STARKVILLE, Miss. - Sophomore Kylie Vry struck out a career-high 12 in a 7-3 upset of No. 22 Texas A&M, and Lindsey Dunlap and Misty Flesher combined for a three-hit shutout as Mississippi State defeated Mississippi Valley State 8-0 and clinched the Bulldog Classic championship Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Field.
Flesher earned the win, her second of the season, in the nightcap after picking up her second save in State's tournament-opening win against the Aggies.
Senior Ali Bainbridge sparked the Bulldog offense, hitting .600 (3-for-5) with a double, a triple, an RBI and five runs scored to collect tournament MVP honors.
"It felt really good. These were some needed wins. We felt really confident in practice and got some kinks worked out," Bainbridge said. "I felt more confident at the plate, and I thought we did a better job this weekend."
Flesher and Vry both nabbed all-tournament honors along with freshman Briana Bell and senior Chelsea Raines. Bell hit .750 with a double, a home run and two RBI in the two wins, while Raines was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI in helping Mississippi State improve to 8-10 on the season.
Vry tossed 6.2 innings in the opener, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits to run her record to 3-7 on the season. Flesher recorded the final out with the tying run at the plate to earn the save against the Aggies.
Vry's 12 strike outs were the most by a Bulldog since 2006 and tied for the fourth-most in single-game school history.
The Bulldogs came out swinging against the 22nd-ranked Aggies, recording three runs in the first off Texas A&M starter Mel Dumezich. Bainbridge opened the game with a single up the middle, one of two hits in the game for the Vestavia Hills, Ala., native.
She took second as she beat out the throw to second on a Heidi Shape ground ball. A Ka'ili Smith base hit, one of two in the game, loaded the bases, and Nesbit put the Dawgs on the scoreboard with a two-run bouncing single down the left-field line.
State went up 3-0 two batters later as Raines lined a single to right-center field.
The Aggies punched across a pair of runs in the fourth on an illegal pitch and a Dumezich single, but Mississippi State answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth.
With one away in the frame, Smith legged out an infield single while Shape, who reached on a fielder's choice, managed to take second.
A double steal moved the runners, and Shape scored as TAMU catcher Meagan May's throw got away from the third baseman. The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 5-0 as Sam Lenahan dropped a perfectly-placed squeeze bunt to score Smith.
State pushed across two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Bell put the Dawgs ahead 6-2 as she blasted her first career home run, a pinch-hit, solo shot to open the frame.
Bainbridge followed with a triple, and she scored immediately as Shape lined a single to right-center field.
Texas A&M tried to rally in the seventh, scoring a run and loading the bases to bring the tying run to the plate. Flesher, however, clinched the win as she got Kelsey Spittler to ground out to Shape at second.
Dumezich fell to 8-4 as she was touched for seven runs and 10 hits while striking out five.
"We really got some timely hitting. Ali did a good job getting on base and scoring some big runs," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "Kylie and Misty threw lights out to give us a good quality win against Texas A&M, and we came out and finished it off in the second game to win the tournament."
In the nightcap, Flesher allowed just three hits and struck out four over four innings to improve to 2-1. Lindsey Dunlap started and went an inning, surrendering three walks.
"I felt really good and strong out there. I just went out there and tried to do what my team needed me to do," Flesher said.
State's offense gave the pitchers all the runs they would need with a four-run first inning.
Bainbridge was once again the catalyst, drawing a walk to open the game. A Shape sacrifice bunt moved her to second, and after taking third on a passed ball, she put MSU up 1-0 as she scored on an illegal pitch.
Walks to Smith and Lenahan brought Raines to the dish, and she ripped a double to left-center that cleared the bases and gave MSU a 3-0 advantage.
After Raines took third on an illegal pitch, Bell scored her with a double, one of two hits in the game for the Brandon, Fla., native.
State struck with two more runs in the second to go up 6-0. Bainbridge and Smith walked, and Lenahan, after getting another chance at the dish following an illegal pitch, cleared the bases with a double to the gap in right-center.
The Bulldogs put the exclamation point on the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Brittany Gates walked to get the Bulldogs started. Bainbridge, seeing the right fielder shaded into right-center, punched a double down the line that easily scored Gates from first.
Bainbridge stole third and scored the Dawgs' final run on a Shape sacrifice fly.
Kimberly Spivey suffered the loss for MVSU to fall to 3-6. She gave up all eight runs (seven earned) on five hits while walking nine.
Mississippi State looks to take the weekend's momentum into the Southeastern Conference opener against South Carolina on Wednesday. The two teams meet in a twinbill beginning at 4 p.m. at the MSU Softball Field.
