STARKVILLE, Miss. – Eight out of nine starters for the Mississippi State softball team either drove in a run or scored one as the Bulldogs (26-14, 5-9 SEC) escaped with a 6-5 win against arch-rival Ole Miss (21-25, 2-15 SEC) on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon at the MSU Softball Stadium. With the series-clinching victory, the Maroon and White extended its winning streak to seven against the Rebels, while Head Coach Vann Stuedeman improved to 11-0 all-time against in-state foes.
“It is always nice to clinch a series against the rival,” Stuedeman said. “We will be looking to come out and fight hard tomorrow.”
Senior Jessica Cooley knocked in a pair on a 2-for-3 day, while fellow senior Shelby Fisher finished 1-for-3 with an RBI as well. The No. 2-4 spots in the order were also productive, with the junior trio of Jessica Offutt (1-for-4, two runs), Logan Foulks (1-for-3, run) and Heidi Shape (0-for-3) recording one RBI each.
Stephanie Becker earned the starting assignment in the circle for State, becoming MSU’s all-time career strikeout leader in the first at-bat of the game. The senior southpaw struck out three in as many innings on the afternoon and is now 409 for her career, surpassing Autumn Anderson’s mark of 406 fanned batters in the late 1990s. Becker upped her overall record to 7-6 in her final campaign, while junior righty Alison Owen picked up her SEC-leading fourth save of the season with two innings of work in relief. Freshman Jacey Punches bridged the two pitchers, tossing two innings of shutout ball.
State wasted no time scoring in the first, scoring two runs on three hits. Offutt reached base thanks to a fielder’s choice, then stole second to give MSU its first runner in scoring position. The speedster from Madison, Ala., tapped the dish easily when Foulks pushed her in with a double to the gap in left. Foulks then scored thanks to a Cooley single to center field, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Maroon and White.
Ole Miss responded with a run in the top of the second, before giving up four more runs themselves in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded, Offutt tallied an RBI single, Shape drove in a run with a 3-2 walk, Cooley was hit by a pitch for an RBI the hard way and Fisher sliced one up the middle for an RBI base knock.
The Rebels scored twice in the fourth and again in the seventh to cut the deficit to one, but ultimately fell short in their comeback attempt.
Mississippi State will try to strike out cancer Sunday in the series finale starting at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will wear pink and the first 100 fans will receive pink Nerf softballs to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
For live in-game updates of MSU's rivalry series in Starkville, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.
· GIVEAWAY: 100 Pink "Nerf" Softballs to First Fans in Attendance
· "STRIKE OUT CANCER" Game
· Sunday Bingo with Giftcard Giveaways
· Foul Ball Frenzy - Receive a FREE Coupon When You Return a Foul Ball to the Marketing Table
· Bring 'em Homers - MSU Softball T-Shirts will Be Thrown into the Stands for Number of Runs Scored
· Load the Bases - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Grand Slam! - Four MSU Softball T-Shirts will be Thrown into the Stands
· MSU Double Play - Double Bubble Gum will be Thrown into the Stands
· MSU Hits a Double - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· MSU Strikes-Out Opponent - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE MSU Softball TShirt
· Bottom of 1st - Lead off Hit - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Top of 2nd - Sit 'em Down 1, 2, 3 - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Top of 3rd - Movie Trivia - One Lucky Fan will Receive TWO FREE Movie Tickets for Correctly Answering the Movie Trivia
· Bottom of 4th - Chicken Dance! - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Top of 5th - Name That Tune - One Lucky Fan will Receive a $5 iTunes Giftcard for Correctly Naming the Song Being Played
· Bottom of 6th - Take the Plate with the Bulldogs - One Lucky Fan will Receive 1, 2 or 3 FREE Coupons for a Local Starkville Business Based on the Hit (Single, Double or Triple)
· Top of 7th - Player Trivia - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business for Correctly Answering the Player Trivia Question