The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldog softball roles over Jackson State


With only three conference series left this season, the Mississippi State softball team is craving every win coming down the home stretch. Mid-week, non-conference games have the capability of setting the stage for the important weekend series, and the Diamond Dogs have keyed in on these games, winning their last five. 

After scoring 11 runs in the process of taking a series from Arkansas last weekend, the Bulldog bats continued to pop Tuesday night as the team scored 12 runs against Jackson State in just four innings. Junior Jessica Cooley added her team-leading 12th and 13th home runs, and senior Ka’ili Smith recorded four RBIs to power the MSU offense.

Junior pitcher Kylie Vry picked up the win and moved to 7-6 on the season. JSU started out on top, scoring three runs in the first inning, but it did not take long for State to take the lead. The girls scored eight runs in the bottom of the inning-the most they have scored in the first inning all season.

Smith said the team always wants to win each inning, which is their mentality in this game.

“We didn’t come out strong on defense, and we wanted to get it back. The first inning they scored three, so we had to score more than that,” Smith said.

Vry shutout the Tigers the rest of the game, and the offense gave her four more insurance runs in the third inning with RBIs from senior Brittany Gates, Smith and Cooley.

In Cooley’s last five at-bats, she is 5-5 with four home runs and one double. The hot-hitter is second in the SEC in home runs and said she is clicking right now.

“I think our team right now is starting to peak, and that’s what you want to do going into the end of the season. We’re having great hitting, defense and pitching, and Vann (Stuedeman) always says that when we get all of those together, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, and this is the time that’s happening,” Cooley said. “Our team is gelling together right now, and I think the rest of the season we’re going to be up on top.”

The Bulldogs could not have picked a better time to be clicking as they prepare for a road trip to Ole Miss this weekend. The Rebels are 3-11 in conference play, so the Dogs must win this series to stay in front of them in the SEC West.

Vry and fellow junior pitcher Stephanie Becker have worked out a solid balance on the mound, both being ready to go at any time. But with the run support being as good as it has been lately, they can play pressure-free softball.

Vry said she feels completely relaxed on the mound when the offense if clicking, and it is a lot more fun when everyone is hitting.

“We (Vry and Becker) both have each other’s backs. We both know if one’s struggling, the other one’s going to come in and pick her up, so it’s nice to have that camaraderie,” she said. “I think offensively we are ready to go into this weekend. The bats are the best I’ve ever seen them, and everything’s coming together well.”

This weekend’s rivalry matchup will be the first for State’s new coaching staff. Ole Miss has a new staff as well, so the long-awaited rivalry weekend is finally here for both squads. Although games against the Black Bears are always anticipated, this series carries a lot of weight in the conference standings.

Knowing that, Stuedeman said it is crucial to continue to play one pitch at a time because every game matters.

“Every game is huge, and that’s how we look at it. It will be a fun college softball atmosphere, and I encourage all of the Maroon faithful to show up in Oxford and represent the Bulldog Nation,” Stuedeman said. “I encourage people who haven’t been out to see softball, because it’s fast paced, fun, the girls love it and they have a lot of passion for the sport. I expect it to be a dog fight in Oxford this weekend.”

First pitch tonight is set for 6 p.m. with game times at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday respectively. Sunday’s game will be televised on Fox Sports South.

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Bulldog softball roles over Jackson State