STARKVILLE, Miss. - Senior Ali Bainbridge hit her fourth home run of the season as part of a 2-for-2, two-RBI night as Mississippi State fell 14-4 in five innings to Southern Mississippi in the M&F Bank Fastpitch Classic at Liberty Park in Madison.
Fellow senior Courtney Nesbit followed a 3-for-4, five-RBI effort last Sunday against Ole Miss with two hits and a pair of RBI Wednesday night in front of a majority-MSU crowd of 846.
The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 19-19 overall, while USM improved to 11-24 on the season.
After Bulldog starter Kylie Vry sat the Golden Eagles down in order in the first, the Bulldogs jumped out to the early lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Bainbridge led off with a walk and reached second as Southern Miss shortstop Chanell Thurman mishandled the throw on a Shelby Fisher ground ball. The pair swiped third and second, respectively, and Nesbit cleared the bases with a hard-hit ball to right field.
Southern Miss rallied in the top of the second, scoring five runs on a Thurman single, a wild pitch, a Brittany Lilly groundout and a two-run home run by Leslie Lejune, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI in the game.
The five-run burst chased Vry from the circle. She endured the loss as she was touched for the five runs and five hits in two innings.
"We played terrible and didn't get any pitching tonight. We came out and played well in the first inning, but we left the bases loaded in that inning and left two more on in the second. We have to take advantage of those opportunities," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "Our pitchers struggled to get anyone out tonight. We have to put this one behind us and get ready for a big series against Auburn this weekend."
Mississippi State cut the lead back to a run at 5-4 with two more runs in the bottom of the second. Briana Bell opened the frame with a walk before Bainbridge hit a shot over the fence in center field.
Southern Mississippi extended the lead, however, with six runs in the third off Bulldog reliever Misty Flesher.
Flesher was tagged for five runs and four hits in 0.1 innings, giving up a two-run home run to Britney Dinelt and a Mackenzie Sher RBI single. Lilly and Lejune capped the inning with a pair of singles off Bulldog sophomore Stephanie Becker, who surrendered four runs (three earned) on six hits over the final 2.2 frames.
USM capped the game with three runs in the fifth off back-to-back home runs from Lilly and Lejune.
Beth Dietrich tossed four innings of scoreless relief to secure the win and run her record to 6-11. Gabby Luciani went one inning and allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits.
Mississippi State returns home to this weekend to host Auburn in a three-game Southeastern Conference series as part of the school's Super Bulldog Weekend hosted by Region's Bank. Friday's opener is set for a 5 p.m. first pitch. Saturday's game is slated for an 11:30 a.m. start, while Sunday's game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Free audio of all three of this weekend's games will be available at www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive.