STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State begins the final stretch of the regular season by welcoming No. 3/2 Alabama for a three-game series. The Bulldogs have just nine Southeastern Conference games after this weekend. The Crimson Tide begin the set in first place in the SEC.
First pitch Friday is set for 5 p.m. CT while Saturday will be at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. FSN will provide a live television broadcast of Sunday’s game and it will also be streamed live on ESPN3. Dave Neal will handle the play-by-play duties while Barb Jordan will serve as the color analyst.
The Crimson Tide holds a 52-8 advantage in the all-time series with the Bulldogs and outscored Mississippi State 358-157. Alabama has gone 21-4 in Starkville. MSU snapped a 27-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide last year in Tuscaloosa, winning the series opener 3-2.
After the series-opening setback last year, Alabama won the next two games 11-3 and 9-8. In the first game, MSU took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third with two-run single by Jessica Offutt. The Bulldogs made it a three-run lead in the fourth with a triple from Jessica Cooley followed by an RBI single from Heidi Shape. A Molly Fichtner home run in the fourth made it a 3-1 lead and Kaila Hunt single in the fifth made it 3-2, but MSU held on. The Crimson Tide scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth in game two to earn the win. Hunt went two-for-three and drove in three while Courtney Conley plated two and scored twice to lead the offense. In the finale, Alabama led 6-1 after two innings but needed a walk-off hit in the seventh to win. A Briana Bell two-run home run in the top of the seventh tied the game at 8-8 before Danae Hays’ two-out single to center in the bottom of the frame gave Alabama the win.
The weekend will be a rivalry of sorts. Mississippi State relies heavily on the state of Alabama as five student-athletes, head coach Vann Stuedeman, assistant coach Beth Mullins and volunteer assistant Jessica Cooley are all from the Yellowhammer State.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Mississippi State, Stuedeman was the pitching coach at Alabama for 11 years. She helped the Crimson Tide claim three SEC regular-season titles en route to reaching the Women’s College World Series six times. With her on staff, Alabama went 579-150 from 2000-11 (.794 winning percentage), including a 243-70 record inside the SEC.
After this weekend’s series, the Bulldogs head to Jackson State on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. CT contest.