Jessica Cooley prepares to make a throw from the outfield for the Bulldogs on Sunday. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman won't allow her team to become dejected.
The Bulldogs can't afford to go in that direction with the tough stretch of Southeastern Conference games facing the program right now.
After being swept at home by the 11th-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers over the weekend, MSU must now turn its attention to hosting No. 1 Alabama next Friday, Saturday and Sunday after a midweek trip to Mississippi Valley State Wednesday.
The Bulldogs were out-scored 26-3 by the Lady Vols during the recent three-game conference series, including Sunday's 8-0 loss.
Even with it being a tough day at the plate with MSU only getting five hits off Tennessee's Ivy Renfroe, Stuedeman said her squad will continue to work and find ways to get the job done.
"This is one of the greatest leagues in college softball and day-in and day-out you must bring it," Stuedeman said. "You have to crave that opportunity and you want to be in those kind of situations. These kinds of games is what you play SEC softball for."
The Lady Vols scored one run in the second inning, one more in the third and broke the game open with six runs in the fourth.
The Bulldogs had chances to answer, but could never score.
MSU had two leadoff doubles, one by Brittany Bell in the second inning and the other by Sam Lenahan in the fourth. Both times the runners were left on base.
Stuedeman hopes the players learn from those situations.
"What we've got to do is get better with each opportunity, continue to grow as individuals and a squad and continue to cherish these opportunities," Stuedeman said. "We all chose to be here. They chose to come to Mississippi State so this is what we chose to be doing and to be competing in these situations. If you don't want to be competing in these situations, then you need to choose another conference. We're excited about the opportunity and ready to get back out there."
Bell and Lenahan had one double and one single each, while Ka'ili Smith had a single for the other Bulldog hit.
Stephanie Becker was the starting pitcher for MSU and worked 3.1 innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on six hits with three strikeouts and six walks. Misty Flesher and Lindsey Dunlap also worked in relief.
"The more confidence the whole complete staff can get the better off we're going to be in the long run," Stuedeman said.
With Sunday's loss, the Bulldogs fell to 18-15 overall and 3-10 in the SEC.
Mississippi State tries to generate some momentum with Wednesday's 5 p.m. game at Mississippi Valley State going into the Alabama series.
"Our moral here is great," Stuedeman said. "We're going to keep working hard and push forward through this. We've had the No. 4 team in the nation, the No. 9 team in the nation and have had three top 10 opponents here in Starkville in the month of March and have one more coming with No. 1 next weekend.
"We're playing hard and will continue to play hard. The girls are giving me everything they have and I couldn't be prouder of them."
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