STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State closes the non-conference portion of the 2011 softball schedule on Tuesday, traveling to Birmingham for a 4 p.m. first pitch against Samford.
The Bulldogs take a 23-29 overall record and 9-16 SEC mark into the contest. Despite suffering three tough setbacks to No. 21 LSU in last weekend's home finale, the Dawgs locked up the eight seed in the May 12-14 SEC Tournament in Oxford.
Tickets can be purchased by going to www.mstateathletics.com/softball and clicking the SEC Tournament link on the right side.
Following the midweek trek to Birmingham, the Bulldogs wrap the regular season with a three-game league set against No. 4 Georgia beginning Friday in Athens.
Junior Ka'ili Smith paced Mississippi State last weekend against LSU. Her .444 batting average in the three-game series propelled her into the team lead with a .346 tally. The Kapolei, Hawaii, native, who has hit .462 in the last four games, has notched four doubles, a triple, two home runs and 24 RBI this season.
Two days after playing her final home game as a Bulldog, senior Ali Bainbridge takes the field for the final time in her home area of Birmingham. The Vestavia Hills native has enjoyed a banner year at the plate in her swan song, hitting .362 with a career-best 13 doubles, four triples, 20 stolen bases and 46 runs scored.
Bainbridge, who matched a personal best with four home runs, has also drawn 38 walks, tying her with former MSU all-American Iyhia McMichael for fifth-most in a season.
Fellow senior Courtney Nesbit has also posted career-best numbers this season. The Acworth, Ga., native heads into the week, which includes her final stop in her home state, boasting personal highs in batting average (.308), doubles (9), triples (3), home runs (8) and RBI (42).
In the circle, the Bulldogs have been riding the arm of sophomore Stephanie Becker. The Aurora, Ill., native has drawn the starting nod in the last six-straight games and eight out of the last 10. Becker has a 7-9 record and 4.19 ERA in 108.2 innings of work.
Her 81 strikeouts are two back of the team lead held by fellow sophomore Kylie Vry. Vry, a Des Moines, Iowa, native, leads the Dawgs with eight wins and a 4.13 ERA in 117 innings.
Mississippi State holds a 12-2 advantage in the series that is being renewed for the first time since 2007. The two teams split a pair of games in 2007, with State claiming a 7-0 win in Starkville before falling 3-0 in Birmingham a month later.
Samford sits at 11-37 this season after dropping six-straight games. The Birmingham-based Bulldogs are paced at the plate by Nicole Bobrowski, who is hitting .310 with four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI.
Amanda Jordan tops Samford with seven home runs and 18 RBI despite hitting just .211 on the year.
Kayla Burris has seen the majority of the innings for the Bulldogs. She holds an 8-14 record and 4.45 ERA, and she has struck out 91.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State steps away from Southeastern Conference baseball competition Tuesday when the Bulldogs (25-18/8-13 SEC) take on longtime non-conference foe South Alabama (22-21) in a 6 p.m. game at USA's Stanky Field.
Tuesday's game begins a four-game road run for the Diamond Dogs, who this weekend travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for a three-game SEC weekend series against the Tennessee Volunteers (22-20/5-16 SEC). Eight of State's next nine game dates area way from Dudy Noble Field. The 18-station MSU Baseball Radio Network will carry the broadcast of all remaining Mississippi State baseball games.
Sophomore right-hander Andrew Busby (1-0, 8.49) is scheduled to make his second career start and lead a split MSU pitching crew in Tuesday's game against South Alabama. For South Alabama, junior right-hander Jarrett Bailey (0-0, 14.54) will be making his initial start of the year.
Including a 9-5 win at Dudy Noble Field in 2010, Mississippi State has claimed eight of its last 10 meetings with South Alabama and owns a 39-24 all-time lead in a series that got its start in 1976. This year's MSU-USA matchup is the 49th with Steve Kittrell as the Jaguars' head coach. Kittrell will be stepping down as head coach following the 2011 campaign, his 28th as the South Alabama skipper.
SEC batting leader Jarrod Parks went 4-for-11 last weekend against Alabama to extend his career-best and team-leading hitting streak to 16 games. The senior third baseman from Madison, Miss., paces the Southeastern Conference with a .406 batting average and a .530 on-base percentage and has hit safely in 36 of his 42 games played.
Outfielder/pitcher C.T. Bradford (.308) leads Southeastern Conference freshmen in hits with 51 hits.