LEXINGTON, Ky. – With temperatures dipping into the 30s, the ending was even colder for the Mississippi State softball team, who fell 5-4 at No. 21 Kentucky via a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th Friday night. The extra-inning heartbreaker at the UK Softball Complex dropped MSU to 20-7 overall and 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference, while snapping its school-record 12-game winning streak on the road.
"Give credit to Kentucky freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “She pitched like a senior tonight.”
The Bulldogs scored four runs in the first inning, but went scoreless the rest of the game, stranding 11 on base, with an additional three runners being throw out on the base paths. Senior Shelby Fisher tallied a career-high four hits in five at-bats, with all four base knocks coming with two strikes in the count. Fellow senior Jessica Cooley finished 1-for-5 with a two-run home run, while junior slugger Sam Lenahan also hit a two-run bleacher blast to go along with two walks.
After starter Alison Owen surrendered four runs on seven hits in the first four frames, senior left-hander Stephanie Becker relieved her teammate and gave up zero runs in the five innings before allowing the game-winning long ball in the final frame. The southpaw struck out seven and walked one in the hard-luck loss, dropping to 6-2 on her senior campaign. Kentucky righty Kelsey Nunley pitched 9.0 shutout innings in relief to move to 13-3 on the year with the win.
State wasted no time getting started offensively, scoring first for the first time for the 24th time in 27 games. Junior Jessica Offutt slapped a liner to left and moved to second base when the Wildcats’ left fielder dropped the ball near the left-field line. Following a groundout by junior Heidi Shape, Lenahan launched a towering home run well over the fence in left for an early two-run lead. Just like Offutt, junior Logan Foulks reached base on an error and was driven in when Cooley cracked her first home run since Feb. 16.
Kentucky (21-8, 3-4 SEC) responded in the bottom half of the opening inning with three-consecutive singles that cut MSU’s lead in half at 4-2. Starting a two-out rally, three-hole hitter Griffin Joiner hit a Bluegrass blooper over shortstop Erin Nesbit’s head to reach first. Griffin was joined on the bags when cleanup batter Alice O’Brien sliced a 1-2 offering to the Bermuda Triangle down the left-field line. With two in scoring position, UK left fielder Ginny Carroll singled to left field, knocking in her two teammates.
The Wildcats tied up the game in the bottom of the third, which started with a leadoff walk by UK shortstop Christian Stokes. Following a sacrifice bunt that saw Stokes sprint to third, O’Brien hit a two-run home run to right center to make it a 4-4 tie at the UK Softball Complex.
After playing scoreless softball for six-straight innings, it was O’Brien that came through again for the Blue and White. Facing a 1-1 count to start the bottom of the 10th inning, O’Brien went yard again, walking off for the Wildcats to end the game in State’s second-straight extra-inning Friday night game in conference play.
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