February 10, 2014 10:46:33 AM
STARKVILLE -- Caroline Seitz may have been listening to the hype.
A lot of the Mississippi State softball team's hopes for a successful season in softball hinge on a highly-touted freshman class. Seitz, a freshman infielder from Birmingham, is part of that class.
This weekend, Seitz felt right at home as she homered in back-to-back games, helping MSU to a 5-0 start in the season-opening Bulldog Kickoff Classic. The undefeated run through the three-day event was capped by an 8-0, five-inning win over Jacksonville State Sunday at the MSU Softball Field.
"Caroline is a special player," MSU coach Vann Stuedeman said. "Every time we went to see her play during the summer, she hit a home run, so I was hoping I was her good-luck charm. When she stays smooth, she can do damage."
The Bulldogs stayed smooth and did a lot of damage en route to a second 5-0 start in the past three seasons. The six-game homestand ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday with a game against Southeastern Louisiana.
"It was good to see us play with a lot of confidence," MSU senior catcher Logan Foulks said. "There is always some unknown when you start a season. However, I could not have asked for much more from a first tournament. These will wins will push us forward with more confidence."
MSU breezed to two wins over both Jacksonville State and Northern Kentucky and another win over Mississippi Valley State. The Bulldogs won four times by the run rule and outscored their tournament competition 43-3.
"We did a great job of handling the weather," Stuedeman said. "It was nice to see the bats get hot. The whole pitching staff got to pitch. We only made one error. It is really what you wanted to see in the first couple of games. Now we will have to dig deep and continue to work hard."
In a 9-1 victory against Jacksonville State on Saturday, MSU used a seven-run fifth inning to break the game open. The Bulldogs had much more success against Jacksonville State starter Casey Akenberger and Saturday starter Tiffany Harbin when she returned to the mound in the third inning on Sunday.
Senior Jessica Offutt and junior college transfer Katie Gentle had two-run doubles in a four-run second inning. Seitz homered in the third inning and Foulks - who led the team with 13 home runs last season -- hit a massive shot one inning later.
It was not only a big weekend for newcomers in the batters' box. Newcomers Mackenzie Toler and Alexis Silkwood combined for 6 2/3 innings in the circle. All five of MSU's pitchers saw action in the tournament. Alison Owen and Jacey Punches each picked up two wins, while Silkwood earned the other.
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter