Tide continues mastery over MSU

STARKVILLE, MS-The No. 15 ranked (USA Today/NFCA) University of Alabama softball team extended its winning streak over the Mississippi State Bulldogs (30-24, 10-13 in the Southeastern Conference) to 12 games as the Tide continued a series sweep with an 8-2 victory in Game 3.

The Tide (41-13, 20-4) swept the season series for the third straight year while extending its all-time record over the Bulldogs to 19-4. The last Mississippi State win in the series was a 4-2 win on May 13, 1999, in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

For the third time in the series, Alabama took the lead, this time on a RBI double by Ashley Courtney in the top of the third inning. Jackie McClain drew a one-out walk, her second of the day which tied her for fifth on the Alabama single-season walk list at 31. She was pinch run for by Deasy Phillips who took second when Lacy Prejean was hit by a pitch moving her one away from tying the school record for being hit by a pitch. Courtney then followed with her double staking the Tide to a 1-0 lead.

The Tide added to its lead in the next inning. Angela Johnson led off with a single to right field and took second on a sacrifice from Leah White. After a Jennifer Reach fly out, Jackie Wilkins singled into left field scoring Johnson from second for a 2-0 Bama lead.

Mississippi State cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jennifer Jessup hit a grounder to second scoring Kasey Whitehead from third. The Bulldogs loaded the bases, but the Tide went to Shelley Laird who came on in relief of Tide starter Jennifer Wright and got Iyhia McMichael to fly out to right to end the inning.

Alabama opened its lead in the top of the fifth inning. McClain led off with a single and advanced to second on a booted ball by third baseman Tanelda McDonald putting Prejean at first. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and McClain came in to score on a bloop single from Courtney for a 3-1 Bama lead. Emily Currie flew out to left field allowing Prejean to tag and score on the play. Angela Johnson hit a grounder to third base but Whitehead threw wildly to second giving Bama runners on first and second with no outs. The Tide put on a double steal with Courtney stealing third and Johnson stealing second. White then laid down a bunt on a squeeze play and Courtney avoided the tag at home for the run. Reach laid down a bunt on a squeeze play with Johnson beating the throw home for a 6-1 Crimson Tide lead.

Bama added another run in the sixth and seventh innings while State tacked on a run in the bottom of the seventh for the final 8-2 score.

Laird picked up the win in relief running her record to 23-7. She pitched the final 3.1 innings allowing one run on four hits while striking out four batters. The win was her 114th career victory moving her into a tie with Shawn Andaya of Texas A&M for eighth on the NCAA's all-time win list.

Alabama will take the week off from competition before getting back to action next weekend in the final home series of the season against the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks.


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