STARKVILLE, Miss. - Courtney Nesbit went 2-for-4 and drove in the tying runs in a four-run sixth, but the Mississippi State softball team was unable to hold on as No. 22 Auburn claimed a 5-4 win in eight innings Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Field.
Mississippi State fell to 20-21 overall and 8-8 in SEC play. Auburn clinched the series win while improving to 32-9 and 11-6 in the league.
After giving up two runs in the fifth and two runs in the sixth to fall behind 4-0, the Bulldogs broke through with the tying runs in the sixth off Auburn starter Lauren Schmalz.
Chelsea Raines sparked the inning with a leadoff double. Brittany Gates struck out, but managed to reach on a wild pitch. Sophomore Jessica Cooley loaded the bases as she beat out a bunt single.
After Raines was thrown out at home on an Ali Bainbridge fly ball to center, freshman Jessica Offutt cut the Tigers' lead to 4-2 with a two-run double to the gap in left-center.
Junior Ka'ili Smith was hit by a pitch to keep the inning alive. Nesbit, an Acworth, Ga., native, then tied the game as she hit a line drive to left-center that came inches away from clearing the wall to put MSU on top.
"We did a great job battling back. We gave them two runs on a dropped fly ball in the fifth, and it's those little things are the difference in a ballgame. Those are the things we have to clean up," Mississippi State coach Jay Miller, who claimed career win No. 1,000 on Friday, said. "We fought back and we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game, and that's all you can ask for."
Both teams failed to score in the seventh, and Auburn managed to plate the winning run in the top of the eighth on an Amber Harrison single that scored Morgan Estell. Harrison paced Auburn with two hits and two RBI.
Nesbit hit a one-out double in the bottom of the inning, but AU reliever Jenee Loree got a strikeout and centerfielder Caitlin Stangle made a stumbling grab in left-center to rob MSU freshman Heidi Shape of the game-tying hit.
The explosive final few innings came after Schmalz and Bulldog starter Stephanie Becker kept both teams hitless until Auburn broke through with two runs in the top of the fifth.
Lauren Guzman hit a one-out single and Katie Colton drew a two-out walk. Caitlin Schultze hit a ball to center field that MSU's Brittany Gates mishandled, allowing both runs to score.
The Tigers increased the lead to 4-0 off back-to-back home runs by Harrison and Hilary Mavromat that brought Vry to the circle for State.
Vry, a Des Moines, Iowa, native, fell to 8-10 with the loss. She allowed the deciding run in the eighth and three hits over 1.2 innings. Becker tossed 5.2 frames and was touched for four runs (two earned) and three hits. Misty Flesher recorded the final two outs in the eighth, surrendering one hit.
Loree earned the win to improve to 9-3. She held MSU to two hits and struck out five over the final 2.1 innings. Schmalz was touched for the four runs in the sixth and four hits. She struck out nine over the opening 5.2 innings.
The Bulldogs travel to Itta Bena, Miss., on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. game against Mississippi Valley State. State ventures to Tuscaloosa, Ala., next weekend for a three-game series against top-ranked Alabama.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's tennis squad (2-14, 0-10 SEC) fell to 27th ranked Alabama (13-5, 6-3 SEC) on Senior Day, Sunday.
"I would have liked to have seen a little more effort out of our girls today," coach Daryl Greenan said. "You have to give Alabama credit because they played like they were one of the top teams in the league and really brought their best today. I would like to thank Scott Stricklin and Bully for making an appearance at today's match to make things more special for Elizabeth Hall's Senior Day. Elizabeth has give a lot to this program in her four years and we are really going to miss her efforts and leadership."
In doubles action, Lady Bulldog senior Elizabeth Hall competed alongside Jordan Zachary on court 3. After battling to a close 3-2 match, Alabama's 60th ranked pair of Antonia Foehse and Mary Anne Macfarlane pushed their way to an 8-2 victory.
Clinching the doubles point for Alabama at the No. 2 position was the duo of Alex Clay and Taylor Lindsey as they took down MSU's Vivian Pietraroia and Danielle Terpko, 8-0. At the top spot, #15 Alexa Guarachi and Courtney McLane of Alabama took down State's pair of Alexandra Perper and Olesya Tsigvintseva 8-4.
Swinging into singles action, Alabama kept the momentum as 85th ranked Guarachi took down Ryzhova 6-0, 6-1 on court 2. In the third position, Alabama's 111th ranked McLane ousted Terpko in a two-setter 6-2, 6-0. At the No. 4 spot, Tsigvintseva dropped a tough two-set decision to Clay 6-3, 6-0.
In the top spot for Mississippi State was Perper where she dropped a tough two-setter 6-4, 6-1 to 40th ranked Macfarlane of the Crimson Tide. Finishing out the day on court 5 for Mississippi State was freshman Roseline Dion. Dion battled to keep the match alive but Alabama's Lindsey overpowered Dion as she took the match 6-2, 6-3.
MSU defaulted the court 6 singles point to Alabama due to a last minute injury.
Mississippi State returns to action on Saturday, April 16 as they travel to Oxford and take on the University of Mississippi. Match time is slated for 1 p.m. CT.