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RIDGELAND, Miss. – Trailing by a run with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Mississippi State softball senior Jessica Cooley crushed a two-run home run, carrying the Bulldogs to a 3-2 win against UAB Wednesday night at Freedom Ridge Park. The Bulldogs improved to 23-12 overall, while the Blazers fell to 24-8 on the year.

Senior Jessica Cooley belted a big home run in the 5th inning to lead the Bulldogs to victory over UAB.

“It was another great game between the two teams, and it was important for RPI purposes,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “We were glad to pull it out tonight.”

In a matchup of two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago featuring a pair of squads in the top 35 of the RPI, the Bully Bombers who struck first on the scoreboard. Junior catcher Sam Lenahan started off in the opening stanza with a deep solo shot on her second pitch, giving the home team an early 1-0 lead.

The Blazers tied it up in the fifth with solo homers by Chandler Orr and Amy Dennis.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, MSU freshman Loryn Nichols doubled down the left-field line to put the tying run in scoring position. Following the second out of the frame, Cooley stepped to the dish. Three pitches in, the Birmingham Bombers sent a 1-2 offering deep into the Mississippi Night, scoring the game-winning run with her fourth long ball of the season.

“Jessica is one of those players you pull for all the time,” Stuedeman said. “I am so happy for her to pull us through.”

Junior right-hander Alison Owen relieved senior lefty Stephanie Becker in the top of the fifth to pick up her 12th triumph in 2013 (12-5), striking out seven Blazers in eight batters faced to seal the victory.

Starkville’s Team now travels to the Sunshine State for a three-game set starting Friday at 5 p.m. CT at No. 3 Florida. The Bulldogs play the Gators against Saturday at 2 p.m. CT, before wrapping up the series Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.

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