Birmingham, Ala. - Senior designated player Brittany Bell became the 16th player in school history to hit two home runs in a game as the Mississippi State softball team defeated Samford, 6-3, Tuesday night at Bulldog Field. The Maroon and White improved to 5-0 under first-year head coach Vann Stuedeman, while Samford dropped to 2-3 overall. With four players and all four coaches having ties to Alabama, MSU won its school-record fifth-consecutive game in the Yellowhammer State.
"Brittany Bell had another stellar night," Stuedeman said. "It was also great to see Jessica Cooley put a great swing on a bat in front of her hometown friends and family. With that said it was the team's grit and heart that won this game."
Bell led the way with a 2-for-3 performance at the dish, including two home runs, two RBI, two runs and a walk. Junior right fielder Jessica Cooley came back to her hometown of Birmingham and went 2-for-3 with a solo home run of her own, while sophomores Heidi Shape and Sam Lenahan each recorded 2-for-4 performances with three total RBIs. Other Bulldogs picking up hits included senior first baseman Ka'ili Smith (1-for-3), junior left fielder Shelby Fisher (1-for-4) and the freshmen tandem of third baseman Swayze Hollenhead (1-for-4) and Courtney Vanlandingham (1-for-3).
In the circle, junior left-handed pitcher Stephanie Becker picked up the win to improve to 2-0, giving up one run (one earned) over 6.0 innings with four strikeouts. Fellow junior left Kylie Vry earned the save for the second-consecutive game, striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
Bell picked up right where she left off at the Mardi Gras Invitational, homering to right center on a 1-1 offering with two down in the top of the first to put MSU on the board.
Smith started off the top of the third by singling through the right side of the infield. Fisher followed with a slap hit through the left side, while Bell walked to load the bases. That brought up Lenahan as the cleanup hitter, who hit a towering fly ball to the warning track in right. At first glance, the right fielder appeared to have caught it, but the first base umpire ruled she dropped it. Both Smith and Fisher scored to make it 3-0 in favor of the Maroon and White, but Lenahan was called out after passing Bell at first subsequently thinking it was an out.
State scored again when Cooley sent the first pitch of the fourth inning skyrocketing into the night for her third home run of the season. The 4-0 lead was shrunk when Samford scored a run off an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth, but State earned it right back in the seventh on an RBI single by Shape. Samford made some noise in the bottom of the seventh by scoring two and closing the gap to a 6-3 MSU lead. Vry then entered the game and retired the side on strike outs, including Samford's leading hitter Misha Aldridge to end the game.
The 10-month wait for Starkville softball fans to see their team ends Friday at 5 p.m., when Stuedeman's squad makes its 2012 home debut against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in the first game of the annual Bulldog Round-Robin. Fans can visit HailState.com for live stats and follow along at Twitter.com/MStateSB for live in-game updates.