STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Northwestern State softball team recorded its first win against a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2013 as the Lady Demons topped Mississippi State 1-0 late Friday night.
Junior pitcher Shelby Sells produced her third consecutive shutout performance as she limited the Bulldogs (13-3) to two hits.
Sells took a no-hitter through 4 1-3 innings before Katie Anne Bailey rapped a single, but NSU (12-5) kept Mississippi State out of scoring position until the sixth inning. The Bulldogs are receiving votes in the latest national softball poll, but MSU was No. 23 just a week ago.
“We challenged our kids after the first game today (a 2-1 loss to Longwood),” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “Our kids responded in a big way.
“Sells did a great job again tonight with consistent pitching, and that’s something we’ve challenged her with earlier in the year. Sidney Salmans made some great plays in center field, and so did Brittney Jones at first base. The defense played exceptionally well tonight.”
Sells, a Pflugerville, Texas, native, struck out four Bulldogs in the win. NSU had some crafty defense to keep Miss. State off the scoreboard as well, including multiple catches made at or near the outfield wall to protect the shutout. Jones snagged a line drive for an unassisted double play to end the fifth inning, erasing MSU’s first hit.
Junior Kellye Kincannon, who led off for NSU for the first time this season, produced the Lady Demons’ only run in the third inning.
Kincannon plated freshman Kaylee Isenburg with an RBI-single after Isenburg reached base with a walk. Isenburg, who was making her first career start, was bunted into scoring position by sophomore catcher Kaytie Proctor.
“We wanted to find something that lit a fire under our team,” Pickett said of shaking up the lineup. “Kellye is a great player, and it was great to have her in that spot with a runner in scoring position.
“We challenged the whole team, and we came out and had great approaches at the plate tonight.”
Jordan Rains, Micayla Sorosiak and Salmans recorded the other three NSU hits.
The win improves NSU’s all-time record against Mississippi State to 5-8, the most wins against any Power 5 opponent.
NSU returns to play in MSU’s Bulldog Slamboree on Saturday by playing Chattanooga at 10:30 a.m. and Western Kentucky at 6 p.m.