News from MSU Media Relations--Sept. 19

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Soccer, Volleyball and Softball.

Soccer
TULSA, Okla. - Kat Walsh's 70th-minute goal lifted Mississippi State to a 1-0 win against Oral Roberts Sunday afternoon in Tulsa, Okla.

The game was a back-and-forth battle until Walsh broke the scoreless drought at the 69:21 mark. Senior Ashley Hood corralled the ball in the midfield and found Walsh on a run down the left side. The Birmingham, Ala., native worked past the defender and lined the ball into the right side of the net for her first goal of the season and school fourth-best 10th of her career.

The win improved the Bulldogs to 7-2 overall heading into Southeastern Conference play next weekend. Oral Roberts fell to 4-4 with the setback.

"It's great to get the win going into SEC play. I didn't think we played particularly well today, but I'm proud that we found a way to win despite having several players out of the lineup," Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald said. "Kat got a chance in the second half and made it count. It's great to see her back out there, and hopefully we can get some players back on the field for next weekend's SEC opener."

The Bulldog defense tightened after Walsh's golden goal to pitch the team's fourth shutout of the season. Freshman goalkeeper Abby Risner was stellar in net, stopping a season-high nine shots en route to collecting the first blank sheet of her career.

With the defense holding the Golden Eagles out of the scoring column, the Bulldogs almost netted a second goal with 13 minutes left. Hood received the ball on a breakaway opportunity, but ORU goalkeeper Amanda Wheeler made a diving stop, one of five in the match, just before the Huntsville, Ala., native could chip the ball into the net.

ORU claimed a seven-shot advantage in the match, but the Bulldogs put a higher percentage of opportunities between the pipes.

Hood led State with four of the Dawgs' 18 shots. Whitney Brannan and Lauren Parks collected three shots each to pace Oral Roberts.

The fast-paced second half came on the heels of a back-and-forth opening session that ended scoreless.

State almost had the game's first goal just three minutes into the match. Freshman Elisabeth Sullivan took a pass along the right side and dribbled toward the net. She dropped a pass to Hood, but her attempt was deflected away from the net just before crossing the line.

MSU had another scoring opportunity with 23 minutes left. Hood slipped a pass between defenders to sophomore Jasmine Simmons, but the Edmond, Okla., native's shot sailed just to the right of the far post.

State fired another attempt with a minute left in the opening period. The Dawgs found Madison McKee in the box, but her header carried just high of the cross bar.

The Bulldogs hope to build on the momentum of the victory as they make a trek through Alabama next weekend to open SEC play. Mississippi State opens the conference slate against Auburn at 7 p.m. Friday before venturing to Tuscaloosa for a showdown with Alabama at 1 p.m. on Sunday.


Volleyball
OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss jumped out to a two-set lead and held off a furious Mississippi State comeback Sunday at UM's Gillom Center, spoiling the Bulldogs' 2010 SEC season debut with a 3-1 win (25-18, 25-17, 23-25, 27-25).

The Rebels (8-3, 2-0 SEC) used a balanced offensive attack to dominate early play at take a 2-0 advantage at the break. State (8-4, 0-1 SEC) kept the match alive with a 25-23 win in the third set and rallied from an 18-8 deficit before bowing 27-25 in a closely-contested fourth stanza.

"We dug ourselves into a big hole early on and again in the fourth set," said Bulldog head coach Jenny Hazelwood. "But I am proud of the way our kids fought back. We came back from the break to take the third set and in that fourth set pulled even after trailing by 10. We're learning with each match, and hopefully we'll build on today's match."

The match wrapped up a run of eight consecutive matches away from home for the Bulldogs, who return to action at the Newell-Grissom Building this weekend. State hosts SEC West rival Arkansas Friday (7 p.m.) and defending SEC champion LSU Sunday (1:30 p.m.).

Junior outside hitter Caitlin Rance paced the Bulldogs with 16 kills and added 10 digs for her fifth double-double of the year. Senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome registered 11 kills on a .290 hitting afternoon and finished with seven total blocks.

Hazelwood also singled out the play of sophomore middle Mandy Mellencamp, who registered a season-best nine kills with a career-high six total blocks. Mellencamp recorded three kills and a pair of blocks in the fourth set. Making her fifth start of the season, Mellencamp has returned from an early season 2009 knee injury that curtailed her sophomore season.

Whitney Craven registered a match-high 17 kills to lead a foursome of Ole Miss players with double figure kills. The balanced offense also included 12 kills by Miranda Kitts and 10 each by Regina Thomas and Allegra Wells.

Senior libero Kayla Woodard finished with 12 digs to pace the Bulldogs defensively. She raised her career digs total to 1,110, climbing past State head coach Jenny Hazelwood into eighth place among MSU's all-time career digs leaders. Hazelwood tallied 1,107 digs in four seasons (1996-1999).

Another Bulldog senior, middle blocker Ashley Newsome, also climbed MSU's career charts. With four assisted blocks and six total blocks, Newsome has climbed past Brianne Smedley (1997-2000) into fourth place with 260 career assisted blocks and to fifth with 321 total stops.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State won a pair of fall softball exhibition games Sunday afternoon, sweeping a doubleheader from Southern Union State Community College. The Bulldogs won by scores of 13-2 and 9-1 at the MSU Softball Field.

M-State is now 4-0 at the midway mark of its three-weekend fall softball schedule. The Bulldogs will play a pair of games with Wallace State Community College, starting at 1 p.m. next Sunday. There is no admission charge for all MSU softball games.

Game 1: M-State 13, Southern Union 2
The Bulldogs scored in all six at-bats, while pounding out 14 hits in taking Sunday's opener.

MSU grabbed a 3-0 lead with three scores in the first inning. In that at-bat, MSU plated its first run on an illegal pitch and expanded the lead on a two-run single by Courtney Nesbit. The lead grew to 7-0 in the fourth inning when Heidi Shape ripped an RBI-double and Kaili Smith connected for a sacrifice fly.

Southern Union scored in the fifth inning but the momentum was short-lived as the hosts tallied five scores in their half of the fifth inning. Shelby Fisher ripped a two-run triple to highlight that frame.

Samantha Lenahan and Jessica Cooley each had three hits to pace the M-State offensive attack. Smith also had multiple hits. Nesbit finished with a game-high three RBIs, while Smith and Fisher each drive in two runs.

Southern Union finished with six hits, including a multi-hit game from center fielder Kristyn Richards.

Stephanie Becker pitched the final four innings to garner the victory. Becker allowed five hits and a pair of runs (both earned). Starting pitcher Lindsey Dunlap struck out seven in three innings of work.

Game 2: M-State 9, Southern Union 1
In the second contest, the Bulldogs rallied from an early 1-0 deficit with five runs in the second inning.

In that at-bat, Briana Bell had a two-run single. Shape and Ali Bainbridge also had run-producing hits, while another score came home on a passed ball.

The Bulldogs stretched the lead with singles scores in each of their next four at-bats. Chelsea Raines slapped a towering home run ball over the center field wall for the Bulldogs' tally in the fifth inning.

MSU finished with 12 hits. Brittany Bell had three hits, while Jessica Offutt also had multiple hits, with a single, double and pair of stolen bases. Briana Bell had two RBIs.

Misty Flesher worked the final four innings to earn the victory. Flesher allowed two hits and no runs, with four strikeouts. Kylie Vry started and also allowed two hits in three innings of work.

Mackenzie Lloyd finished with two of Southern Union's four hits in the second contest.


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