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Bulldogs Bark Early But Fade Late In 11-3 Loss At No. 4 Alabama

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Photo Courtesy of hailstate.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Just like Friday night, the Mississippi State softball team jumped out to a 3-0 lead against No. 4 Alabama Saturday afternoon. Unlike Friday, however, the Crimson Tide stormed back, scoring 11 unanswered runs for an 11-3 victory in five innings at Rhoads Stadium. The Maroon and White dropped to 29-15 overall and 7-10 in the Southeastern Conference, while the defending national champion Crimson Tide improved to 39-7 in 2013 with a 10-6 conference record.

“We struck first, but we just were not able to hold on to it,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “It was another really tight game. We are going to get into these situations and keep grinding.”

The Bulldogs scored three runs on one hit and two errors in the first inning, but recorded just one base knock after the first inning. Alabama scored two total in the first two frames, making it 3-2 in favor of the Maroon and White heading to the third. State had two on and one out in the top of the inning, but couldn’t capitalize, as the Tide rolled away with the game thanks to a two-run fourth and an eight-run fifth.

Junior right-hander Alison Owen suffered the defeat for MSU, falling to 15-7 on the year after yielding four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 4.0 innings of work. Senior southpaw Stephanie Becker surrendered three runs off a trio of hits in 0.1 innings, while freshman Jacey Punches walked five and gave up four runs.

In front of an Alabama record crowd of 4,002, State wasted no time scoring in the first thanks to a pair of defensive miscues by the Crimson Tide and a clutch two-run home run by senior right fielder Jessica Cooley. Junior Logan Foulks scored the first run of the game when redshirt sophomore Briana Bell put pressure on the Bama defense with a steal. The Crimson Tide catcher threw the ball into center field, allowing Foulks to jog home. With Bell on second, Cooley launched a Brickyard blast to right field off Bama righty Leslie Jury for her eighth long ball of the season.

Just like the Bulldogs, Alabama scored its first run thanks to an error by the defense in the bottom of the first. The Crimson Tide added its second run of the game due to a two-out solo homer by Courtney Conley in the second stanza.

Alabama tied the game in the fourth with an RBI single by Jackie Traina, and took its first lead of the weekend with an RBI hit by Jadyn Spencer.

The home team pulled away in the fifth as a result of a three-run home run by Kaila Hunt. The bases clearer followed with a bases-loaded hit by pitch and a pair of bases-loaded walks to give the No. 4 team a 10-3 lead. Haylie McCleney ended the game with an RBI single up the middle.

“I cannot wait to play tomorrow,” Stuedeman said. “This is the most fun game on earth.”

The Bulldogs return to action Sunday at 1 p.m. for the series finale in a rubber match which will be broadcast live on Fox Sports South. Dave Neal will call the game and Cheri Kempf will analyze the action. For live in-game updates of the game, 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.
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