STARKVILLE, Miss. - Playing their final home games this weekend, Mississippi State senior Sammie Jo Bailey collected four hits and five RBI and Kelsey Nurnberg tossed a two-hit shutout to lead the Bulldog softball team to 6-2 and 8-0 wins over in-state rival Ole Miss.
Junior Chelsea Bramlett, who went 3-for-6 with an RBI and three runs scored, stole two bases Saturday to pass Iyhia McMichael for MSU's career stolen-base record. The Cordova, Tenn., native stole career bases 142 and 143 Saturday while becoming the first MSU player to steal 50 bases in a season.
The pair of wins kept the Bulldogs' (26-26, 8-19 SEC) NCAA Tournament hopes alive despite Auburn securing the eighth spot in next week's SEC Tournament with a 6-1 win over LSU Saturday afternoon.
State swept the doubleheader in front of a crowd of 851 which ranks as the fourth-highest in MSU Softball Field history. It was the second time in three weeks that the Bulldogs played in front of one of the school's top-10 largest crowds. A school seventh-most 662 attended the Bulldogs' April 8 twin bill against South Carolina as part of the school's Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions Bank.
Nurnberg improved to 10-10 on the year as she held the Rebels (23-29, 7-20 SEC) to two hits while striking out two and walking one in the complete-game effort. Nurnberg's dominating performance followed another stellar effort from freshman Lindsey Dunlap in the afternoon's opening game.
Dunlap ran her record to 16-14 with her seventh win in her last nine starts. The Hueytown, Ala., native went the distance and allowed a pair of seventh-inning runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
"Lindsey and Kelsey did outstanding on the mound for us. They really set the tone for both games today," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "We put runs on the scoreboard in the first inning of both games, and our offense didn't let up which is a good sign for our ball club."
The Bulldog offense staked Dunlap to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game one. Bramlett led-off the game with a bunt single back to UM starter Becky Nye.
Nye (15-19) went the distance, allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits with a strikeout and four walks.
After setting the school's career stolen-base record, Bramlett scored on a Brittany Bell base hit up the middle. Bell stole second and took third on a Ka'ili Smith ground-out before coming home with State's second run on a Bailey double to left-center.
Mississippi State took advantage of two Rebel errors in the fourth to plate the deciding three runs. Freshman Brittany Gates started the inning with a one-out single. Bramlett followed with a bunt to UM third baseman Ashley Dowdy, but Dowdy's throw sailed high and into the area that holds the tarp, allowing Gates to move to third and Bramlett to second.
Bell lined a base hit to left that scored Gates and put MSU up 3-0. Bramlett initially held up at third on the hit, but she came home when Ole Miss left fielder Alyssa McGovern mishandled the ball. After stealing second and moving to third on a Smith infield single, Bell gave the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead as she scored on Bailey's sacrifice fly to right field.
Lisa Conchos went 2-for-3 and drove in both runs to pace the Rebels at the plate in game one.
The State offense continued its hot hitting in game two, putting together a second straight nine-hit performance. State added the only run it would need in the first inning as Bailey's two-out base hit to left field scored Bramlett after she was hit by a pitch and stole second.
The Bulldogs broke the game open for Nurnberg with four more runs in the second off Rebel starter Lindsey Perry. Perry was struck for eight runs (four earned) on nine hits with five strikeouts in falling to 6-9 on the season.
With one out in the inning, sophomores Jessie Spain and Courtney Nesbit reached on consecutive errors by the Rebels. Sophomore Allie Heon put MSU up 2-0 with an RBI single up the middle that plated Spain.
Bramlett loaded the bases as she reached on an error by UM shortstop Cali Overbeck. Nesbit scored on a Bell ground ball to Overbeck between short and third. Overbeck attempted to retire Heon at third, but her throw was late allowing the bases to remain loaded. Smith capitalized on the opportunity, driving a base hit to center field that brought home Heon and Bramlett to extend the lead to 5-0.
MSU added another run in the third when Jessie Bailey led off the inning with a base hit to right field and scored on Bramlett's two-out single through the left side of the infield.
A pair of extra-base hits lifted State to its final pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Smith just missed a home run as she led off the inning with a double off the top of the wall in left field. Sammie Jo Bailey brought her home with a two-bagger to the wall in right-center. Gates, who pinch-ran for Bailey, advanced to third on an Ali Bainbridge sacrifice bunt before giving State its final eight-run advantage on Jessie Bailey's base hit up the middle.
The Bulldogs go for a second straight series sweep of the Rebels Sunday at 1 p.m. MSU seniors Sammie Jo Bailey, Kelsey Nurnberg and Gina McCloud will be honored prior to the game. Admission to all Mississippi State home softball games is free.
Track & Field
OXFORD, Miss. - Mississippi State men's and women's track and field teams finished their regular season meet strong after impressive showing at Mississippi Open, hosted by Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs used the meet as a preparation for the SEC Championship, which will be held in Gainesville, Fla. May 14-17.
Emanuel Mayers and Dwight Mullings both highlighted the Open by improving their national time.
Sophomore Mayers placed second in the 400-meter hurdles to earn a season best time of 51.07 seconds. Mayers is also second all-time for MSU.
Mullings finished the men's 400-meter run in 46.53 seconds earning second place and a season best time.
"In all we had a pretty good day today," coach Schmidt said. "We are looking forward to competing in the SEC Championship and leave a significant mark."
The Lady Bulldogs' Anais DeChamps and Dominique Lockhart, both 1,500-meters contender, earned season-best at 4:40.07 and 4:44.18, respectively.
LaQuinta Aaron also earned a season-best in the women's 200-meter run with a time of 24.31 to achieve second place.