centerfield gap, plating Matthews to give CSU a commanding 4-0 lead.
On the mound, Rother cruised through the first three innings, allowing four runners, but none past second base to keep the Bulldogs' offense at bay.
Mississippi State broke through in the top of the fourth, sending 14 batters to the plate in scoring eight runs in taking the 8-4 lead.
Bell plated the first MSU runs of the game, connecting on a two-run shot scoring Jessica Cooley to put the Bulldogs on the board. Sam Lenahan added a two-run triple later in the inning, while Jessica Offutt, Heidi Shape, Shelby Fisher and Erin Nesbit added RBI during the frame to stake Becker to the lead.
Natalie Yonan provided excitement for the Buccaneers in the bottom half of the inning, connecting on a one-out blast off the top of the fence, narrowly missing out on her first collegiate home run before settling on second for the double. Steele followed with a walk to put two runners on, but the Bucs were unable to capitalize in being held scoreless in the inning.
The Bulldogs plated four more in the fifth to close out the scoring in the contest as Logan Foulks doubled in Lenahan, while Bell connected on a three-run home run to put Mississippi State ahead 12-4.
In their final at-bat, CSU was unable to record a hit in going down in order to close out the contest.