GAME 1: MISSISSIPPI STATE 12, COLUMBIA 4 (6 Innings)
The Columbia softball team enjoyed strong offensive showings from first-years Kayla Shimoda, Liz Cagiano, Alix Cook and Mackensey Lakian to take a three-run lead in the fourth, but Mississippi State rallied back with 11 unanswered runs to defeat the Lions, 12-4, in six innings.
Mississippi State (12-5) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Jessica Cooley hit a single off Columbia starter Brooke Darling (1-1) up the middle to plate Brittany Bell from third base.
The Lions plated four runs in the top of the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. With one out, Caggiano singled to left center off MSU’s Shana Sherrod. Christie Taylor’s double down the left field line gave Columbia two runners in scoring position. Alix Cook drove in Caggiano with an RBI single to second base that knotted the game at 1-1. MSU swapped Sherrod for Misty Flesher in the circle and Taylor gave Columbia the lead when she scored after Kalli Schultea reached on an error in left field. Lakian followed with a double down the right field line to move Schultea to third. On a 1-0 pitch, Shimoda ripped a two-RBI double down the left field line to give the Lions command of the game.
The Bulldogs responded with seven runs in the bottom of the fourth to reclaim the lead. With runners on second and third, Jessica Offutt hit a sacrifice fly to left field to plate one run. Kaili Smith followed with a two-RBI homer to right center to even the game at 4-4. Three batters later, Heidi Shape singled up the middle to score Bell and give MSU the 5-4 lead. Sam Lenahan scored on a balk before Columbia made a pitching change, replacing Darling with Tristin Moone in the circle. Cooley followed with two-run homer to right field to give Mississippi State an 8-4 advantage.
In the fifth, MSU scored one run when Bell hit a two-out sac fly to center, bringing in Smith from third base.
Cooley opened the sixth with a solo home run to center field. Two batters later, Ashley Phillips tripled to center. Offutt plated Phillips with an RBI single up the middle to end the game.
Columbia first-years accounted for four of the Lions’ five hits. Shimoda went 1-of-2 with two RBI from the leadoff spot. Caggiano and Lakian were each 1-of-3 with one run scored. Alix Cook was 1-of-2 with one RBI. Taylor was 1-of-3 with one run scored.
Darling took the loss after striking out two and allowing four earned runs over 3.2 innings. Moon allowed three earned runs and struck out two over 1.2 innings.
Columbia closes out its stay in Starkville with a 5 p.m. (ET) game against Samford.
GAME 2: SAMFORD 13, COLUMBIA 1 (5 Innings)
Columbia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Liz Caggianio knocked a single off Samford starting pitcher Misha Aldridge through the left side to plate Emily Snodgrass from third base.
Samford (4-9) responded with two runs in the top of the second to pull ahead, 2-1. With one out, and runners on the corners, Caroline Seay doubled to right center to drive in Misha Aldridge. Rachel Bickert drove in Julianne Surane on a fielder’s choice at third base in the next at-bat.
In the bottom of the second, the Lions loaded the bases when Morgan Cook drew a two-out walk. Aldridge fanned Snodgrass to get out of the inning and leave three Columbia runners stranded.
In the top of the third, Samford tagged on five more runs to build its lead to 7-1. Robyn Harmon led off the inning with a solo homer to right field. Three batters later, Surane hit a two-out RBI single to center filed to plate Madeline Baker. Seay followed with an RBI double to left field. Columbia moved starting pitcher Kalli Schultea to DP and put Brooke Darling in the circle. Bickert hit an RBI single up the middle and Kayla Shaffer added an RBI double down the left field line.
The Bulldogs added another run in the fourth when Surane hit a two-out RBI double down the right field line.
Samford scored five runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach. With one out, Harmon hit a sac fly to left field to plate Bickert. Shelby Scott followed with an RBI single up the middle. Two batters later with the bases loaded, Surane hit an infield RBI single to third base, extending Samford’s lead to 11-1. Abby Adams scored from third on a passed ball and Seay hit an RBI double to left field. Tristin Moone relieved Darling to record the last out of the top of the fifth.
Caggiano finished 2-of-3 with one RBI. Morgan Cook was 2-of-2 with one walk and Schultea was 2-of-2.
Shultea (0-1) took the loss after allowing six earned runs over 2.2 innings. Darling struck out one and allowed one earned run (six unearned).
The Lions next face Towson for a three-game series March 10-11. Columbia then heads down to Kissimmee, Fla., from March 12-17 for the Rebel Spring Games.