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MSU wraps up Bulldog Round Robin by winning pair

February 20, 2012

It's the little things that often do not show up in the boxscore that help wins games.

A good example of that came for the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second softball game Sunday of the Bulldog Round Robin Tournament at the MSU Softball Field.

In a 3-2 victory over Mississippi Valley State, there was a key at-bat in the sixth inning that set up a game-winning hit by Ka'ili Smith for the Bulldogs.

Brittany Gates entered the game as a pinch-hitter and executed a perfect bunt for a single to load the bases for MSU with one out.

It was the momentum that Gates brought with the hit that energized Smith enough to drive home Erin Nesbit to put the Bulldogs up 3-2.

Smith was glad to see Gates, Nesbit and Heidi Shape get on base to give her a chance.

"Brittany extended the inning for us with a quick bunt," Smith said. "I couldn't do it without the three other runners in front of me.

"I always like pressure situations so I feel I knew I was going to come through and knew I was going to hit it somewhere hard."

Smith's hit made a winner out of pitcher Stephanie Becker, who went the distance for MSU and improved to 3-0.

Becker and Kylie Vry, who threw a complete-game, two-hitter for the Bulldogs in a 5-0 win over SIU-Edwardsville earlier in the day, made up for the poor outing on Friday.

Vry walked two and gave up two runs on one hit, while Becker walked three and gave up one run on one hit in a 5-4 loss to SIU-Edwardsville.

"I was very glad to see both of them come back and pitch strong." MSU coach Vann Stuedeman said. "No walks (for Becker) is huge because we battled with them Friday night. I think she had three in the seventh inning on Friday night and (Sunday) she threw the whole game with no walks and seven K's which was also a season-high for her."

With the two wins on Sunday, the Bulldogs improved their record to 7-1 and are off to their best start since 2008.

Becker said it was important to use Friday's disappointment as a learning opportunity and grow from it.

"We just want to take it as a positive, come back and do our thing," Becker said. "We had great fielding (against Valley) and K.K. (Smith) did a great job behind the plate. It was a great defensive effort and it paid off."

MSU gave Becker a lead to work with by scoring a pair of runs in the third inning. Shelby Fisher started the two-out rally with a single and she came home on a double by Brittany Bell. Bell scored on a single by Sam Lenahan.

The Lady Devilettes tied the game with two runs in the fifth, but Becker shut them down to allow the offense to get the winning tally in the sixth.

The Bulldogs followed a seven-hit outing against SIU-Edwardsville with eight more against Mississippi Valley. Bell had a double and triple to lead the attack.

MSU returns to action at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., beginning Friday.

Mississippi State 5,
SIU-Edwardsville 0

Vry hurled the 12th complete game of her career with 10 strikeouts as the Bulldogs avenged Friday's loss to SIU-Edwardsville.

"I wanted to get Kylie back out there and give her another opportunity," Stuedeman said. "She's really been pitching well this season and doing a great job. I wanted to let her know that I still had a lot of confidence in her."

Vry had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning and Stuedeman gave her credit for being sharp after struggling in Friday's start.

After MSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run by Bell, it added three more runs in the third. Shelby Fisher drove in a pair of those runs with her first homer of the season.

The Bulldogs closed the scoring with one more run in the sixth frame.
MSU had seven hits in the game with the only other extra base hit being a double by Heidi Shape.

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