Mississippi State needed extra innings to pull off the first upset of the SEC Softball Tournament, defeating 6-seed LSU, 7-4, in a first-round matchup Wednesday in Gainesville, Florida.
The 11-seed Bulldogs broke open a 4-4 game with three runs in the top of the ninth inning toe secure the victory.
Earlier, Mississippi State appeared to be in control until a late rally by the favored Tigers.
Shea Moreno gave Mississippi State the early lead with a two-run homer in the top of the first, scoring Mia Davidson, who had singled.
LSU returned the favor in the bottom of the second, as Morgan Smith followed a double by Shelbi Sunseri with a two-out, two-run homer of her own to tie it, 2-2.
The game did not stay tied for long.
In the top of the third, Mississippi State tacked on two more runs. Chloe Malau’ulu contribured an RBI single and later came around to score herself on a RBI double by Paige Cook.
Annie Willis was terrific in the circle for the Bulldogs through the first 5.1 innings, but she was pulled in the bottom of the sixth inning after throwing 93 pitches.She left the game with a 4-2 lead and runners on first and second with one out.
Kenley Hawk came in and got Mississippi State out of the sixth-inning jam, but ran into trouble the following inning as she tried to close the game out.
Foloowing a walk to Savannah Stewart, Danieca Coffey drilled a Hawk pitch off the right-field wall for a double with one out in the bottom of the seventh, placing runners on second and third. Ciarra Briggs followed with a hard groundball up the middle for a single that scored both runners, tying the game at 4-4.
Hawk escaped the inning without allowing further damage, but that sent the content into extra innings.
Ali Kilponen was outstanding in relief for LSU as a well after replacing starter Sunseri in the third inning. Kilponen retired 14 batters in a row until giving up a walk and a two-out single to Madisyn Kennedy in the eighth, putting Mississippi State runners on first and third. Kilponen then induced Matalsi Faapito to fly out to end the inning.
Aspen Wesley came on in relief of Hawk for Missisippi State with two on and no outs in the eighth. She struck out three of the next four batters, giving up only a two-out walk, to escape and set up the winning Bulldogs’ rally in the top of the ninth.
That was when Mississippi State finally got to Kilponen.
Mia Davidson broke the tie with an RBI single, followed by another RBI single by Moreno and a sarifice fly by Malau’ulu, making it 7-4 Bulldogs.
Mississippi State moves on to the quarterfinals to face 3-seed Tennessee at Noon ET Thursday in a game that will be televised by SEC Network.