Tupelo, Miss. - Clutch two-out hitting in the bottom of the third was the difference Sunday afternoon as the Mississippi State softball team defeated Wallace State, 4-2, in front of 450 maroon and white-clad fans at the Veterans Sportsplex. The win kept the Bulldogs' perfect record intact in the fall exhibition schedule (3-0).
"I'm really proud of the way we battled defensive adversity by responding with some timely hits," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "The crowd in Tupelo was amazing, and the hospitality provided by Seth Gaines and the city was second to none."
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After Wallace State plated an unearned run in the first, the Bulldogs stayed in the doghouse until the bottom of the third. With the wind blowing in severely, senior centerfielder Brittany Gates led off the bottom of the frame with a deep fly out to right field.
Senior designated player Brittany Bell battled her way to a one-out walk, and pinch runner Jessica Offutt stole second. With a runner in scoring position, junior leftfielder Shelby Fisher hit a grounder right through Offutt's legs to the shortstop, reaching on an infield single. The Dawgs barked on the basepaths again, with Fisher stealing second. Offutt crossed the dish on the catcher's overthrow to second, which allowed Fisher to move to third. Following a strikeout by sophomore Sam Lenahan, her travel ball teammate Heidi Shape picked her up by working a 10-plus pitch at bat and crushing a double off the wall in left, knocking in Fisher. Senior Ka'ili Smith reenacted Shape's at bat, trading places with Shape with a two-out RBI double of her own to straightaway center.
With the Maroon and White leading 3-1 in the sixth inning, Wallace State mirrored State with a two-out run in the top of the frame. Sitting on a slim 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore Briana Bell pinch hit for the Bulldogs and proved the coaches right by singling on a blooper. Offutt pinch ran again, and after stealing second, was brought home by a two-out single by Gates to give the game its final score of 4-2.
Junior starting pitcher Stephanie Becker picked up victory inside the circle, giving up two runs (zero earned) over 6.1 innings. Shana Sherrod notched two quick outs in the seventh, before Becker returned to reap the benefits of her hard work by recording the final out of the game for the triumph.
The Bulldogs make their only out-of-state appearance of their fall exhibition schedule this Friday in Irondale, Ala. (Birmingham area), for a 6 p.m. contest against Jacksonville State at Shae Field. One day later in Starkville, MSU returns to OUR State for its only home date of the fall schedule, a 1 p.m. doubleheader against in-state foe Southern Miss.
Fans are encouraged to follow the team via Facebook and Twitter for more information regarding the fall schedule.