STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State has won the Bulldog Classic championship and swept an SEC-opening series against South Carolina in the past week, and the Bulldog softball team looks to continue the success this weekend as it heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to meet Florida State and North Carolina in the Easton SEC/ACC Challenge.
State opens play in the University of Alabama-hosted event against FSU Friday at 3 p.m. The Dawgs face the Tar Heels and Seminoles at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday before wrapping the weekend against UNC at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Head coach Jay Miller's squad enters the weekend 10-10 overall following the midweek sweep of the Gamecocks.
Mississippi State is 19-12 all-time against the ACC, including a 7-7 tally against the Seminoles and Tar Heels.
FSU holds a 6-5 series lead against MSU, but the Dawgs have won five of the last seven meetings. State leads North Carolina 2-1 as the two teams renew their series for the first time since 2007.
Senior Ali Bainbridge has sparked the Mississippi State offense. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native leads the team with a .367 batting average, and her eight doubles this year rank one shy of the top spot among the SEC leaders.
Since moving to the leadoff spot on Feb. 23, Bainbridge has hit .371 and scored 10 of her team-best 19 runs.
Junior Ka'ili Smith continued her hot hitting on Wednesday, driving in the winning run in the opening game of the twinbill. Smith touts a .338 average this season, and she has added a double and two home runs to go along with 11 RBI and 13 runs scored.
Senior Courtney Nesbit paces State with a personal-best five home runs. The Acworth, Ga., native's 17 RBI stands one shy of the team lead held by fellow infielder and Georgia native Heidi Shape.
Sophomore Kylie Vry and junior Misty Flesher continued their recent success on Wednesday, picking up their second-straight wins in the circle. Vry, a Des Moines, Iowa, native, backed up a 12-strikeout performance against Texas A&M last Sunday with three K's in a one-run, three-hit effort against USC.
Wednesday's victory improved Vry's record to 4-7 on the season. She leads State with a 2.49 ERA and 49 strikeouts over 64.2 innings.
Flesher improved her record to 3-1 as she picked up the victory in game two. The Lone Grove, Okla., native tallied her team-best second save last Sunday against the 22nd-ranked Aggies, and she now has 30 strikeouts and a 4.46 ERA over 42.1 innings of work.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mother Nature got the better of Mississippi State's two scheduled midweek games, but brilliant sunny skies are anticipated this weekend at Dudy Noble Field when the Diamond Dogs (10-3) play host to Sacred Heart University (4-4) in a three-game series. The series-opener is set for 5 p.m. (CST) with local radio coverage on French Camp's WFCA-FM (107.9). It's the fourth consecutive weekend of home competition for Mississippi State.
Rain zapped Mississippi State's scheduled Tuesday meeting with Mississippi Valley State and Dudy Noble Field, while Wednesday night in Birmingham, Ala., the Bulldogs' first scheduled road game of the campaign fell victim to in-game foul weather. The game was suspended in the sixth inning with UAB holding a 4-3 edge. It will be completed in Birmingham at a later date this season. The MSU-MVSU rainout has been rescheduled as part of a 4 p.m. day/night doubleheader May 10 at Dudy Noble Field.
Sacred Heart, located in Fairfield, Conn., and a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC), becomes the fourth of five first-time opponents faced by the 2011 Diamond Dogs. The Pioneers close out an eight-game swing to Louisiana and Mississippi with this weekend's series at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium. SHU split a four-game set at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond last weekend and dropped a 6-1 Wednesday night decision at LSU.
Junior right-hander Devin Jones (1-2, 1.86) of Eupora, Miss., is slated to make his fourth Friday start of the season. He'll work opposite Sacred Heart sophomore righty Troy Scribner (2-0, 4.50).
Both the Friday and Saturday games of the series have game times adjusted to accommodate fans following the exploits of the Basketball Bulldogs in this weekend's SEC Basketball Tournament in Atlanta, Ga. First pitch for Saturday's MSU-SHU baseball game is set for 6 p.m.
