STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – In a span of six minutes, Mississippi State (32-21, 8-16) experienced every emotion possible in college softball.
With the bases loaded and her team four outs away from defeat, MSU junior Heidi Shape pulled a two-RBI single down the left-field line, giving the Bulldogs a slim 2-1 lead. Six minutes later in the bottom of the sixth, Texas A&M All-American Mel Dumezich hit a game-winning, three-run home run.
The 4-2 victory by the No. 14 Aggies (39-14, 10-13 SEC) eliminated the Bulldogs’ chances of making the 2013 SEC Tournament. Starkville’s Team will learn its NCAA postseason fate during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, to be televised live May 12 on ESPNU at 9 p.m. CT.
“You have to love the fight in these Bulldogs,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “That is what we have been saying all year. We will fight to see that we make the NCAA Tournament. We have had some really big wins this season.”
Dumezich also picked up the win in the circle, moving to 26-6 in her final collegiate season with the complete-game victory. The righty struck out 10, walked one and gave up two runs on six hits and a walk. State right-hander Alison Owen suffered the loss to fall to 16-11, giving up four runs on a pair of long balls. The junior fanned five and walked one.
After two and a half scoreless innings, A&M catcher Meagan May put the home team on the board first with a solo homer to left. The two teams played scoreless softball in the fourth and fifth, before the drama unfolded.
Freshman Loryn Nichols stood on third and junior Jessica Offutt covered first when fellow junior Sam Lenahan loaded the bases for the Bulldogs thanks to a two-out walk. With the bases juiced and the crowd of nearly 1,000 channeling the 12th Man, Shape fought off several pitches before sneaking a single behind the hot corner at third for a clutch two-run base knock. State had a chance to add to it with a pair in scoring position, but redshirt junior Erin Nesbit popped up to the catcher for the third and final out of the frame.
The Aggie Softball Complex sat silently between innings, before the No. 14 team in the country put hope back in the hearts of Texans with some sixth-inning magic of its own. Three-hole hitter Amber Garza reached first as the leadoff hitter when she was plunked by a pitch. Cali Lanphear joined her on the base paths with a zero-out bunt single, before Owen retired two straight Aggies. With the tension as high as the southwest sun, Dumezich sent Owen’s first pitch over the wall in straightaway center for the game-winner, sending one team wearing Maroon and White into euphoria, and the other into anguish.
Stuedeman’s squad will finish the regular season Monday with a non-conference contest at Houston. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Free live audio streaming will be provided through HSTV as usual, featuring MSU play-by-play caller Anthony Craven. For live in-game updates of the regular series finale, 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.