Softball Defeats Top-Five Team For Second Time In 12 Days
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Twelve days after defeating No. 3 Florida on the road, the Mississippi State softball team (29-14, 7-9 SEC) made another national statement, defeating No. 4 Alabama (38-7, 10-6 SEC), 3-2, Friday night at Rhoads Stadium. The win made it the second time in school history the Bulldogs defeated the defending national champion as well as two top-five teams in the same season (both 2002).
“Credit a great Alabama team,” Stuedeman said. “It was a great ballgame tonight. I could not be more proud of our seniors for getting the victory. I am proud of our team and the Bulldog Nation.”
Senior left-hander Stephanie Becker earned the starting assignment, striking out seven in five strong innings of work. The southpaw improved her overall record to 9-6 in her final campaign, giving up two runs (one earned). Junior righty Alison Owen earned her SEC-leading fifth save of the season with two shutout stanzas to end the game.
“Tip your hat to Stephanie Becker,” Stuedeman said. “What a great game she threw.”
Junior Jessica Offutt continued her torrid pace with a pair of hits and two RBIs, while fellow junior Heidi Shape went 1-for-3 with one driven in. Senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-3), redshirt sophomore Julia Echols (1-for-3) and freshman Kayla Winkfield (0-for-1, walk) scored the three runs for the Maroon and White.
After two scoreless innings, Echols jumpstarted the Bulldog offense with a leadoff single to left to start the third. Echols advanced to second on a passed ball and then stole third for her fifth swipe of the season. Winkfield joined her teammate on the base paths thanks to a 3-1 walk and stole second to put another MSU runner in scoring position. With two outs, Offutt pinched a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Echols and Winkfield for an early 2-0 lead.
State added the game-winning run in the top of the fourth. Cooley went shopping at the gap in right field, ending up underneath the tag of the Alabama third baseman for her second career triple. Shape stepped up to the dish next and drove in Cooley with a hard-and-low single up the middle.
Alabama scored its first run of the game with a solo homer by cleanup batter Molly Fichtner in the bottom of the fourth, and plated its last run of the game with an RBI single by Kaila Hunt in the fifth. Hunt, an All-American, struck out with the tying run on base to end the game.
“If we focus on playing in the moment, we can do special things,” Stuedeman said.
The Bulldogs, who are riding a six-game winning streak, including five straight in the SEC, return to action Saturday at Alabama for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch. Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale will broadcast live on Fox Sports South, with Dave Neal calling the game and Cheri Kempf analyzing the action.
For live in-game updates of the series, 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.