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MSU battles, but falls to Bama in softball

March 31, 2012

Erin Nesbit had a two-run home run in the fourth inning Friday for Mississippi State. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

The Mississippi State Bulldogs battled the second-ranked Alabama to the bitter end on Friday night, dropping a 5-4 decision to the Crimson Tide.

The Bulldogs (19-16 overall, 3-11 Southeastern Conference) to a 4-4 game into the final inning only to see the game slip away with a bases loaded, one-out walk by reliever Misty Flesher that gave Alabama the advantage it was looking for to improve to 33-1 and 10-1 in conference play.

“These girls came out here (Friday night) with a mission and it just shows you what they can do,” said MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman, who squared off against her former team for the first time. “It shows you what we should expect as coaches, as players, and as teammates. We just came up a little short, but it was great to see the Bulldog fight. It was a great game (Friday night), hard fought on both sides.”

The Tide jumped on top with a pair of run in the first inning off MSU starter Stephanie Becker, but after the first frame, the MSU ace found her groove and held Alabama in check for much of the night.

“You have to tip your cap to Becker,” said Stuedeman. “She toed the rubber and said come on let’s ride it on out, see what you’ve got. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She really hit her spots and stayed in control of her emotions.”

State tied the game in the home half of the third with a pair of unearned runs courtesy of two errors by the Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs took the lead in the fourth when Shelby Fisher reached on a walked and Erin Nesbit hammered a shot which easily cleared the fence, giving MSU the 4-2 lead.

“That was a no doubter," Stuedeman said. "She got all barrel and it was a great shot. I’m just really proud of her and how hard she works.”

However, Alabama tied the game in the next half inning before putting the game away in the seventh.

“We play the game like we play every game,” said Becker who had her longest outing of the season with 139 pitches to her credit. “We didn’t play like we were playing Alabama. We’re excited we came together as a team and battled hard. I think we’ll be ready (today).”

Becker pitch 6.1 innings allowing five runs on five hits with eight walks and six strikeouts. Her counterpart, Jackie Traina, turned in a complete game allowing four runs on six hits with five walks and nine strikeouts.

Jessica Cooley is the lone Bulldogs to turn in a multi-hit performance and Amanda Lock was the only player to pick up a pair of  hits for the Crimson Tide.

The two teams return to the diamond today for a 1 p.m. first pitch.

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