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Alexis Silkwood is 5-0 with a 0.70 ERA for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Silkwood has registered 61 strikeouts in 50.1 innings, owns two shutouts and one save.
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The beat goes on for Alexis Silkwood. She’s pitching her way to success at Mississippi State the same way she spun it in a golden way at Marquette Catholic High.
The 5-foot-4 freshman left-hander from East Alton has begun for the Bulldogs the way she finished her career for the Explorers. At last glance, Silkwood was 5-0 with a 0.70 ERA for the resurgent Bulldogs, members of the Southeastern Conference.
She has registered 61 strikeouts in 50.1 innings, owns two shutouts and a save. Silkwood already has been named SEC Freshman of the Week — twice.
“It’s 100 times harder, but it’s 100 times better,” Silkwood said of adjusting to college life in general and softball in particular.
She added, “You are training for softball all the time, so it’s a day-in and day-out process. You have to love the game because it’s a grind.”
Mississippi State, which calls Starkville home, enjoyed a 20-4 getaway, its best start in six seasons. It’s a vast improvement from last year, when the Bulldogs logged a 33-24 record.
Silkwood is one of a group of promising freshmen who have revitalized the program.
“Each and every freshman is behind each other all the time,” Silkwood said. “We are a close class and already are like sisters. Each of us has a different personality that complements each other well.”
’Dogs coach Vann Studeman said Silkwood is a big part of that class – and the team’s quick turnabout.
“She has a mental toughness about her that is rare,” Studeman said. “You don’t see it all the time. When freshmen come in, we talk about being a pitcher versus a thrower. I think she is becoming more of a pitcher now.”
Silkwood, one of the most celebrated prep pitchers in IHSA history, said she’s learning to refine her game at the collegiate level. There’s constant tweaking.
“You have to be able to bounce back and make adjustments,” Silkwood said. “Everyone is bigger, faster and stronger. You are competing against players who are the best in the country, not just the best in your area.
“So there’s a lot of room for improvement and I have a long way to go.”
She added, “I’ve changed my windup a little bit and have slowed it down at the start. It’s all about getting more movement on your pitches, not the speed of them.”
During her storied high school career, Silkwood combined speedy stuff with precision control to rewrite the IHSA record book. She won a state-best 124 games, including 100 of them via shutouts. Silkwood logged 1,907 strikeouts, tops in state history and threw 54 no-hitters, another Illinois record. She also fashioned 15 perfect games, No. 2 on the all-time list.
“My high school career really went by quickly,” said Silkwood, who plans to teach and coach some day. “It’s hard to believe I’m 19 and playing college ball now. It just seems like yesterday that I was a freshman in high school.”
She’s a freshman in college and loving every minute of it in Starkville, Miss., about eight hours from the River Bend.
“This school is perfect for me,” she said. “There’s a lot of Southern hospitality and charm here. I’m even starting to say ‘You all.’”
If she is becoming a Southerner, it’s part of Silkwood’s maturation. That growing process continues to develop, on and off the field.
“My goal is to get better,” Silkwood said. “I take it one pitch at a time and make every pitch count.”
Thus far, she is doing that and giving the Bulldogs a loud bark and a stinging bite.
“It’s amazing how well the team is playing,” Silkwood said. “We have a lot of leadership and that helps us to keep our composure. Everybody is meshing together.”