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MSU softball beats Arkansas again

 

David Miller

 

STARKVILLE -- Courtney Nesbit hit a two-run double, and three pitchers allowed one hit in the Mississippi State softball team''s 2-0 win against the University of Arkansas on Saturday at the MSU Softball Field. 

 

The Bulldogs (14-14, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) clinched the three-game series and shut out the Razorbacks (9-19, 0-7) for the second straight day. MSU won 3-0 Friday night.  

 

The Bulldogs entered the weekend series with eight losses in their past nine games against Razorbacks, including six straight. 

 

"We really needed these wins, especially after coming back from Florida not having a good series down there," said Nesbit, referring to a series sweep at the hands of the Gators. "To come back and get this Arkansas win -- Arkansas'' been the team that''s killed us the past couple of years -- so to get this series win on them is huge." 

 

Nesbit, who has battled a hip flexor injury for a little more than a week, went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and two doubles. Her third-inning drive to left-center field scored Heidi Shape and Ka''ili Smith for the game''s only runs.  

 

Nesbit had a leadoff double to start the sixth. Sam Lenahan''s single put runners on the corners, but they were stranded. 

 

Nesbit strolled gingerly into second base and came out of the game to a ovation from the crowd.  

 

"Sure enough, the kid who can''t run hits two balls to the fence and barely makes it into second," MSU coach Jay Miller said. "A great day for her." 

 

While Miller would have liked to have seen his team deliver more offense -- the Bulldogs have scored eight runs in their past eight games -- he was pleased to see his pitching staff earn a second-straight shutout.  

 

MSU had to go to its bullpen in the second after starter Stephanie Becker was called for her third illegal pitch. Junior Misty Flesher entered and pitched 4 2/3 hitless innings. Flesher struck out five and had a pair of three-up, three-down innings.  

 

Kylie Vry, who started and earned the victory Friday, earned the save after entering with two outs and two runners on base in the sixth.  

 

"The main thing was just trying to stay ahead in the count," Flesher said. "Once I got ahead, it was all in my hands. I could try and make them go for something outside of the zone, and that was beneficial from the start." 

 

Miller said he''s unsure who''ll start at 1 p.m. today in the series finale on FSN.  

 

Becker, who pitched one-plus inning Saturday, is a candidate, as is Vry. Miller ruled out Lindsey Dunlap, who has pitched just five innings this season.  

 

Flesher tired toward the end of her outing, walking two and hitting another in the sixth.  

 

Becker''s problems with illegal pitches mirror those Flesher dealt with last year, though Miller believes the inconsistency with how umpires call the violation doesn''t help pitchers adjust.  

 

With Vry and Flesher as MSU''s top pitchers, Miller hopes Becker can overcome illegal pitches and become a consistent contributor.  

 

"She''s just coming off the ground a little bit," Miller said. "She has to keep that drag foot down for it to be legal. We always think we got it fixed in practice, but then you go out in the game and adrenaline starts pumping a little bit, all of a sudden she starts coming off." 

 

On Friday, Vry tossed a four-hit shutout, and Smith drove in all of MSU''s runs. 

 

Vry, a sophomore, went the distance and struck out eight to improve to 5-7 on the season. Smith went 3-for-3 and drew a bases-loaded walk that made her the 10th player in program history to reach 100 RBIs in a career.

 

 

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