State blanks UT Martin in softball

MSU pitcher Cassady Knudsen
Staff Writer

Another day on the softball field for competition led to another shutout for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
After five games of the 2018 season, MSU has yet to allow a run to an opponent.
Cassady Knudsen did the trick in the circle on Thursday as she took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Bulldogs finished with a 3-0 victory over the UT Martin Skyhawks at Nusz Park.
The only hit Knudsen ended up giving up was a one-out single in the seventh frame. Her latest performance came one week after nearly getting a perfect game against Omaha.
MSU softball coach Vann Stuedeman said being so close to a no-hitter and a perfect game already this season will help Knudsen in pressure situations moving forward.

“It’s a good experience for her for when it may not be a no-hitter she’s trying to grab, but a winning run on third and we have to make a good pitch to get an out,” Stuedeman said. “It’s good for her to feel that type of pressure and I think it will pay off in the long run.”

Knudsen (2-0) faced 23 batters and recorded 10 strikeouts.

In 12 innings this season, Knudsen has only given up two hits and struck out 23.

Knudsen said her teammates have been an encouragement and that has been getting her through outings.

“The defense was behind me and everyone was pumping me up,” Knudsen said. “They were saying ‘good job Cassady’ the whole time. They were telling me I could do it and they gave me so much confidence. I’m so confident with them behind me.”

Knudsen and UT Martin hurler Caitlin Karo were locked in a scoreless duel for three innings until the Bulldogs broke through in the fourth.

Mia Davidson and Reggie Harrison led off the frame with back-to-back singles to open the frame, then Sarai Niu delivered an RBI double to plate Davidson.

In the fifth, MSU added two more runs with two outs. Kat Moore doubled, then Davidson drove her home with a triple. Harrison had the third extra base hit of the inning with a double to drive in Davidson.

“Kat Moore sparked it and we just followed behind,” Davidson said. “Everybody was there and we just hit like we needed to.”

Davidson and Harrison had two hits each as the Bulldogs had seven as a team.

Stuedeman was impressed with the Skyhawks and the ability of Karo in the circle.

“Their pitcher had a really good mix and she too was hitting her spots,” Stuedeman said. “You could tell they came in here and felt like they had a good shot at winning the game. They played hard and really looked good at the plate. They pitched well and played some great defense.”

The game was the first of MSU's "No One Fights Alone" series. The Bulldogs wore teal uniforms in honor of freshman outfielder Alex Wilcox, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during her junior year of high school. The team will wear teal in every midweek outing this season and will be sending messages of encouragement to local community members that are also battling cancer.

Wilcox was able to make her debut for State with an at-bat against UT Martin in the sixth inning.

MSU (5-0) looks forward to getting more games in this weekend as the February Freezer is staged at Nusz Park. The Bulldogs host Murray State at 3 p.m. and Drake at 5:30 p.m. Friday, while Drake and Murray State face each other to start the event at 12:30 p.m.