'Dogs down No. 21 Georgia to take series in Athen

ATHENS, Ga. - Mississippi State's softball team (21-15, 4-5 SEC) rallied for four runs with two outs in the fourth, then held back a strong surge by 21st-ranked Georgia (35-5, 7-5) in the later innings to post its second straight upset of the SEC East leader and take the three-game series from the host Red and Black Sunday afternoon at the UGA Women's Athletic Complex.

Three different players recorded multiple-hit performances for Mississippi State, with Jennifer Waterman collecting a pair of RBIs on a 1-for-2 clip with a walk. Three different players also recorded multiple hits for Georgia.

State reliever Kasey Whitehead (11-8) came on in the second and scattered six hits and allowed one run to earn the win for the Bulldogs. Kellie Wilkerson worked a hitless seventh inning to record her 25th career save and become the NCAA's new career saves leader. Georgia reliever Lacey Gardner (15-3) blew a save and lost after allowing four earned runs on five hits in just three innings of work.

Georgia lit up the leftfield scoreboard immediately, utilizing a fielding error by MSU second baseman Brooke Best, along with a stolen base by SEC stolen base leader Nicole Barber, to put a runner into scoring position. Wendland gave Georgia a 1-0 lead with the next at-bat on an RBI single to centerfield, then Massey loaded the bases on free passes to the next two batters. Michelle Green's sac fly in the Red and Black's sixth at-bat of the inning extended the lead to 2-0.

Massey was chased from the circle after a free pass to begin the second, but Georgia used a single by Barber and a fielder's choice bunt by Katie Lewis in the next two at-bats to load the bases for the second-straight inning. However, Whitehead calmed the storm and retired the next two batters to escape the inning. The Red and Black put another runner on the basepaths in the fourth, using a leadoff single from Amy Brannan and a sac bunt from Michelle Tyree to get Brannan into scoring position, but Whitehead used two groundouts from Barber and Wendland to slam the door.

The Maroon and White got consecutive two-out singles in the fifth off of Gardner, then used an intentional walk issued to McMichael to juice the bases. Gardner beaned Jaspers with the next at-bat to bring State's first run across the plate and Waterman followed with a two-run double to give MSU a 3-2 lead. Krystal Tillman's RBI single to left center plated Jaspers to extend State's lead out to 4-2, but Gardner got Best, the ninth batter of the frame, to ground out and get out of the inning.

Georgia put together a threat in the bottom of the sixth, getting a pair of runners into scoring position on a pair of singles and a pass ball, then loaded the bases when Whitehead issued an intentional walk to Wendland. Whitehead issued her second consecutive walk, this time unintentional, to Kristen Bell to bring a run across the plate, but got out of the inning with the next at-bat when she got catcher Shannon McKeon on a foul fly to third base.

The Red and Black got a double from Michelle Green to lead off the seventh and chase Whitehead in favor of Wilkerson, who got Julie Milner to pop out to first base, before Georgia moved pinchrunner Pam Stewart to third on Amy Brannan's groundout to second base. However, Wilkerson got Michelle Tyree to ground out to end the game.

Mississippi State will return to action on Friday when the Bulldogs return home to host the Tennessee Lady Vols in a three-game series at the Mississippi State Softball Field. The two will open the series on Friday with a single game at 6 p.m. and will close out the set in a 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon doubleheader.

Mississippi State 4, #21 Georgia 3
Mississippi State 000 040 0 - 4 7 1
Georgia 200 001 0 - 3 7 0
Massey, Whitehead (2) and Waterman; Urban, Gardner (5) and McKeon. W - Whitehead (11-8). L - Gardner (15-3). Save - Wilkerson (7). 2B: UGA - Green.


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