After rallying to beat Mississippi Valley State in the first elimination game of the Mobile Regional in the 2013 NCAA Softball Championship, the Mississippi State Bulldogs could not turn the trick a second time, dropping a season-ending, 3-0 decision to the hosting South Alabama Jaguars Saturday at Jaguar Field in Mobile.
Farish Beard threw a gem for South Alabama, tossing a complete game, one-hitter and picking up 14 strikeouts.
"Farish is just incredible. 14 Ks--That is just an incredible job," said Mississippi State coach Vann Stuedeman. "I can't say enough great things about her. She is tough, and she just pitched extremely well tonight."
South Alabama, playing as the visiting team, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. After Haley Fagan and Meghan Collins drew walks to open the inning, Heidi Shape snagged a Alex Breeden popup in foul territory, but a subsequent throwing error allowed Stephanie Pilkington, who had come on to run for Fagan, to cross the plate.
South Alabama increased their lead in the third when Brittany Fowler drew a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI triple by Julie Moss to chase starter Stephanie Becker and give South Alabama a 2-0 lead. Moss scored when Kaitlyn Griffith slapped a single off of Jacey Punches to push the Jaguar lead to 3-0.
The Bulldogs looked to have an opportunity to rally in the bottom of the fifth when Logan Foulks slapped a one-out single and Sam Lenahan followed with a walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Beard struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Earlier in the day, the Bulldogs had four outs remaining in their season before Jessica Cooley smacked a solo shot over the center field wall to tie their contest with Mississippi Valley State at 1-1, and Briana Bell scored on a Shelby Fisher single to provide the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth on the way to a 2-1 victory.
The Delta Devilettes took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Kimberly Spivey drew a lead off walk and scored on an RBI single by Nicole Burr.
Alison Owen tossed a complete game for the Bulldogs, allowing only two hits and striking out 13 hitters.
Defeating Mississippi Valley State gave the Bulldogs their first NCAA tournament victory since an 8-3 win over Stony Brook in the Tempe Regional in 2008.
South Alabama and Florida State will meet in a rematch of the third game of the regional, a contest won by the Seminoles 2-1. That game is scheduled for 2:30 pm Sunday, and should the Jaguars win to force a deciding game, it is set for a 5 pm start. Should the Seminoles win, they will take the regional crown.
The winner of the Mobile Regional will face the winner of the Austin Regional where Texas needs one win against South Carolina to advance.