Becker's no-hitter gives MSU second-straight sweep vs. Ole Miss

By hailstate.com

STARKVILLE. – Senior left-hander Stephanie Becker tossed her second career no-hitter as the Mississippi State softball team (27-14, 6-9 SEC) routed arch-rival Ole Miss (21-26, 2-16 SEC), 8-0, in six innings Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Stadium. The 15th no-hitter in school history (second in conference play) gave MSU its second-straight sweep against the Rebels and improved the Bulldogs’ winning streak in the series to eight games.

“Stephanie was as sharp as a tack today and barely missed anything we called,” said Head Coach Vann Stuedeman, who upped her record to a flawless 12-0 against in-state opponents. “She is a gutsy player and was on point today.”

Becker threw 77 unhittable pitches in her domination of the Rebels, becoming the fourth pitcher in school history to record multiple no-hitters. The southpaw struck out four and allowed only one baserunner (third-inning walk) in her second complete-game of the season. Becker’s no-no also marked the 26th career no-hitter coached by Stuedeman, as well as the 235th career shutout for the dugout general.

“You can’t have a no-hitter without great defense, and our defense was awesome today,” Becker said. “Everyone had my back as always and Vann called a great game as usual.”

Offensively, junior catcher Sam Lenahan went 1-for-1 with two runs, a walk and an RBI, finishing the weekend sweep with a .600 batting average and a .750 on-base percentage. Fellow junior Heidi Shape finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, giving her 12 RBIs in her last six games against Ole Miss. Redshirt sophomore Julia Echols (1-for-2) also knocked in two, while senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-2, run) and sophomore Erika Gaul (0-for-1) drove in one run each. Junior Jessica Offutt led off for MSU and went 2-for-3 with a run scored.

The Bully Bombers pounded out seven of their eight runs in the first two frames, including a four-run opening inning. Offutt took first base with a leadoff walk and advanced to second when Cooley joined her on the base paths thanks to catcher’s interference. With runners on first and second, Stuedeman called for the double steal. Offutt slid in safely at third, but scored when the throw to third rolled into left field. Cooley moved to third on the error and was joined on the corners when Lenahan drew her team-leading 37th walk of the season. Junior Logan Foulks then made it to first on a fielder’s choice when Cooley was tagged out at home on a 5-2 putout.

Two runners stood on the bag for redshirt sophomore Briana Bell, who singled up the middle to load the bases. Shape gave MSU its second run of the day with a single to right, driving in Lenahan. The Bulldogs scored their final two runs of the first stanza when Echols hit a two-out single, scoring both Foulks and Bell.

State added three more runs in the second, the first of which came on Cooley’s fifth home run of the year. The Birmingham Bomber’s solo shot to straightaway center field was followed by Lenahan getting hit by a pitch and advancing to second on an illegal pitch. Foulks walked and Bell singled yet again to put a runner on every base. Just like the first inning, Shape drove in Lenahan with a single. Gaul then pinch hit for senior Shelby Fisher, and proceeded to record her first career RBI with a groundout to shortstop, scoring Foulks.

The game-ending run in the bottom of the sixth came when Lenahan belted a first-pitch offering with no outs to deep right field, allowing speedy freshman Loryn Nichols to tag from third and score for the series-sweeping victory.