The Mississippi State Bulldogs once again tested the limits of the No. 2 team in the land in softball, the Alabama Crimson Tide, on Saturday afternoon.
For the second time in as many days, State drops the decision 4-2.
State set the table for a walk-off win in the seventh innings with two on and two outs, but the Crimson Tide (34-1, 11-1) simply had too many arms, dropping MSU to 19-17 for the season.
"We had a ton of balls hit right at their defense and could not get the little break that we needed," said MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman. "When you have the winning run at the dish in the bottom of the seventh, you know you are making a rally for it. That is all you can ask for out of your offense."
The Bulldogs were paced at the plate by sophomore second baseman Heidi Shape, who turned in a 2-for-3 performance. State’s other two hits came from Kaili Smith and Brittany Gates. Erin Nesbit picked up an RBI in the sixth with a sacrifice bunt allowing Jessica Cooley to score.
“Heidi Shape, she was seeing it well last night too, she just came up empty,” said Stuedeman said following the game. “Today, she was seeing it well and putting the barrel on it in her opportunities. We just recently moved her to that two-spot and she is embracing that role.”
In the circle, junior left-handed pitcher Kylie Vry picked up her sixth loss of the season (5-6), allowing four runs on six hits with two walks in just 3.1 innings of work. Lindsey Dunlap and Stephanie Becker worked the final 3.2 frames, holding Alabama in check and giving the Bulldogs a chance to earn the win.
“Lindsey Dunlap is getting better and better with every single outing,” said Stuedeman. “She has some great spin and some great movement. She going to continue to get out there and get a couple of innings at a time in middle relief.”
Alabama struck first with a two-run second inning. Designated player Amanda Locke began the frame with a single up the middle, with teammate Jazlyn Lunceford following with a walk. The runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Danae Hays before catcher Olivia Gibson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That set the table for Danielle Richard to hit a sacrifice fly to left, allowing for Locke to score from third for the game's first run. Next, an infield bunt single by left fielder Kayla Braud once again load the bases for Jennifer Fenton to deliver a RBI infield single.
State bounced back in the bottom of the second, scoring an unearned run, cutting the lead in half.
Alabama struck with a long ball in the third and fourth innings to push their lead to 4-1.
“We are improving in the defensive area and that’s what I challenged them with over the past couple of weeks,” Stuedeman said. “As soon as we put everything together, people better watch out. We’ve got a great bunch of kids who work hard every day and play with a lot of heart. We’ve just got to put a complete game out there at some point this year.”
The Bulldogs wrap up the weekend series Sunday at 1 p.m for their final game of the weekend against Alabama.