The Mississippi State softball team learned a lot about themselves a week ago, and put that knowledge to use on Friday.
The homestanding Bulldogs beat the Louisiana Tech version 8-0 in five innings in their second game in the 13th annual MSU Bulldog Classic.
MSU went 1-4 a weekend ago in a tournament in Florida, when it played some top notch competition and head coach Vann Stuedeman thinks her team learned a lot from those four losses.
"I think what the girls learned last week was that they can, they do belong, we are athletic, we do have heart and we can fight," Stuedeman said. "I think they just figured it out that what I was telling them all along was the truth and that they can really play ball."
After putting up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, Brittany Bell blew the game wide open in the bottom of the second.
"That's expected," Bell said of her offense. "They wouldn't put me in the three hole for no reason. I wouldn't have done it without my teammates. I get hyped when they get on base. It's a huge thing for me. I just get excited when they get on base and do the right things and I feed off of that and I just deliver."
With the bases loaded, Bell blasted a pitch over the left field wall to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
"She came off an 0-for day (against Jackson State)," Stuedeman said. "It is uncharacteristic of her. She is a fifth-year senior, has a ton of knowledge and lot of confidence. When I got up (Friday), I felt sorry for whoever has to face Bell today because I knew she would come out hungry and wanting to prove a point and she did."
Bell did not dwell on the Jackson State game and came in with the same mentality as she always does.
"I wasn't worried," Bell said. "I went out there with the same mentality. Come up there with the right mind set and hit the ball."
The Bulldogs added two more runs in the third inning.
Stephanie Becker started on the mound for MSU and recorded the win. She is now 5-1 for the season. She pitched four innings, only giving up three hits, with three strikeouts and one walk.
"She has been throwing well for us since she got here," Stuedeman said. "She is a junior. She is going to need some confidence going into the SEC play, and putting up a shutout has certainly got to make her feel good."
Sophomore Shana Sherrod came in and closed the game out for the Bulldogs in the top of the fifth, recording one strikeout.
Junior infielder Erin Nesbit was the only Bulldog to get multiple hits with two. Sam Lenahan and Heidi Shape each drove in one run a piece.
Mississippi State 11,Â
Columbia 1, 5 innings
The Bulldogs entered the bottom of the third inning trailing 1-0. They threw up an eight spot to take the lead for good.
Junior Jessica Cooley led off the inning with a home run to spark the rally.
MSU used five hits in the inning.
Senior Misty Flesher got the nod on the mound and pitched a complete game. She pitched five innings, giving up only three hits and one run. She struck out five and only walked two.
"I was really impressed and proud for Misty Flesher," Stuedeman said. "It's her fifth year. She had to sit out a year for shoulder surgery. She has been really eager to get the ball, so I wasÂ very happy for her. She settled in after that first inning and put up 0s the rest of the game."
Flesher has battled some injuries in her career, but was glad to get back out there Friday.
She was quick to give credit to her coaches and her teammates.
"I couldn't have done it without the coaches calling great pitches and Kaili (Smith) catching behind the plate," Flesher said. "Our defense was playing well, and had my back."
Lenahan recorded three hits and was the only Bulldog with multiple hits in the first game. She also drove in two runs.
Bell drove in three runs, to give her seven RBI for both games. Shelby Fisher drove in two runs.
The Bulldogs improved to 11-5 for the year after Friday's games.
They are back in action today at 11 a.m. when they play Columbia and again at 1 p.m. when they play Eastern Illinois.Â
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