Mississippi State Softball's season comes to an end in Palo Alto regional

After winning their first game, Mississippi State softball dropped two on Saturday to be eliminated from the postseason.
Mississippi State   s Aspen Wesley (28) throws a pitch during a  Lady Vols softball game against
Mississippi State s Aspen Wesley (28) throws a pitch during a Lady Vols softball game against / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA

Mississippi State softball saw its 2024 season come to an end late Saturday night, or technically, very early Sunday morning for those of in Mississippi. After winning their first game in the Palo Alto regional Friday night, the 2-seed Bulldogs dropped two games on Saturday to be eliminated from the postseason.

High-level pitching was the theme in Palo Alto. The starting pitching of the regional's top-three seeds ranged from great to flat-out elite. Pitcher's duels were to be expected, and that's exactly how things played out.

State opened the regional against 3-seed Cal State Fullerton. MSU's All-SEC ace Aspen Wesley took the mound for a showdown against Big West Pitcher of the Year Haley Rainey. Wesley had a fantastic outing, throwing a complete game shutout.

Rainey was also outstanding, yielding just two hits the entire game. But one of those hits proved to be the difference, as in the bottom of the 4th, Matalasi Faapito hit a double down the right field line to score Sierra Sacco. The Bulldogs prevailed 1-0 to move into the winner's bracket.

Saturday afternoon, MSU faced off with regional host and #8 national seed Stanford, led by the nation's most dominant pitcher, NiJaree Canady. MSU started Wesley, once again, and another pitcher's duel was underway.

A throwing error on a bunt to put a runner a second followed by a double put the Cardinal up 1-0 in the bottom of the 2nd. They'd follow that up with a solo shot in the 3rd to take a 2-0 lead.

But State would respond in the next inning, with leadoff hitter Sierra Sacco hitting a homer to straight-away center to not only cut the deficit to 2-1, but give State their first hit and baserunner of the game. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that was all they could muster.

Delainey Everett relieved Wesley with three scoreless innings of work, but beyond Sacco's homer, State largely couldn't touch Canady. The hard-throwing righty surrendered just three hits and one walk while striking out 13 in another truly dominant performance, and State fell 2-1.

With the loss, MSU was forced into late-night action for an elimination game rematch with Fullerton. Josey Marron took the mound for MSU with Haley Rainey once again starting for the Titans. Marron managed to navigate things with baserunners on during the first two innings, and then recorded quick outs in both the 3rd and 4th. She was not as fortunate in the 5th.

After a groundout opened the bottom of the 5th, Fullerton's Megan Delgadillo singled. She then looked to steal second and was initially called out. But after review, she was declared safe. A hit by pitch and another single would load the bases. Two more hits would bring in three runs for the Titans.

Marron was pulled for Aspen Wesley, but momentum stayed with Fullerton. A single would load the bases yet again, and then Fullerton's Colby McClinton hit a deep shot to left. Grand Slam, 7-0 Cal State Fullerton.

MSU's own lineup continued the struggles they had in their first two games of the regional, but this time, they failed to plate a single run. It was the third time the squads met during the 2024 season. State had won the first two, but apparently, third time was the charm for the Titans. State's season came to an end.

It was a disappointing finish to an otherwise promising year for Bulldog softball. Fifth-year coach Sam Ricketts' team greatly outperformed preseason expectations after a poor 2023 season, putting together State's best SEC finish since 2008.

Climbing the ladder in the SEC and college softball as a whole is a gauntlet, but this program is trending positively. The trajectory is strong for Mississippi State softball.