STARKVILLE, Miss. – South Carolina (28-20, 5-14 SEC) took advantage of two critical second chances and added on three runs late in an 8-3 defeat of Mississippi State (30-17, 7-12 SEC) Friday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. Seven of the Gamecocks' eight runs came with two outs.
Scoreless in the top of the second, MSU senior left-hander Stephanie Becker struck out the first two batters, before issuing a two-out walk to Ashlyn Masters. The southpaw had two strikes on seven-hole hitter Kelley Dillon, before Dillon connected on her second home run of the season, giving the Gamecocks an early 2-0 lead.
The two teams played even softball in the third and fourth before a fifth-inning error proved costly for the Maroon and White. Becker had two outs again on USC, before leadoff hitter Samie Garcia extended the inning by reaching first on a MSU throwing error. The Bulldog miscue put two on the bags for Alaynie Page, who sent a liner down the left-field line. State left fielder Jessica Offutt went all-or-nothing on the hard-hit ball, coming up just short on an all-out dive. The ball raced to the wall in left as Page cleared the bases with an inside-the-park home run.
"We could not catch a break," Vann Stuedeman said. "This game is a game of inches. One good bounce one way or another could be a totally different ballgame."
Junior second baseman Heidi Shape crushed her third home run of the season in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-2, before Carolina responded with three runs on four hits in the top of the seventh. Jessica Offutt scored the last run of the game with an RBI double to the gap in left in the final frame.
South Carolina's Julie Sarratt tossed her team-leading eighth complete-game of the season in the circle, improving to 10-5 on the year. Sarratt gave up three runs on five hits and six walks. Becker suffered the loss for MSU in her fourth complete game of 2013, falling to 10-7 in her final campaign for the Maroon and White. Becker struck out eight and gave up just as many runs, with five of them being earned.
Shape (2-for-3, two RBIs, home run) and Offutt (1-for-4, double, RBI) were responsible for the Bulldogs' runs. Senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-2, two walks, run) and freshman Kayla Winkfield (1-for-2) also had hits for the home squad. Redshirt sophomore Briana Bell reached base twice with walks, while junior Logan Foulks drew a base on balls as well and scored on Shape's home run.
Starkville's Team continues its series vs. South Carolina Saturday at 1 p.m. Admission is free, but for those who cannot attend, free live audio as well as video will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive). For live in-game updates of the series, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.
TRACK & FIELD
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – To complete day two of the historic Penn Relays, the Mississippi State track and field team posted six Top 10 finishes, highlighted by Top 5 times in the men's and women's sprint medleys.
The Bulldog sprint medley quartet of Tavaris Tate, Jarrett Samuels, Daundre Barnaby and Brandon McBride clocked a 3:18.32 on Friday at Franklin Field to finish second out of 34 teams. In similar fashion, the MSU women finished fifth in the college sprint medley championship. Brittney Covington, Erica Bougard, Jody-Ann Muir and Kanishia Carey finished with a time of 3:52.78.
Entering the meet as the sixth-ranked 4x400-meter relay team in the nation, Tate, Randy Patterson, Barnaby and McBride broke their season-best record (3:05.35) set last month at the Texas Relays. The foursome finished third in today's preliminaries after posting a 3:05.15 and will compete in tomorrow's championship finals set for 6 p.m.
Later in the day, freshman Scottie Hearns proved his leadership on the track as he finished third in a field of 50 hurdlers. His time of 51.76 in the college 400-meter hurdles championships placed him ahead of teammate Nathan Arnett (54.15), who finished 29th.
Maroon and White distance athletes also saw action on day two, as Chloe Phillips, Fabienne Amrhein, Emma Neigel and Renee Masterson teamed up to race a 18:20.90 in the college 4x1500-meter championship. The quartet's time landed them a spot in seventh, while adding another commendable finish to MSU's afternoon.
Lady Bulldog Ebony Brinker was the only State athlete to see field action on Friday. Brinker leaped 40-09.50 in the triple jump, just a quarter of an inch shy of her personal best, to finish in fourth.
"Our athletes competed with a purpose today," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "Now they need to focus and prepare for the last day of competition, because we want to end this meet on a high note. The atmosphere will be electric tomorrow, and we need to match that with an equally electrifying performance."
Competition will resume on Saturday as Piotr Antosik starts the day off for the Bulldogs at 11 a.m. in the javelin throw. For live updates on tomorrow's action, follow MSU track and field on Twitter (@msutracksarah) and visit www.pennrelays.com