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Lenahan's hit gives MSU win

April 22, 2012

Sam Lenahan approached the plate with a purpose in mind.

She wanted to hit a good pitch.

That she did and delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth to give Mississippi State a 2-1 win over Kentucky in extra innings Saturday at the MSU Softball Field.

With one out, Lenahan delivered a single up the middle to plate Jessica Cooley who was coming from second.

"Before the at-bat started, I knew I needed to get a good pitch to hit," Lenahan said. "Something preferably on the outer half of the plate to make it easier for Jessica (Cooley) to score. I got ahead 2-0 (and) I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and she gave me one. It found a hole. Jessica had a great slide at home."

Cooley had to hustle as UK center fielder Kara Howard threw a rope to home plate, but Cooley managed to slide under the tag.

"Cooley is really one of the fastest runners on the team," MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman said who's team improved to 27-19 overall and 10-14 in league play. "She executed a fantastic slide at the dish."

The bottom of the eighth started with a leadoff walk by Cooley.

"It was perfect," Stuedeman said of the bottom of the eighth. "You draw a leadoff walk. That was huge to get to the leadoff on. It just sparks so much momentum."

Kentucky (23-25, 10-11) took an early 1-0 lead leadoff hitter Brittany Cervantes doubled and later scored on a passed ball.

Brittany Bell tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when she had a bloop single to right field plating Brittany Gates.

"I keep telling them the more we play in a game like this the more confidence that it will build and the more trust in themselves and in each other it will build," Stuedeman said as her team has come from behind in both games this weekend.

The Bulldogs started Misty Flesher in the circle, but she was pulled after the first inning, making way for Kylie Vry. Lindsey Dunlap relieved Vry in the fourth, but Stephanie Becker got the win as she pitched the last two innings.

The Bulldogs only gave up five hits, all in the first four innings.

"Misty was able to get a ground ball and we were able to roll the double play," Stuedeman said. "She got out of it with bases loaded and just one run. That's huge. Kylie came out and gave us three really good innings. Dunlap gave us four strikeouts. The pitching staff did a great job (Saturday)."

ESPNU televised the game and there was a capacity crowd on hand to watch. Stuedeman was excited and grateful for the atmosphere.

"The crowd was awesome," Stuedeman said. "I want to thank everybody that came out in their maroon. The entire stands were filled. The whole outfield wall was covered with people. I just want to personally thank everyone for coming out here."

The Bulldogs have won eight out of their last nine games, including seven out of eight of their last Southeastern Conference games.

A win today will give the Bulldogs back-to-back sweeps as they swept in-state rival Ole Miss last weekend.

"This is our second to last SEC series and it will give us a lot of momentum going into the SEC Tournament," Lenahan said.

Game three is at 1 p.m. today.

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