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Becker & Vry Combine To Dominate Arkansas In Doubleheader Sweep

Fayetteville, Ark. – Good Friday turned into a great Friday at Bogle Park as the Mississippi State softball team (21-18, 5-13 SEC) swept host Arkansas (18-18, 2-14 SEC) in an afternoon doubleheader. The Bulldogs defeated the Razorbacks in the first game of the three-game series, 2-1, before clinching the series with a 7-2 triumph in game two.

“Anytime we can earn wins on the road in this conference, it says a lot about the heart and grit of these Bulldogs,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “We played two quality games today, including having our backs against the wall in the first matchup. I am super proud of our ballclub.”

Junior left-handed pitchers Stephanie Becker and Kylie Vry combined to throw two complete-game three-hitters, striking out 17 total batters en route to just three Arkansas runs Friday. State’s defense was flawless, playing errorless softball for the fourth time in the past five contests. Arkansas’ defense on the other hand committed five errors on the day, with six of the nine runs being scored off its pitching being unearned.

In the first half of the doubleheader, sophomore center fielder Jessica Offutt knocked out a career-high tying three hits with her family in the stands, including a run scored. Redshirt senior designated player Brittany Bell went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run, while junior left fielder Jessica Cooley drove in a run as well.

Becker dominated in the circle for the Maroon and White in the first game, pitching her second complete-game three hitter in conference play. The 6-footer surrendered just one run, a solo shot by Arkansas left fielder Jennifer Rambo in the second inning. The Bulldogs trailed by a run for most of the game, but Becker kept her squad in the game by retiring nine-consecutive batters starting in the bottom of the third.

With the Maroon and White down one in the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs flipped a switch in the late innings. Offutt started off the stanza with a base hit to right field. Bell then stepped up to the plate and blooped a single to shallow center. Both Arkansas’ center fielder and second baseman tried to make a play on the ball, but couldn’t, as Offutt broke for third. Razorback shortstop Clarisa Navarro picked up the ball and hurled it to third, but threw it well over her teammate’s head, allowing Offutt to tap the dish for the tying run. With Bell advancing to third in all of the chaos, she scored the game-winning run after Cooley drove her in with a first-pitch groundout to Navarro at short.

Arkansas threatened one last time in the bottom of the seventh, which started with Rambo reaching after being hit by a pitch. Arkansas outfielder Sierra Bronkey moved the tying run over to third with a no-out pinch-hit double, putting the game-winning run on second. Becker battled forward with two back-to-back popouts, before loading the bases with a walk. With the tying run on third and the winning run on second, Becker forced Navarro to groundout to second, giving MSU its fourth win in conference play.

The Razorbacks responded to the game one loss by plating a pair in the first inning of game two. After a scoreless second, the Bulldogs barked back with three runs in the third thanks to a trio of home miscues. Bully bedlam started when senior right fielder Brittany Gates drew her second walk of the day to begin the frame. In the leadoff spot for the first time in 2012, Bell reached first on a bunt single. In attempting to field the throw at first, Arkansas second baseman Maddie Reese failed to catch it properly, as the ball dribbled to right field and Gates moved to third. Bell then stole second as Razorbacks’ catcher Jayme Gee threw it to Navarro at short in order to catch Gates bolting for home. The throw to Navarro sailed into left field, allowing Gates to score as Bell trotted to third.

With the Arkansas lead cut in half at 2-1, senior Ka’ili Smith earned a base on balls for State. Runners stood at the corners for sophomore Sam Lenahan, who executed a perfect suicide squeeze. Bell scored easily as Arkansas pitcher Chelsea Cohen threw it to first. The throw went above the first baseman’s head and into the MSU bullpen, allowing Smith to also score for the visitors’ third run of game two.

The Bulldogs added another run to their lead in the top of the fifth. Smith and Lenahan hit back-to-back singles to left field with one out. After a popup to shortstop by Cooley, Shape grounded it to second with two outs, but reached after Reese bobbled it and threw it away over the first baseman’s head. The error allowed Smith to run across home to make it a 4-2 advantage in favor of the Maroon and White.

Not willing to let up, MSU added three insurance runs in the seventh to give the game its final score of 7-2.

Vry had improved to an even 6-6 in 2012 with her best outing since a complete-game two-hitter at South Carolina on March 13. The southpaw from Iowa tossed complete-game three-hitter that saw her give up two runs on two to the first three batters, before giving up just one hit the rest of the game. After fanning nine batters total in her previous seven outings, Vry struck out a season-high 11 Friday.

In her first time in the leadoff spot this year, Bell went 2-for-4 with a run scored in game two. Smith also had a nice second half of the doubleheader, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a career-high tying three runs scored. Freshman third baseman Courtney Vanlandingham made her third start as a college softball player, cranking out her first career double for the Maroon and White.



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