Softball takes two from the Bulldogs

STARKVILLE, MS-The bats came to life for the No. 15 ranked (USA Today/NFCA) Crimson Tide softball team in a doubleheader sweep of the Mississippi State Bulldogs 10-4 and 8-4. The Alabama offense combined for 18 runs on 23 hits including four extra base hits as the Crimson Tide stretched its winning streak over Mississippi State to 11 games.

Alabama (40-13, 19-4 in the Southeastern Conference) struck early on a Lacy Prejean RBI single up the middle in the top of the first inning. Jackie Wilkins drew a leadoff walk and took second on a sacrifice attempt by Suzanne Olcott who reached on an error by State pitcher Kasey Whitehead. Jackie McClain hit a bloop single into shallow centerfield loading the bases for Prejean who then singled in Wilkins for a 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs (30-23, 10-12) threatened in the bottom of the inning putting runners on first and third with one out, but got out of the inning on a strikeout-throw out double play with Alabama All-American Shelley Laird striking out State All-American Kellie Wilkerson and Lacy Prejean throwing out Iyhia McMichael who was stealing on the play.

Alabama added two more runs in the third, taking advantage of two hits and a Mississippi State error. Wilkins led off with her second walk of the game and stole second. Olcott reached on a bloop single sending Wilkins to third and McClain then roped a single to right field scoring Wilkins and sending Olcott to third. Ashley Courtney was hit by a pitch loading the bases and with two outs Capper Reed hit a grounder to third that was booted by Tanelda McDonald allowing Olcott to score for the 3-0 lead.

The Tide cushioned its lead in the fourth inning on a two-run double from McClain that hit off the top of the wall in centerfield. Wilkins reached on a one-out error by Jennifer Jessup and went to second on a single from Olcott. Wilkerson came on in relief of Kasey Whitehead and promptly gave up the double to McClain.

Alabama blew the game open in the top of the fifth inning scoring four runs on five hits. Emily Currie and Reed led off the inning with singles and advanced to second and third on a sacrifice from Leah White. Jennifer Reach followed with a single scoring both runners for a 7-1 Alabama lead. Wilkins then hit her third home run of the season scoring Reach for a 9-1 lead.

Mississippi State answered in the bottom of the inning on a two-out three-run double by Lindsay Nelson cutting the lead to 9-4.

The Tide extended its lead to 10-4 in the sixth inning when White laced a single into centerfield scoring Currie from third.

Laird recorded the win extending her record to 22-7 on the season striking out six batters in seven innings of action.

In the second game, the Tide took an early lead again this time on a run-scoring single from Currie. Ashley Courtney reached on a fielder's choice and advanced on a wild pitch from MSU pitcher Melissa Massey. Currie then singled down the left field line scoring Courtney from second for a 1-0 Alabama lead.

Bama cushioned its lead in the third inning courtesy of two hits and two Bulldog errors. Reach led off the inning with a walk. Wilkins then hit a slow grounder to first that was fielded by Wilkerson who threw wildly to first to get Wilkins allowing her to advance to second and sending Reach to third. Olcott grounded out to second scoring Reach for a 2-0 lead. McClain hit a first pitch single back up the middle scoring Wilkins and was forced out at second on a fielder's choice by Prejean. Courtney then singled to left advancing Prejean to second. Prejean made the turn at second base and headed to third, drawing the throw from Wilkerson who skipped the ball past third baseman Faith Robinson allowing Prejean to score for a 4-0 Alabama lead.

The Crimson Tide flexed its offensive muscle again in the fifth inning. McClain got her second hit of the game on a double to right centerfield. Prejean walked and both runners advanced on a single by Courtney. Currie then blooped a single into left field scoring McClain to push the lead to 5-0. Capper Reed followed with a single back up the middle scoring Prejean and Courtney to make it 7-0.

Mississippi State cut into the Alabama lead in the bottom of the fifth inning posting a three-spot of their own making it a 7-3 game.

The Tide answered in the top of the sixth inning when McClain reached on a fielder's choice and was pinch run for by Deasy Phillips who promptly stole second. Phillips advanced to third on a wild pitch and came in to score on a two-out single by Courtney for an 8-3 Alabama lead.

The Bulldogs scored one more run in the bottom of the seventh inning but it was too late as Erin Wright picked up her 11th win of the season.

The Tide and the Bulldogs will complete their series with Game 3 on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Live stats are available by going to www.rolltide.com.


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