STARKVILLE — Mississippi State University senior outfielder Ka’ili Smith really likes her team’s offensive abilities.
Smith simply wants to see more production from her and her teammates.
The Bulldogs pounded out 10 hits but timely hitting again eluded the squad in a 10-3 loss to No. 12 Tennessee at the MSU Softball Field.
“We have been hitting the ball better every game,” Smith said. “But we have to start putting those hits together. We are getting closer and closer to winning these games.”
MSU dropped the series opener, 8-0 Friday night. The Bulldogs had a more solid effort Saturday but still left the diamond with a fifth straight defeat in conference play.
“We are going to be relentless and continue to go out there and try to get quality at-bats, regardless of the situation,” MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman said. “The fact that we made them take out their starting pitcher (Ivy Renfroe) early is a credit it to our coaches and our players.”
Tennessee (22-7 overall, 6-4) erupted for six runs in the first inning. MSU starting pitcher Kyle Vry (5-5) worked out that frame and lasted until there were two outs in the sixth inning.
MSU (18-14, 3-9) battled back from the tough start to close within 6-3. Sam Lenahan had a two-run single in the first inning. Ivy Renfroe was lifted after a leadoff double by Erin Nesbit in the second inning.
Nesbit later scored on an RBI-double from Smith.
Ellen Renfroe (17-1) would scatter seven hits the rest of the way. The Lady Volunteers expanded the lead with a pair of scores in the fourth and sixth innings.
“We had 10 hits but only scored three runs,” Stuedeman said. “They had 13 hits and 10 runs. We need to work on the timeliness of our hits being when we have runners in scoring position.”
The Bulldogs stranded eight total base runners, including two each in three different at-bats.
“We have a lot of confidence at the plate,” Smith said. “We just have to take it up another level when we have our scoring chances. We should have scored more runs early in the game and that have made a different outcome.
“I thought we did a real good job of battling back from the early deficit. We need to build on the solid things from this game and help let that carry over to the next game.”
Tennessee finished with 13 hits. Lauren Gibson had three hits and four RBIs, while Madison Shipman also had three hits. Kat Dotson added two hits.
MSU finished with 10 hits. Jessica Cooley and Brittany Gates each had multiple hits for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will attempt to halt the slide in today’s 1 p.m. series finale.
“We need to be patient and work the zone,” Smith said. “We don’t need to change too much, because we are getting quality at-bats. We just need to execute a little better in scoring situations.”
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.