Senior catcher Cody Freeman (.421), eighth in the SEC in hitting heading into the weekend, leads the club with a six-game hitting streak. Shortstop Jonathan Ogden (.400) ended his team season-longest seven-game hitting streak last weekend. Freshman outfielder C.T. Bradford (.340), who last week became the 15th Bulldog to pitch this season, leads the Bulldogs at the plate with seven multi-hit games. Ogden, Bradford, along with seniors Jarrod Parks (.400) and Nick Vickerson (.261) have drawn starts in each of MSU's first 13 games. Parks, who leads the team in hits (18) and RBI (15), has hit safely in 11 of 13 games, while Vickerson ranks second in the SEC with 19 runs scored and nine stolen bases.
Sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton (3-0, 0.44), who with 27 strikeouts shares the early SEC lead, is set to pitch for State in Saturday's 6 p.m. contest while freshman Evan Mitchell (3-0, 2.45) is expected to open on the hill in Sunday's 1:30 p.m. series finale. MSU begins the weekend sporting a 2.54 staff earned run average, second-best in the SEC.
Next Tuesday the Bulldogs host Eastern Illinois in a 6:30 p.m. contest. State then ventures on to Nashville, Tenn., testing Lipscomb University Wednesday night and opening SEC competition with a three-game weekend series at No. 2 Vanderbilt.
ATLANTA - For two-straight years, Mississippi State has advanced to the finals of the SEC Tournament, winning the title in 2009.
Starting Friday, the Bulldogs look to make it three years running when they face Thursday's Vanderbilt-LSU winner. Tip at the Georgia Dome is slated for 9 p.m. CT, with the SEC Network carrying the game.
"This is always a special time of the year, a new season," 13th-year MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "We've had some success recently in this tournament, and we know what's at stake this year."
Mississippi State sports a 27-47 ledger in the SEC Tournament, but with Stansbury at the helm, MSU is 16-10 and has won six out of its last seven games. The 16 wins for Stansbury rank ninth all-time in SEC history.
The Bulldogs (17-13) earned an opening-round bye thanks to their current three-game winning streak, which features wins at Tennessee and Arkansas. MSU also comes to Atlanta riding the momentum of Ravern Johnson's hot hand.
In his last six outings, the senior guard from Lyon, Miss., has made 39 of his 71 shots (.549), while draining 26 of his 44 3-point attempts (.591).
He leads MSU in scoring with his 17.6 average, a total that is fifth in the SEC.
"I've just been working extra hard trying to get my shot back," he said.
The Bulldogs are 5-2 this season against the teams on their side of the bracket. They went 1-1 against LSU, while dropping their lone decision to Vanderbilt at Humphrey Coliseum back in late January, 81-74.
In SEC Tournament play, Mississippi State is 3-2 against the Tigers and winners of three straight. Against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs are 7-5 and have split the last four, with the most recent showdown coming last year in the semifinals in Nashville, a game MSU prevailed, 63-52.
If Mississippi State wins on Friday, it plays in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday against either Florida, Arkansas or Tennessee on ABC.
Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Two Mississippi State track and field athletes will compete this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, freshman James Harris in the high jump and junior D'Angelo Cherry in the 60m dash.
The championships begin Friday at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
"Ultimately, our goal is to put up points, win nationals, and make All-American," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "That is the goal every year and this year is no different."
Harris started his freshman season on top, as he earned two first-place finishes in his first outing as a Bulldog. Harris won the high jump at the Purple Tiger Invitational and then went on to aid the 4x400m relay team in their win. It was at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships that Harris made the jump that mattered most, jumping 7-4 ½ to qualify for the NCAA Championships and to secure his place atop the MSU All-Time high jump record list.
"For James to be a freshman and step right in and qualify for nationals is impressive. Not too many freshmen do that," Dudley said.
It was also at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships that Cherry posted his NCAA qualifying time. Cherry ran a 6.54 in the 60m dash to punch his ticket to nationals. Automatically qualifying for Cherry was something special, as the junior was plagued with injury last year, and his return to the track is something coaches have been impressed with all season.
"For Cherry, this is really his first year to get to compete for nationals. He has had some setbacks because of injuries and to see him back on the track and getting this opportunity makes me proud," Dudley stated.
