ATHENS, Ga. - Brooke Best's RBI double to left center put the finishing touches on a two-run, fourth-inning rally as Mississippi State's softball team (20-15, 3-5 SEC) knocked off 21st-ranked Georgia (35-4, 7-4) and earned a doubleheader split with a 2-1 victory in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the UGA Women's Athletic Complex in Athens, Ga. "> ATHENS, Ga. - Brooke Best's RBI double to left center put the finishing touches on a two-run, fourth-inning rally as Mississippi State's softball team (20-15, 3-5 SEC) knocked off 21st-ranked Georgia (35-4, 7-4) and earned a doubleheader split with a 2-1 victory in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the UGA Women's Athletic Complex in Athens, Ga. ">

'Dogs split a pair with no. 21 Georgia

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01filepicture/softball.jpg" align="left" width="205" height="166"> ATHENS, Ga. - Brooke Best's RBI double to left center put the finishing touches on a two-run, fourth-inning rally as Mississippi State's softball team (20-15, 3-5 SEC) knocked off 21st-ranked Georgia (35-4, 7-4) and earned a doubleheader split with a 2-1 victory in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the UGA Women's Athletic Complex in Athens, Ga.

Kate Jaspers, who scored on Best's clutch hit, paced the Maroon and White at the plate with a 2-for-3 tally, with four other players recording base hits for Mississippi State. Nicole Barber and Kim Wendland both turned in 2-for-3 days at the plate for the Red and Black.

Starter Melissa Massey (4-7), completing her fifth game of the season, scattered eight hits and struck out four to earn the victory for MSU. Georgia starter Michelle Green (13-2), who is ranked among the SEC's top ERA leaders, surrendered a pair of runs on six hits to take the loss for Georgia.

Georgia threatened immediately, using a leadoff single and a stolen base by Barber, the SEC stolen base leader, to move a runner into scoring position, before consecutive wild pitches by Massey allowed Barber to cross the plate to give the Red and Black and early 1-0 lead.

State used a leadoff single by Jennifer Waterman and a throwing error on Jaspers' sacrifice bunt attempt to put runners on the corners with its first two at-bats of the second inning, but Green stopped the threat by getting Krystal Tillman on a pop out to shortstop, a gift out after Jaspers left the first bag early and a swinging strikeout by Best.

State used a leadoff single by McMichael and an errant throw from Lewis after Jennifer Waterman's sac bunt to plate its first run of the game, then used a bunt single by Jaspers and a two-out RBI double from Best to take its first lead of the series, 2-1, in the top of the fourth. The Red and Black threatened to tie the score in the bottom of the frame, getting Barber to third base on a two-out single and a pair of stolen bases, but Massey struck out Lewis looking to slam the door on the threat.

Georgia nearly retook the lead in the fifth when, with a runner on, Kristen Bell got every bit of Massey's first offering. However, MSU leftfielder Krystal Tillman used every bit of her six-foot frame, as well as her leaping ability, to rob Bell at the wall and get the Maroon and White out of the inning. Georgia nearly knotted the score in the sixth as well, getting Amy Brannan to third base with two outs, but first baseman Kellie Wilkerson left her feet to snag Barber's hard grounder up the first base line and get State out of the inning.

Green issued two free passes to the Maroon and White to lead off the seventh, then loaded the bases on a base hit by Jennifer Nelson with the next at-bat. However, Green dug in and retired the next three Mississippi State batters to end a serious threat.

In game one of the twinbill, Georgia rallied for three runs behind a near flawless pitching performance from starter Lacey Gardner to snap an eight-game losing streak to Mississippi State with a 3-1 victory.

Best (1-for-3) managed State's lone hit of the game on a fifth-inning single, with Wilkerson (0-for-2) and Iyhia McMichael reaching base twice on a pair of walks each. Georgia's Wendland plated an RBI on a 2-for-3 hitting day, while teammate Julie Milner walked twice and scored a run on a 1-for-1 day at the plate.

Massey, taking the loss, allowed four hits and two earned runs in two and one-thirds innings of work before giving way to Kasey Whitehead with one out in the third. Whitehead allowed four hits and one earned run in three and two-thirds of relief work. Georgia starter Lacey Gardner (15-2) struck out four and walked four in pitching a one-hit gem for the Red and Black, despite a shaky defense on the left side of the host infield.

State wasted no time getting a runner into scoring position, using a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt by Jennifer Nelson in the first to move Wilkerson to second base. However, Gardner shook off the threat, retiring McMichael on a swinging strikeout and Blaire Brown on a grounder to first, to get out of the inning. The Maroon and White used consecutive one-out errors by Georgia to put a pair of runners on in the third, then loaded the bases on a four-ball walk to McMichael, but Gardner got Brown to ground out to shortstop and erase the threat.

Georgia got a leadoff single from Julie Milner in the bottom of the third, then used a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to third. Michelle Tyree's RBI single with the next at-bat plated Milner from third to give Georgia the 1-0 lead. Consecutive base hits put another runner into scoring position for the Red and Black and chased Massey from the circle.

Lewis reached base on a bunt with the next at-bat and Georgia extended its lead to 2-0 on Wendland's RBI single to left centerfield moments later. Bell lined to third baseman Faith Robinson with the next at-bat. After catching the line shot, Robinson caught the runner off the bag and tagged the third base bag to record State's 17th double play of the campaign and get the Maroon and White out of the inning.

Georgia got a leadoff double and a one-out free pass in the fourth, then moved both runners into scoring position on Amy Brannan's sacrifice bunt. Whitehead got ahead of Tyree on an 0-2 count, but her wild pitch moments later brought Shannon McKeon across the plate to push the Georgia lead out to 3-0. Tyree flew out to centerfield on the next offering to end the threat.

Best broke up Gardner's no-hitter with a leadoff single in the fifth, then State moved pinchrunner Amy Mosley into scoring position with Jennifer Jessup's grounder to second base. After getting Wilkerson on a fly out to left field, Garner surrendered her first run, this of the unearned variety, one batter later when Tyree's throw following Jennifer Nelson's roller sailed well above Wendland's head at first base.

Mississippi State will return to action Sunday afternoon when the Bulldogs return to the Georgia Women's Athletic Complex to finish out their series with nationally-ranked Georgia. First pitch of the series finale is slated for a 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. CT) start time and is set to be regionally televised by SEC-TV (Fox Sports Net South).

GAME 1 - #21 Georgia 3, Mississippi State 1
Mississippi State 000 010 0 - 1 1 0
Georgia 002 100 x - 3 8 3
Massey, Whitehead (3) and Brown; Gardner and McKeon. W - Gardner (15-2). L - Massey (3-7). 2B: UGA - McKeon.

GAME 2 - Mississippi State 2, #21 Georgia 1
Mississippi State 000 200 0 - 2 6 0
Georgia 100 000 0 - 1 8 2
Massey and Waterman; Hawkins, Green (1) and McKeon. W - Massey (4-7). L - Green (13-2). 2B: MSU - Best.


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