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.