Bulldogs Come Up Just Short in DH vs. Florida

Starkville, Miss. – Moral victories don't exist inside the Mississippi State softball program, but the Bulldogs hung with No. 3/4 Florida for two-straight games before falling by scores of 1-0 and 8-5 Wednesday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. The losses dropped the Maroon and White to 14-5 (0-2 SEC), while the Gators improved to 21-1 (2-0 SEC).

"I am super proud of how the Bulldogs came out and gave everything they had," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "Stephanie Becker was great today and absolutely gave us every opportunity to win. We will just have to get back to the drawing board."

Becker (7-2) was sensational in the circle for Bulldogs, giving up a combined three runs in 13.0 innings (1.62 ERA). The junior left-hander suffered the loss in game one despite pitching a complete-game three hitter with a season-high eight strikeouts. The southpaw finished the second game against UF with two runs given up over 5.0 innings. Senior Lindsey Dunlap took the loss in game two against the Orange and Blue, falling to 1-2 on the season.

Junior shortstop Erin Nesbit had a nice SEC opener, going a combined 2-for-5 in the two games with an RBI double and a run. Sophomore Sam Lenahan's team-best six-game hitting streak was snapped in game one, but the third baseman responded with two hits and three RBIs in the second contest.

Deadlocked in a scoreless tie after four innings in the first half of the doubleheader, Florida scored the only run of the game in the top of the fifth. Freshman second baseman Katie Medina led off the inning by drawing a walk on a full count. On the second pitch after that, fellow freshman Jessica Damico tripled to right field. State right fielder Brittany Gates fielded it routinely and hit cutoff Heidi Shape, as the sophomore second baseman turned and hurled it home. The throw to the dish hit senior catcher Ka'ili Smith right in the glove, as she quickly applied the tag to Damico at the plate. Although the helmet of Damico came off during the tag, home-plate umpire Chad Stears ruled her safe for the lone run of the game.

Florida took the momentum from game one and jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first in the nightcap of the double dip.

State responded this time by breaking into the scoring column for the first time of the day after a single by Lenahan allowed Smith to slide safely under the tag of Florida catcher Kelsey Horton.

Horton responded to the missed tag by homering to left field in the top of the second to stretch the Gator lead to 6-1.

The Bulldogs would bite back in the bottom of the second inning as MSU plated four runs on three hits and a UF error. After a leadoff walk by Shape, Nesbit drilled an RBI double to right center. Florida was able to produce two outs before Nesbit advanced to third on a an error. With two down and a runner on third, Smith singled right past Nesbit to allow the junior shortstop to score. Down 6-3, State cut it to one when Lenahan smoked a ball over Medina's head at second for a two-RBI single.

The 6-5 margin would be the closest the Maroon and White would get to Florida, as UF scored two insurance runs for the game's final score.

Starkville's team will return to the Dawg Diamond Friday for the beginning of a three-game series against No. 7/7 Georgia. The Maroon and White host the red and black Bulldogs Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. both days.

For more information regarding the showdown, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB.

Game 1 Stats

Game 2 Stats

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