Cherry will take to the track Friday night at 6:45 pm for the 60m dash preliminary; with the final set to start Saturday at 6:10 pm. Harris is scheduled to make his jump at 4:15 pm on Saturday.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - On Friday the Mississippi State men's tennis team will serve up to the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark. The Bulldogs (5-5, 1-1) are ranked No. 38 nationally while Arkansas (3-7, 0-2) enters the match ranked 62nd.
State owns a 21-7 all-time advantage over the Hogs and is 9-2 when playing at Arkansas. MSU has won two-straight against Arkansas and fourth-year head coach Per Nilsson boasts a 2-1 record against the western division foe. Last season MSU took down Arkansas in a 4-1 victory and won 4-3 at Arkansas in 2009.
MSU is coming off of a split weekend in which the Maroon and White opened Southeastern Conference play. This past Friday MSU upset then-ranked No. 22 Vanderbilt, 4-1, followed by a 6-1 setback to No. 12 Kentucky.
The Bulldogs boast two ranked singles players led by No. 73 nationally ranked Louis Cant followed by 92nd-ranked Artem Ilyushin. Cant is 5-3 in dual match action, 1-1 in conference play and is an impressive 8-3 this spring. Ilyushin is also 1-1 in league action while 5-4 in dual match play and owns a team-best 13 wins this season. Ilyushin is also a perfect 3-0 against Arkansas in his career. State's George Coupland is also a perfect 3-0 against Arkansas in his career. Bulldog sophomore James Chaudry is a perfect 6-0 in dual match action and has won a stellar eight-straight matches.
Arkansas' Matt Walters boasts an impressive 5-2 dual match record while Matt Hogan also has tallied five dual match victories this season. The Razorbacks' 66th-ranked Mike Ward and Nikolas Zogaj are a solid 7-2 in dual match play.
The Bulldogs and Razorbacks will serve up against each other a 1 p.m. CT on Friday and live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's women's tennis squad (2-6, 0-2 SEC) will play host to the 14th ranked Razorbacks of the University of Arkansas on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
"It is always nice to play at home," coach Daryl Greenan said. "Arkansas and LSU will be big challenges for us and I hope plenty of fans come out and support us."
Competing in the No. 1 position this spring for the Lady Bulldogs has been freshman Alexandra Perper. Last weekend against Kentucky, Perper picked up her first SEC win with MSU and has posted a 4-4 overall singles record.
Back in the line-up for Mississippi State is junior Jordan Zachary. After an injury earlier this season, Zachary has been placed back in the doubles slate to hopefully strike momentum in the squad.
Juniors Olesya Tsigvintseva and Mariia Ryzhova have both picked up solid wins on courts 2 and 4 and hope to add to those this weekend.
Also competing this weekend for the Lady Bulldogs are freshmen Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia. Pietraroia's efforts this spring have earned her three solid victories on court 6. Needing just three more victories to reach 20 as a Lady Bulldog, sophomore Danielle Terpko seeks to pick up two big wins on the weekend.
Last season, the Razorbacks took down MSU in a 7-0 defeat in Fayetteville. Overall, Arkansas holds an 8-11 advantage between the two schools.
Following Friday's match against Arkansas, the Lady Bulldogs will face LSU at home on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. Matches will be played 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. - For the sixth-straight year and the 25th time in school history the Mississippi State men's golf team will tee off in the Seminole Intercollegiate. MSU will tee off on Friday followed with consecutive 18-hole rounds the following two days at the par-71 Southwood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Bulldogs will tee up against 18 other schools including SEC-foe and 18th-ranked Arkansas, North Carolina, Charlotte, Cincinnati, top 50 school North Texas, Houston, James Madison, Troy, Georgia State, South Florida, Kennesaw State, Nicholls State, Mount St. Mary's, Jacksonville, host-school Florida State, Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M.
MSU has faced nine of the Seminole Intercollegiate opponents already this season and finished ahead of them six times already.
State is coming off a ninth place finish at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. Last season MSU finished sixth at the Seminole Intercollegiate and have recorded back-to-back top 10 finishes at the annual event.
