News from MSU Media Relations--Mar. 8

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Softball, Baseball and Men's Basketball.

Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State looks to take the momentum of winning last weekend's Bulldog Classic championship into Southeastern Conference softball play as the Bulldogs host South Carolina Wednesday afternoon in a 4 p.m. doubleheader to open the league slate.

Admission to all games at the MSU Softball Field is free, and a free audio stream for all of State's league games will be available at www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive.

The Bulldogs defeated No. 22 Texas A&M and Mississippi Valley State to win the rain-soaked Bulldog Classic and improve to 8-10 on the year.

Senior Ali Bainbridge had a phenomenal weekend at the plate for State, hitting .600 against Texas A&M and MVSU to earn Bulldog Classic MVP honors. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native opens her final season of SEC action leading Mississippi State with a .352 batting average, six doubles and 17 runs scored.

Fellow senior Courtney Nesbit has also continued a stellar final campaign in the Maroon & White. The Acworth, Ga., native rates second on the squad with a .351 average, and she has belted a team-leading three triples and five home runs while falling one RBI shy of freshman Heidi Shape for the top spot on the team.

Sophomore Kylie Vry and junior Misty Flesher were dominant in the circle last weekend to earn spots on the Bulldog Classic all-tournament team. Vry struck out a career-high 12, the most by an MSU pitcher since 2006, against the Aggies in picking up her third win of the season.

The Des Moines, Iowa, native has tossed 56.2 innings this season, compiling a 2.72 earned-run average while striking out a team-high 45.

Flesher notched her second save of the season against Texas A&M before picking up the win in relief against Mississippi Valley State. The Lone Grove, Okla., native owns a 2-1 record this season and has struck out 26.

South Carolina comes to Starkville holding a slim 23-22 lead in the series. The Bulldogs have dominated the series recently, however, winning 14 of the last 17 meetings.

This year's Gamecocks squad, under the direction of first-year head coach Beverly Smith, comes to Starkville with a 13-5 overall record.

Lauren Lackey's .366 average leads a USC squad that is hitting .315 as a unit. Laura Mendes, a .340 batter, tops the Gamecocks with 15 RBI and is tied for the team lead with two home runs.

In the circle, Julie Sarratt has collected a 4-1 record and 1.89 ERA while registering 32 strikeouts. Audrey Broyles has tossed 29 innings, amassing a 1.93 ERA and 23 K's.


Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State-Mississippi Valley State baseball game scheduled today at Dudy Noble Field has been cancelled due to inclement weather. The game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 10 as part of a day/night doubleheader with Mississippi Valley State beginning at 4 p.m.

State is scheduled to travel to Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday for a 6:30 p.m. game against UAB, returning to Starkville for a three-game weekend series against Sacred Heart University. Game times adjusted due to the SEC Basketball Tournament are set for 5 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

All MSU baseball schedule changes will be posted on the MSU Athletics Department web site (www.MStateAthletics.com).

STARKVILLE, Miss. - After enduring their first rainout of the season Tuesday, the Bulldogs (10-3) head to Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday for their first road game of the campaign, a 6:30 p.m. clash with the UAB Blazers (8-3). The game opens the 40-game broadcast schedule of the 18-station MSU Baseball Radio Network.

Sophomore right-hander Kendall Graveman (1-0, 2.25), one of seven Bulldog players who hail from neighboring Alabama, will open on the hill for State. The Blazers, coached by former MSU assistant coach Brian Shoop, have tabbed senior ace righty Dillon Napoleon (2-0, 1.80) for starting mound duty.

The Diamond Dogs hold a 31-9 all-time series lead against the Blazers in a rivalry that got its start in Birmingham in 1982. State has claimed the last 16 meetings, including last year's come-from-behind 6-5 decision that ended with back-to-back solo home runs by then-seniors Luke Adkins and Connor Powers.

Senior catcher Cody Freeman (.421) paces the Bulldogs at the plate while senior third baseman Jarrod Parks (.400) leads the team with 18 hits and 15 RBI.

The Blazers are paced by outfielder Jamal Austin (.488) and third baseman Patrick Palmeiro (.340, 14 RBI), this week's Conference USA Player of the Week and the son of former Mississippi State and Major League great Rafael Palmeiro.

