This softball season the Bulldogs have lived by the mantra that “late innings are our innings.”
On Tuesday night, it was once again late inning heroics that earned Mississippi State the 4-3 win over UAB.
The Bulldogs, who improved to 18-12, plated a run in the sixth inning to tie the game at three, setting the table for Erin Nesbit to deliver the knockout blow to the Blazers (16-11) in the form of a two-strike, two-out double to left, scoring Jessica Cooley from second.
Nesbit was 0-for-3 at the plate entering her final at-bat, but she was determined to come through when the team needed her the most.
“I was having some good at-bats but she was getting me in the end,” Nesbit said. “I just needed to get up there and be more aggressive. I wasn’t going to let her get me a fourth time so I got up there with my two-strike approach and got the hit.”
The approach Nesbit employed typified what head coach Vann Stuedeman has been teaching MSU since her first day on campus, stay in the moment.
“We were focusing just one pitch at a time, every time,” State’s shortstop said. “We’re fighters. This team is going to fight every time and that’s what we did tonight.”
Stuedeman simply gives credit to Nesbit’s hard work.
“Erin Nesbit is a fighter,” Stuedeman said. “She works hard, and the one thing that’s great about Erin is if you come to the game in the fifth inning, you have no idea if she is 4-for-4 or 0-for-4 because she carries her shoulders back, she plays the game with a lot of passion.
“She doesn’t let the bad stuff get to her and she doesn’t let the hype get to her, so I know she’ll be able to come back after this big hit.”
From the circle, State received a solid outing from Stephanie Becker who improved to 10-5 this season. She pitched 6.1 innings of work, allowing one run on three hits. Her lone allowed run came in the first when the Blazers opened the game with a double by Whitney Fletcher and manufactured a run from that point to take the early lead.
State manufactured a run of its own in the home half of the first and again in the third to lead 2-1 after three innings.
Kylie Vry entered the game in the middle of the sixth where the Blazer turned in three doubles and scored a pair, taking the lead 3-2 before the Bulldogs’ rally.
For the evening, MSU managed four runs on seven hits while UAB picked up three runs on six hits while committing five errors.
Mississippi State now turns its attention to the Tennessee Volunteers who travel to Starkville for a three-game set opening on Friday.