For fans unable to make it to the game, a free live audio stream will be available at www.msstateathletics.com/m2mlive.
LEXINGTON, Kent. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-6, 0-2 SEC) finished their SEC weekend road swing with a loss to Kentucky (3-8, 1-1 SEC).
"Our doubles really hurt us in today's match," coach Daryl Greenan said. "We were unable to pick up any momentum in singles as well. (Alexandra) Perper had a big win over their top singles player today. She is doing a really good job at the top of our line-up and I think her best tennis is still ahead of her."
In doubles action, the Cats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead where the Kentucky duo of Jessica Stiles and Misha Testerman overtook State's pair of Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia 8-1 on court 3.
Clinching the doubles point at the top spot for Kentucky was Megan Broderick and Khristina Blajkevitch as they ousted Lady Bulldogs Alexandra Perper and Danielle Terpko 8-2. At the second position, the MSU tandem Mariia Ryzhova and Olesya Tsigvintseva fell to Kentucky's Caitlyn McGraw and Marni Venter 8-1.
Turning to singles play, the Wildcats' McGraw took down Terpko on court 3, 6-3, 6-2. In the second position, Ryzhova dropped a two-set decision 6-1, 6-4 to Stiles.
Competing on court 4 for MSU was Tsigvintseva where she battled through two sets but eventually fell 6-1, 6-4 allowing Blajkevitch to clinch the match for UK.
However, MSU fought hard at the top spot where freshman Perper took down Broderick of Kentucky 6-4, 6-4. Perper has now improved to 4-3 in the No. 1 position for State.
Following the victory on court 1, Pietraroia dropped a 6-1, 6-1 decision in the fifth position to Kentucky's Venter. On court 6, Testerman ousted Dion 6-3, 6-2 which closed the match and gave the Wildcats a 6-1 victory over Mississippi State.
The Lady Bulldogs are back in action on Friday, March 11 against the Razorbacks of Arkansas. Match time is set for 2:30 p.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre where admission to all MSU home matches is free.
Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com
STARKVILLE, Miss. - On what turned out to be a very chilly Sunday afternoon, the Mississippi State men's tennis team wasn't able to perform back-to-back upset bids to open its conference schedule as the Maroon and White fell to No. 12 nationally ranked Kentucky, 6-1.
The setback puts MSU at 5-5 on the season and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference action, while Kentucky improved to 13-3 and 2-0 in league play. All five of MSU's losses have come from teams that were ranked in the top 25 when the match was played.
Earning the point for the Maroon and White was sophomore James Chaudry who improved to 6-0 in dual match action and has now won eight-straight matches. Chaudry took down the Wildcats Brad Cox in a three-set battle, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, at the No. 3 position.
Like they have done in the previous three matches, MSU slipped up in the doubles point, with losses at courts one and three. Bulldog duo Louis Cant and Malte Stropp dropped an 8-3 decision to Cox and Eric Qugiley of Kentucky at the No. 1 position, while MSU's Artem Ilyushin and Tanner Stump fell, 8-6, at the No. 3 spot to Alex Musialek and Anthony Rossi of UK. On court two, State's tandem of George Coupland and Zach White were all tied up, 8-8, with Alberto Gonzalez and Tom Jomby when play was suspended.
The Wildcats lead was extended at court one where George Coupland, who was fresh off his upset bid against No. 36 ranked Ryan Lipman of Vanderbilt this past Friday, was serving up against a top 5 nationally ranked opponent in Quigley of the Wildcats. Quigley defeated Coupland in straight-sets, 6-3, 6-2, to improve to 9-2 in dual match action.
Bulldog freshman Stropp had his four-match win streak snapped with a straight-set loss at court four. Stropp fell to the Wildcats' No. 86 ranked Gonzalez, 7-5, 6-1, which is only Stropp's second loss of the spring. With a 3-0 lead UK clinched the match at the No. 5 position where State's 73rd-ranked Cant fell to Rossi of Kentucky in identical sets, 6-3, 6-3.
With the match clinched in favor of the visiting Wildcats, State's Ilyushin and White dropped a pair of matches on courts two and six. The No. 92 ranked Ilyushin slipped up to 57th-ranked Musialek of the Wildcats in identical sets, 6-4, 6-4, and White dropped a very competitive match to UK's Jomby which ended in a third-set tiebreaker, 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(2).
"I really thought we would have come out and played better than we did today," Coach Per Nilsson said. "Give Kentucky credit though, they did a good job and deserved the win. We'll practice harder this week and make some improvements and play better next weekend."
MSU will look to rebound next weekend when it travels for the first time league play. The Bulldogs will first hit the courts next Friday at Arkansas followed by a Sunday match at LSU.