There were two surprises for the Mississippi State softball team during its season-opener Thursday night.
The first for the Bulldogs was the quality outing delivered by transfer Alison Owens in the circle, but the other was the offense being held to four hits by the South Alabama duo of Farish Beard and Hannah Campbell.
After taking an early 2-0 lead at the MSU Softball Stadium, the Bulldogs lost a 3-2 decision in the first game of the Kickoff Classic.
State softball coach Vann Stuedeman was disappointed with the loss, but realizes it came against a quality opponent.
"We had a lot of quality at-bats, but it just didn't fall our way," Stuedeman said. "We definitely fought, battled and battled hard. South Alabama is a good team. They went to postseason last year and were in Alabama's regional. They've got two great pitchers and they did a fantastic job."
Beard went the first four innings for the Jaguars and gave up both runs, while Campbell went the final three and only surrendered one hit.
The Bulldogs struck for their only two runs in the first inning.
After a walk to Jessica Offutt, an illegal pitch sent her to second base and Sam Lenahan hit the first home run of the season out to left to put MSU up 2-0 in the first inning.
"What a great at-bat by Sammy to get us off like that in the first inning," Stuedeman said. "She really hit a nice shot over the left-field wall and it was really a pretty home run. It put us up early, but unfortunately it wasn't enough."
South Alabama plated a pair of runs to tie the game at 2-2, then Blair Johnson hit a solo home run off Owen in the sixth frame for the difference.
Those were the only hiccups in an otherwise sparkling outing for Owen.
The transfer from Georgia went the distance, gave up three runs on three hits, struck out nine and did not walk a batter.
"Anytime you don't have an freebies, (that means) she threw well," Stuedeman said. "They hit a home run, but it was a well-placed pitch in on her hands and the kid made a great swing on the ball. It was a great hit and sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the hitter. A.O. did a great job."
Other than Lenahan's homer, the other hits for the Bulldogs were a single each by Heidi Shape, Ashley Phillips and Jessica Cooley.
MSU takes on Troy to close today's second day of the Kickoff Classic at 6:30 p.m.