In her first career start, Melissa Massey (1-1) held her own inside the circle, striking out three Huskies in six-and-a-third innings of work, but took the loss on the shoulders of three unearned runs. Wilkerson worked two outs of the fifth inning but got the no decision. UConn starter Barbara Cook (1-1), one day after dropping a heartbreaker to 8th-ranked Arizona State, got the win for the Huskies, scattering six hits and striking out eight Bulldogs.
The Huskies used a pair of hits and a throwing error by rightfielder Kate Jaspers to take a 1-0 lead in the opening frame, but the Bulldogs got a towering blast from McMichael in the bottom of the first to knot the score back up. UConn put runners in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings, but both times Massey regained her composure to close the door on the threat.
However, three defensive errors and three hits led to five runs for the Huskies in the fifth, four of which were of the unearned variety. UConn sent nine batters to the plate in the frame and came out on the positive on a pair of plays at the plate due to two State errors.
The Bulldogs plated a run in the sixth on a leadoff double by Wilkerson and an RBI single by Lindsay Nelson, then added another in the seventh on an RBI single by Wilkerson, before Cook and the Huskies closed the door on the rally.
The five errors marked the most for the Bulldogs in a game since committing five in a loss to Alabama on April 21, 2000. Despite the loss, Mississippi State finished first in its four-team pool, which included a pair of top 10 teams, and will advance to Gold Championship bracket play later today.
UConn 6, #24 Mississippi State 3
Uconn 100 050 0 - 6 8 0
Mississippi State 100 001 1 - 3 6 5
Cook and Bigos; Massey (1,6), Wilkerson and Brown. W - Cook (1-1). L - Massey (1-1). HR - MSU: McMichael.
[Game 4] COLUMBUS, Ga. - 18th-ranked Alabama (11-7) showed their bats in a multi-run third and rallied behind a gem of a pitching performance to defeat 24th-ranked Mississippi State (10-4), 4-0, Saturday evening in the first round of the Gold Championship bracket at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Jennifer Waterman (1-for-2) managed State's only hit of the ballgame in the fifth inning, with only one other Bulldog reaching base in the game. Alabama got a multi-hit performance from both Suzanne Olcott (2-for-4) and Ashley Courtney (2-for-3) and a multi-RBI showing from Emily Currie (1-for-3, 2 RBI).
Bulldog starter Kasey Whitehead (5-3) scattered eight hits over a complete game and struck out five Alabama batters, but took the loss on the shoulders of three earned runs. Alabama starter Erin Wright (4-2) threw seven innings of one-hit ball and just 95 pitches, striking out 10 batters along the way, to nab the victory for Alabama.
Despite taking the loss, Whitehead continued to show her perseverance against all-American hitters, holding third team all-American Suzanne Olcott and second team all-American Jackie McClain to a combined two hits on the night.
The win gave Alabama its ninth-straight against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State's last victory over the Crimson Tide came in the form of a 6-3 decision at the 1999 SEC Tournament in Columbus.
Alabama wasted little time lighting up the scoreboard, using three hits, two of the extra base variety, to plate a trio of runs in the second inning. Ashley Courtney led off the frame with a double to right center, just past the outstretched glove of Iyhia McMichael, and was plated two batters later on a base hit by Angela Johnson, coupled with a two-base fielding error by the Bulldogs. Leah White finished the rally with the next at-bat on a sacrifice fly to rightfield.
Whitehead broke up Wright's perfect game with a leadoff walk in the fifth, then watched as Waterman broke up the no-hitter two batters later on a bloop single down the leftfield line. However, Wright got out of the minor jam with the next two at-bats, getting Jennifer Jessup to pop-out to second base and striking out pinch hitter Blaire Brown.
Courtney reached base on a one-out single in the sixth, then moved to second base on a defensive error by the Bulldogs to give Alabama a runner in scoring position. Although getting Wilkins to pop up to Wilkerson with the next at bat, State allowed the insurance run to score one batter later on an RBI single by Emily Currie.
Mississippi State will return to action Sunday morning when the Bulldogs suit up to face the 13th-ranked Fresno State (9-4) in Gold Consolation bracket play. First pitch is set for 7 a.m. CT at the South Commons Softball Stadium.
#18 Alabama 4, #24 Mississippi State 0
Alabama 030 001 0 - 4 8 0
Mississippi State 000 000 0 - 0 1 4
E. Wright and Prejean; Whitehead and Waterman. W - Wright (4-2). L - Whitehead (5-3). Save - None.
[Game 5] COLUMBUS, Ga. - Thirteenth-ranked Fresno State (10-4) utilized a bevy of Mississippi State (10-5) errors to score three runs, then stuffed a late rally by the Maroon and White in the seventh inning, to oust the 24th-ranked Bulldogs, 3-1, Sunday morning at the NFCA Leadoff Classic Gold Bracket championship in Columbus, Ga.
State got four hits on a 2-for-3 showing from Blaire Brown and a 2-for-4 tally from all-tournament team member Kellie Wilkerson. Kasey Whitehead logged the Bulldogs' only RBI on a 1-for-3 showing at the plate.Fresno State leadoff hitter Tiffany Whipple scored a pair of runs on a 2-for-4 tally at the plate to spark Fresno State.
Despite taking the loss, State starter Melissa Massey (1-2) showed her grit against the perennial national power, scattering five hits and striking out three Fresno State hitters. The freshman from Fayetteville, Tenn., allowed just one earned run on the day. Fresno State starter Leslie Poole (1-1) scattered eight hits and struck out one to nab the victory.
The five errors marked the second time in three games that the Maroon and White Bulldogs collected five miscues and pushed State's error total in the final three games of the tournament to 14. Fresno State's victory also knocked the Bulldogs from their first appearance in the Gold bracket of the nation's premier tournament.
Fresno used two hits and a flurry of State errors to plate a pair of runs in the opening frame. Following a leadoff single by Tiffany Whipple to begin the game, Fresno put a runner in scoring position with the next at-bat on a sac hit by Vanessa Czarnecki. The Maroon and White looked to get the next batter out, but a throwing error by Massey allowed the runner to reach first.
A wild pitch in the next at-bat allowed Whipple to cross the plate with the 1-0 lead for Fresno and Lori Hoffmanís RBI double plated Jamie Southern from second base with the 2-0 lead.
State scratched back in the bottom of the frame, however, utilizing a pair of hard hits up the middle to plate a runner. Wilkerson led off the inning with a single up the middle, but was forced out two batters later on Iyhia McMichaelís fielderís choice. Brown followed with a hard hit up the middle that advanced McMichael to third and Whiteheadís RBI single up the middle brought McMichael across the plate.
Fresno pushed its lead back to two in the fourth on a pair of Mississippi State miscues. Whipple reached base on an errant throw by Massey with two outs then, on a stolen base attempt moments later, Brown's pickoff throw escaped the sophomore catcher's grip and was launched into right-centerfield, allowing Whipple to move to third. Southern's RBI single two batters later plated Whipple with the 3-1 advantage.
Mississippi State will be back in action on Wednesday when the Bulldogs return home to host an afternoon twinbill against Oakland. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 3 p.m. at the Mississippi State Softball Field. Admission is free of charge.
#13 Fresno State 3, #24 Mississippi State 1
Fresno State 200 100 0 - 3 5 1
Mississippi State 100 000 0 - 1 8 5
Poole and West; Massey and Brown. W - Poole (1-1). L - Massey (1-2). Save - None.