The Tuesday rainout against Mississippi Valley State has been rescheduled as a 4 p.m. day/night doubleheader Tuesday, May 10 when the Delta Devils make a return trip to Dudy Noble Field.

State opens a three-game weekend home series against first-time opponent Sacred Heart University (4-3) Friday at 5 p.m. The Bulldogs and the Pioneers also meet Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday in a 1:30 p.m. CDT series finale.


Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the second-consecutive season, Mississippi State junior point guard Dee Bost has been tabbed second-team All-SEC by the league coaches, while senior guard Riley Benock became just the second player in school history to be named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Bost, a native of Concord, N.C., is currently second on the team with his 15.3 scoring clip, while his 95 assists are tops in league play. He is just 75 assists shy of tying the school record of 514 held by Derrick Zimmerman. Earlier this year, Bost became the 33rd player in school history to record 1,000 points for a career.

"It's a great honor to be recognized," the 6-foot-2 Bost said. "There are a lot of great players in this league, and to mentioned with them is a blessing."

Benock, who has appeared in all 30 games while drawing 29 starts, has a cumulative 3.97 GPA and will graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology. In six of his first seven semesters at Mississippi State, he's achieved a 4.0. Two weeks ago, the Battletown, Ky., native was named third-team Capital One Academic All-American.

In May, he'll attend physical therapy school at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky.

"Obviously, I came to Mississippi State to play basketball, but my first priority was academics," he said. "From day one, I knew I had to prepare for life after basketball, and that starts in the classroom."

The only other MSU player to ever win the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award was Shane Power in 2004.

STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State has accepted an invitation to participate in the 2011 2K Sports Classic, which will be held Nov. 17-18 at historic Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Also participating will be St. John's, Arizona, and Texas A&M. Tickets go on sale Wednesday at 11 a.m. and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 866-448-7849 or through Ticketmaster.com.

The format for the 2011 2K Sports Classic, the nation's premier season-opening college basketball tournament, features 12 teams from across the nation competing in the 17th annual event with St. John's, Arizona, Texas A&M and Mississippi State hosting regional round games from Nov. 7-11. The four hosts will then advance to the championship rounds in New York.

Matchups for the Championship Rounds, as well as the entire bracket for the 2011 2K Sports Classic, will be announced at a later date.

The four schools playing in New York City, three of which are currently ranked in the national polls, have combined for 75 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Each of the four schools has been to the NCAA Tournament a minimum of 10 times.

Below is a look at the other three teams MSU could be facing.

St. John's: Quite possibly the surprise team in the nation in 2010-11...ranked 18th in the polls with a 20-10 record...has six Top 25 wins, including four Top 10 wins, under first-year head coach Steve Lavin...the 20 wins are the most since 2002-03...enters this week's Big East Tournament as the fifth seed...freshman forward Dwayne Polee, the 2010 California state Player of the Year, returns next season, as does sophomore guard Malik Stith...the Red Storm should earn their 28th NCAA berth in 2011 and their first since 2002...St. John's welcomes the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the country next year.

Arizona: The Wildcats, ranked 15th, won the Pac-10 regular season title this season...under second-year head coach Sean Miller, Arizona should earn an NCAA bid for the 26th time in the last 27 years...the 'Cats are 25-6 this season with only one senior on the roster...Arizona is paced by sophomore forward Derrick Williams and his 18.8 ppg scoring average and his 8.2 rebounding average...classmate Lamont Jones is second in scoring (9.6 ppg) and assists (77).

Texas A&M: The Aggies are 23-7 and on their way to their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance...the No. 21 squad is the third seed in this week's Big 12 Tournament...the frontcourt tandem of sophomore Khris Middleton and junior David Loubeau combines for 26 points and over 10 rebounds a game for head coach Mark Turgeon's team...the Aggies, who are expected to return 12 players from this year's roster, have now won 20 games or more each of the last seven seasons.

In the 2010 2K Sports Classic, Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs scored 24 points to lead the then No. 4 Panthers to a thrilling 68-66 win over then No. 22 Texas. Both teams used their 2K Sports Classic success to jump start tremendous seasons as Pitt is ranked No. 5 and Texas is No. 7 in the latest polls.

Four of the past eight National Champions have participated in the 2K Sports Classic, as well as four additional NCAA Final Four teams.


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