EUGENE, Ore. - BYU's Shelbi Everett hit a walk-off
double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Mississippi State
softball team (33-23) fell to BYU (44-13), 4-3, Thursday afternoon at the NCAA
Eugene Regional at Howe Field. The first game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament was
also the longest tournament game in school history for State, who returns to
the diamond Friday at 4 p.m. CT (2 p.m. PT) to take on the loser of Portland
State and host Oregon.
"That was a hard-fought ballgame and I am extremely proud of our team," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We were able to hit the ball hard all day long, but the result did not fall in our favor today."
Junior left-hander Kylie Vry set a tournament school record with 10 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of relief, but suffered the loss to drop her record to an even 9-9. Senior southpaw Lindsey Dunlap helped Vry break the team school record with 13 total strikeouts, fanning three Cougars in the first 3.0 innings. Together, Vry and Dunlap kept WAC Player of the Year and the nation's second-leading run producer (88 RBI) Delaney Willard hitless (0-for-4).
Hours after being named to the NFCA All-South Region First Team, senior Ka'ili Smith and sophomore Sam Lenahan combined to go 3-for-8 with three RBIs and a run scored. The Bulldogs saw production in the bottom of the lineup as well with senior right fielder Brittany Gates and sophomore center fielder Jessica Offutt going a combined 4-for-8 with two runs. Sophomore second baseman Heidi Shape also had a multiple-hit outing, going 2-for-4.
The home team jumped on the board first with a three-run second stanza. BYU's Stacie Toney led off the bottom half of the frame by getting hit on a 2-2 pitch. Toney was pushed over to second on a single to the gap in left by Krista Hicks. Dunlap struck out Ashlee Brawley on three pitches before getting Everett to popout to MSU shortstop Erin Nesbit. In the next at-bat, Smith picked off Toney at second, but obstruction was called on Shape to keep the inning alive.
The Cougars took advantage of their new life in the second. With two on and two outs, Jessica Dugas slapped a blooper that dropped in left, allowing Toney to score and Hicks to stand on second. A passed ball by Smith put two in scoring position, before Tiffa Messerschmidt knocked both in with another slap single down the left-field line.
With a resilient never-give-up attitude, State plated three runs on four hits in the top of the fifth. With one down and nobody on, Gates sailed a single over the second baseman's head into right. On the next pitch, Offutt executed a picture-perfect bunt in front of the BYU catcher to put two on the bags with nobody out. Smith stepped into the box next and drilled a single down the line in left, plating Gates and putting Offutt on second. After a popup by Shape, both base runners advanced on a wild pitch. Two stood in scoring position for Lenahan, who promptly ripped a bases-clearing double down the line to tie the game.
After the three-run fifth frame by the Bulldogs, both teams played scoreless softball until the bottom of the ninth. The bases became juiced for the Cougars, until Vry struck out her second batter of the inning. With the bags full and the Maroon and White one out away from the 10th inning, Everett deposited a 1-1 offering high off the wall in left, as MSU left fielder Jessica Cooley just missed the game-saving catch. Pinch runner Carly Duckworth scored from third, ending the game.