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Successful weekend: MSU wins all three softball games from Kentucky

April 22, 2012

Jessica Cooley, right, scores the winning run for the Bulldogs on Sunday. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

The Mississippi State softball team joined baseball in sweeping its series on Super Bulldog Weekend.

After MSU finished off the sweep of the Tennessee Volunteers in baseball on Saturday, softball followed suit with a 3-2 win and the series sweep of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Jessica Cooley scored all the way from first base in the home half of the seventh inning on a Ka'ili Smith smash to left center to give Mississippi State (28-19, 11-14) the walk-off victory for the second consecutive day.

“We always talk about quality at-bats and sometimes you just have to take a walk,” said Cooley, who didn’t have a hit in the contest but she unselfishly picked up the crucial walk in the seventh inning. “I knew when I got that walk, I just laughed when I got to first base, KK (Smith) has got this, (and), I’m just going to run.”

The Bulldogs were subdued by Kentucky pitcher Chanda Bell all afternoon, allowing State just four hits in the game, but Smith understood exactly how she would be pitched in her final at-bat.

“I knew she was going to give me the inside and the first pitch was an inside drop ball and he called it," said Smith, the current SEC Player of the Week. "The next pitch was a rise ball and I laid it off. I knew if she was going to pitch any part of the plate middle-to-out I had it. That’s what I did and drove it to the opposite side.”

After the game, MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman couldn’t have been more proud of the grit and determination Smith displayed in the Super Bulldog Weekend finale.

“She had been on base all day but didn’t get a hit yet," Stuedeman said. "In the last inning, we knew we had to get K.K. to the plate. Cooley drawing that walk was a very mature, level-headed at-bat. She took the walk that they gave her and gave K.K. a chance to get it done. Quality at-bats will lead to barrels and that’s what happened there. She hit is in the perfect spot.”

Kentucky broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with a single run on an Alice O’Brein single with the bases loaded.

Not to be outdone, State answered with a pair of unearned runs in the fifth on a pair of Wildcat errors.

However, the lead was short-lived as the Wildcats struck again in the top of the sixth with a monster home run from Ginny Carroll off Stephanie Becker who started the game and had just reentered the contest.

Brittany Gates went 2-for-2 with a run scored to go with hits from Smith and Heidi Shape to round out the four Bulldog hits for the outing.

From the circle, the Bulldogs struggled with control at times but managed to get the outs when they needed them the most. Kentucky plated two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts.

The win gives the club 28 wins for the season and assures the team of a winning season and all but locks up a spot in the SEC tournament and an opportunity for postseason play.

At the moment, State owns a RPI of 31 and have played the fourth most difficult schedule in college softball.

The Bulldogs host the Memphis Tigers on Tuesday.

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