STARKVILLE — Mississippi State softball player Heidi Shape enjoys playing against the University of Georgia.
Shape is a Georgia native and was a standout at Norcross High School in Duluth, Ga.
The second baseman had another couple of nice defensive plays and a hit Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to help MSU avoid a 2-0 loss to No. 7 Georgia in a Southeastern Conference game at the MSU Softball Field.
“It is always fun to see a kid have success against that home-state school,” MSU first-year coach Vann Stuedeman said. “Heidi is a worker. She is the one with dirt on her uniform and one of the first ones to practice. She sleeps in our hitting building. She loves softball.
“I tell her all the time to get in that box and trust her hands. Coach (Alan) Reach and coach (Beth) Mullins have done a great job convincing her she is the hitter she is.”
Shape had two hits, including the go-ahead single in a 5-3 victory against Georgia on Friday night in the series opener. It was a historic victory, as Georgia became the highest-ranked team to lose at the MSU Softball Field. The victory also was the Bulldogs’ first win against a top-10 team since 2008.
“I was trying to get the runner in (any way I could),” Shape said. “My teammates were all in and that really helped. The hit was big. It made me happy, beating my home state.”
The win helped MSU (15-8, 1-3 SEC) bounce back from two SEC losses to the No. 3 University of Florida on Wednesday. The offensive momentum didn’t extend to Saturday, as the Bulldogs scattered seven hits and stranded seven runners.
“We have to learn how to capitalize on our opportunities,” Stuedeman said. “We had our opportunities and could not score runs. Stephanie (Becker) really fought in the circle and gave us a chance. Our effort was really good, and I am proud at how we have competed this weekend.
“However, the margin of opportunity against a really team is going to be limited. You have to find a way to take advantage of those chances.”
After throwing her sixth complete game Friday night, Becker (8-3) allowed five hits and two runs (both earned) with two strikeouts and no walks.
Another bright spot for MSU was Kylie Vry in relief. In her first appearance in the circle since Feb. 26, Vry got the final out in the fifth and blanked Georgia in its last two at-bats.
Still, MSU couldn’t answer on offense. The only at-bat with multiple hits came in the fourth, when Brittany Bell and Shape each had hits but the Bulldogs stranded two.
Erin Arevalo (7-1) threw her third shutout and allowed seven hits. She walked one and struck out nine. After making four errors Friday, Georgia made none Saturday.
“Erin pitched a great game,” Stuedeman said. “She had good command and she did not allow us to put anything together. Sometimes, you tip your hat to the other pitcher and come out ready to play the next day. The thing with our team is they have come back and fought hard the next day, even after disappointing losses. We will come out ready to play.”
The series finale is at 1 p.m. today. MSU will attempt to take its first season series from Georgia since 2007.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.