Mississippi State 2, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1

May 21, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas- Senior third baseman Tanelda McDonald ripped a two-out single to right field, scoring Jessica Jessup from second with the winning run, as Mississippi State posted a 2-1 eight-inning victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday evening in a NCAA softball elimination game at Red and Charline McCombs Field.

The extra-inning win vaults Mississippi State (35-30) into the regional championship game on Sunday, May 22 against the tourney¹s No. 4 seeded Texas Longhorns (44-11) at McCombs at noon (Central). Texas is 2-0, and needs just one win to clinch the regional championship. MSU will have to defeat Texas twice Sunday to earn the regional title.

TAMUCC ended its season with a 42-11 record. The Islanders were 1-2 in regional action.

With the game tied 1-1, Jessup led off the top of the eighth with a single and advanced to second on an infield groundout. After a flyout, McDonald followed with her game-winning hit.

In relief, MSU freshman righthander Ragan Blake picked up the win. Blake (4-2) threw the last 4.1 innings, yielding one run (earned) on four hits while striking out one and walking none. She relieved sophomore starter Stephanie Comeaux, who left after 3.2 innings of work, allowing one hit and fanning three. Comeaux left due to tendonitis in her forearm. Taking the loss was TAMUCC senior righty Sarah Pauly (37-7), who threw every inning of the Islanders three NCAA games. Pauley gave up two earned runs on nine hits. She walked no one and struck out four.

With the score 0-0 in the top of the fifth, MSU sophomore rightfielder Katie Cooley belted a one-out, 210-foot solo home run to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. One inning later, TAMUCC knotted the game at 1-1. After a leadoff single from righfielder Holly Kellogg, Kellogg moved to second when first baseman Jennifer Golden was hit by a pitch. Catcher Nekkia Neash then singled up the middle, with the ball going past the dives of the middle infielders, to drive in Kellogg from second with the tying run.

MSU also threatened in the top of the seventh. Cooley hit a one-out double to deep center. Cooley was stranded on second when Pauley centerfielder Michelle Kinney struck out looking and catcher Blair Geddings hit a soft liner back to Pauley for the final out.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Head Coach Missy Dickerson
Her overall impressions of the extra-inning game...
"Wow, what a day! I think it had been 36 innings that we had not scored a run in NCAA play. I knew that if we got that one run across, that we¹d be able to manufacture some runs. And they just kept coming in the first game. Unfortunately, we didn¹t score enough in the second game to get the job done. I am very proud of our team. I think yesterday we were really nervous and didn¹t play our best. Maybe it was that emotional speech I gave this morning that pushed them over the top and had them come out and lay it all on the line."

On what Sarah Pauley has meant to the program...
"I don¹t think that there are words to describe what¹s she meant to this program. That kid has been a tremendous athlete for us. I hope that she gets to move on and fulfill the dreams that she has."

Senior pitcher Sarah Pauley
"My second of the day is usually better than my first game. I didn¹t really feel anything (bad) except for the heat. What I will take away from the day isn¹t this loss. It would be the victory (against Massachusetts) in game one, just because it was our first win ever in regionals. It¹s going to be very memorable. We got the chance to prove ourselves to a lot of people. Right now, however, it is really tough."

Mississippi State Head Coach Jay Miller
Overall impressions of the game...
"I thought the kids played with lots of heart and fire. Defensively, we made some outstanding plays to save ourselves. Michelle Kinney in centerfield, Jennifer Jessup in left field, Callye Williams at second base and Blair Geddings behind the plate did a great job defensively and made some fantastic plays and fantastic catches. We saw an outstanding pitcher in Sarah Pauley and I think you saw a future Sarah Pauley when Ragan Blake came in. Just a freshman, she¹s going to be just as dominant when she is a senior. Tanelda (McDonald) battled all day and got the big hit for us to drive in the winning run. It was just a great all-around effort by the ballclub."

Why he pulled starter Stephanie Comeaux in the fourth inning...
"She has been fighting tendonitis in her forearm. The trainer has been working on her every inning. We made the decision that if they got somebody on, we¹d get Stephanie out of there and get Ragan (Blake) into the game. Ragan¹s been throwing well for us the last month, so we didn¹t hesitate to put her in and rest Stephanie."

Senior third baseman Tanelda McDonald
"The main thing that I was focusing on was getting on top of the ball and hitting it on the ground, because she (Pauley) has a great rise ball and it¹s very difficult to lay off of it."

-- Courtesy University of Texas