The Maroon and White are led by true freshman Chad Ramey who is making his seventh tournament appearance of the season. Ramey leads MSU in overall scoring average (72.5) and second round stroke average (71.2). Ramey has been MSU's top finisher twice on the year and has tallied top 5 and top 10 finishes thus far.
Playing in his seventh-straight tournament of the year, Bulldog junior Lee Heaton boasts an overall scoring average of 73.1 strokes per 18 holes. Also active for State is sophomore Robi Calvesbert who is teeing off in his sixth tournament of the season. Calvesbert was MSU's leader in its last tournament by tying for ninth at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate.
Evan Hugall is making his second appearance for the Bulldogs this season and true freshman Axel Boasson is playing in fifth tournament of the year and his second-straight appearance.
The Bulldogs will play three consecutive rounds of 18 holes over the weekend and live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
BATON ROUGE, La. - Coming off their first tournament of the spring, the Mississippi State women's golf team prepares for the LSU Tiger Golf Classic at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La. MSU finished its last tournament led by its pair of seniors, Erika Thornton and Mallory Batson. The duo finished atop the team's individual results all three rounds of the tournament and both finished in the top 20.
The recently renovated University Club will host its first collegiate tournament on the new greens. Under its latest design, the course is a par 72. At the last Tiger Classic at the University Club in 2009, Virginia won the event with an 8-under-par 856 while Arkansas's Lucy Nunn won in a playoff.
Making the trip for Mississippi State will be seniors Mallory Batson and Erika Thornton, sophomore Maria Roos and freshmen Esther Huffman and Mary Langdon Gallagher.
Batson enters the tournament owning MState's second-best stroke average per round (75.63) and per tournament (226.00). She trails Thornton by less than a stroke in each of the categories. Thornton looks to maintain her streak of nine consecutive tournaments finishing atop MSU's leaderboard.
Roos is making her fifth tournament of the year and third straight. Roos has already shown marked improvement from last season knocking multiple strokes off her round and tournament averages.
Coming off an injury, Huffman hasn't played in a tournament since firing a 235 in the PAC 10/SEC Challenge last fall. Along with Gallagher, she has already made strong contributions to the Lady Bulldog squad as a freshman. Gallagher has yet to miss a tournament in her young college career. She owns a tie of MSU's best tournament score (219) and has the team's second-best tournament finish for the season (T11).
With 21 teams scheduled to participate in the event, the Lady Bulldogs will face one of its stiffest tournament fields this season. Four out of the top-5 teams in the nation are converging on Baton Rouge for the event. A total of seven teams ranked in GolfStat's Top-25 are participating in the event including top-ranked Alabama.
"With the leadership of our two seniors, I feel good about our team at LSU," Coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "It is by far our strongest tournament of the year. There are several top-20 teams in the field. It is about getting our underclassmen exposed to this type of event and I know it will pay off in the future."
The LSU Tiger Classic will tee off at 7:51 a.m. CT on both Friday and Saturday while an 8:30 a.m. CT shotgun start is set for Sunday. The first MSU player will tee off in the bayou at 10:15 a.m. on Friday. Live stats will be available through www.MStateAthletics.com.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Maroon Tee Club has scheduled the inaugural Maroon Tee Classic for May 2 at the Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.
The tournament will be a four-man scramble plus one MSU player, coach or administrator. The entry fee for the tournament is $500.00 per player with lunch included. The range at Old Waverly opens at 11:00 a.m. CT. Lunch begins at 11:45 a.m., and a shotgun start is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
The Maroon Tee Club was formed in the fall of 2010 to assist both the Mississippi State men's and women's golf programs.
The mission of the Maroon Tee Club is to support the men's and women's golf programs at Mississippi State University, to provide funds necessary for the development and enhancement of facilities and to compete at a championship level.
Coach Clay Homan and Coach Ginger Brown-Lemm hope to see you at the Maroon Tee Classic to share a round of golf wrapped in Maroon and White as well as their vision for the Bulldog and Lady Bulldog programs.
For more information on the Maroon Tee Classic, visit www.MStateAthletics.com or contact the MSU golf office at 662-325-2722.