TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Briana Bell and Erin Nesbit scored on an errant throw in the 10th inning as the Mississippi State softball team rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat Florida State 9-8 Friday afternoon in the opening game of the Easton SEC/ACC Challenge in Tuscaloosa.
The deciding runs came after Florida State broke a 7-7 deadlock with a run in the top of the 10th. With Briana Bell at second via the international tiebreaker, Chelsea Raines capped a three-hit afternoon as she punched a base hit past a drawn-in Seminole infield that moved Bell to third.
Sophomore Jessica Cooley, a native of nearby Birmingham, then hit a slow dribbler in front of the plate. Bell got caught in a rundown, and while trying to retreat to third, the throw from FSU third baseman Briana Hamilton sailed into left field, allowing her to score the tying run followed immediately by Erin Nesbit with the winner.
"It was a crazy finish. I still don't know what happened on that last play, but we got two runs and I'll take it," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "We played a great game out there tonight. We made some early mistakes to let them get some extra runs, but Misty did a great job shutting them down. The way our team battled back in the seventh inning shows a lot of character, and that is a good sign for this ball club."
Mississippi State won its fifth-straight game to improve to 11-10 on the year. FSU fell to 12-10 with the setback.
Junior Misty Flesher turned in another spectacular relief effort, improving to 4-1 as she allowed three unearned runs while striking out a career-high 11 over eight innings.
Raines' three-hit day also included a double and her third home run of the season. Freshman Sam Lenahan belted her fourth home run of the year, and she added her seventh double as part of a three-hit, three-RBI afternoon.
Senior Ali Bainbridge went 2-for-4 at the plate, including her team- and SEC-best ninth double.
The Bulldogs' furious rally came after Florida State jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning on a Hamilton two-run home run, a base hit by Courtney Senas and a Robin Ahrberg double.
Bainbridge's one-out double in the third inning started the rally for Mississippi State. Two batters later, Ka'ili Smith brought her home as she hit a ground ball that the diving FSU second baseman was unable to corral.
Lenahan cut the FSU lead to 5-2 as she opened the bottom of the fourth inning with a towering shot, her fourth of the season, over the wall in center.
After FSU took advantage of a pair of miscues in the top of the sixth to extend the lead to 7-2, Chelsea Raines sparked the Dawgs' five-run seventh with a leadoff home run over the foul pole in left field.
Three batters later, Bainbridge kept the Bulldogs alive with a two-out base hit. Heidi Shape was then hit by a pitch, and Smith walked to load the bases.
A Courtney Nesbit two-run single made it a 7-5 game, and Lenahan tied the game as she cleared the bases with a double to right-center.
Raines again ignited the Dawgs in the eighth as she opened the inning with a double. Cooley sacrificed her to second, and a walk to pinch hitter Shelby Fisher and an intentional base on balls to Bainbridge loaded the bases with one out. Mississippi State was unable to plate the winning run, however, as FSU got a fly out to shallow left field and a ground out to end the inning.
Florida State went up 8-7 in the top of the 10th on an Amber Bryant single before the Bulldogs' clinched the win in the bottom of the frame.
Sophomore Kylie Vry went the first two innings and was touched for five runs and six hits. FSU starter Sarah Hamilton took the loss to fall to 5-7 on the year. She went six innings over two different stints and allowed four runs (two earned) and six hits while striking out six.
The Dawgs take the Rhoads Stadium field twice on Saturday. State opens the day against North Carolina at 11 a.m. before meeting the Seminoles again at 6:30 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - For the third-straight year the No. 38 ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team defeated the 62nd-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks with a 5-2 road victory. State improves to 6-5 this season and is now 2-1 in conference play.
The Bulldogs improved to 22-7 all-time against the Hogs and a solid 10-2 when playing at Arkansas. Coach Per Nilsson is now 3-1 in his career against the western division opponent.
For the second time this season Bulldog freshman Malte Stropp clinched the match for the Maroon and White. Stropp defeated Arkansas' Gregoire Lehmann in a three-set battle, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Stropp increased his team-leading victory count to 14 and is now 6-2 in dual match play. The victory was also the first conference win of Stropp's young career.
For the first time in five matches the Bulldogs claimed the doubles point and gained the early advantage in the match. Not only did MSU claim the doubles point but State swept the doubles point. On court two, MSU's duo of James Chaudry and George Coupland upset 66th-ranked Mike Ward and Nikolas Zogaj of the Razorbacks, 8-5. State's Louis Cant and Malte Stropp tallied their 10th victory of the season by claiming an 8-5 victory at the No. 1 position over Arkansas' Matt Hogan and Chris Nott. Completing the sweep for the Maroon and White on court three was State's Artem Ilyushin and Zach White who defeated Lehmann and Mike Nott of Arkansas, 8-6.
No. 73 nationally ranked Bulldog junior Louis Cant helped increase MSU's lead to 2-0 with a straight-set takedown over Arkansas' Ward, 6-2, 6-0. The victory was the 45th of Cant's career.
Bulldog sophomore James Chaudry remains perfect in dual match play with an impressive 7-0 dual match record after his 6-2, 6-0, handling of Zogaj of Arkansas at the No. 3 position and gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead before Stropp clinched the match for the Maroon and White.
Also in the win column today was State's freshman White, who battled and won in two tiebreakers to clinch a three-set victory at the No. 6 position against the Razorbacks' Walters. 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).
MSU dropped matches at the No. 1 and No. 2 position where 92nd-ranked Ilyushin of MSU fell in three sets and Coupland dropped a straight-set battle. Ilyushin slipped up 6-7(4), 6-2, 7-5, to C. Nott of Arkansas and Coupland fell 7-6(7), 6-2, to Hogan of the Razorbacks.
"It was a very tough match and the conditions were very difficult," Coach Per Nilsson said. "We're happy to get out of there with a win and our doubles was much better today."
State will serve up its next match on Sunday to No. 56 LSU at 1 p.m. CT.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-7, 0-3 SEC) dropped their SEC home opener to 14th ranked Arkansas (13-3, 2-1 SEC) 7-0 on Friday.
"Arkansas is a top 15 team in the country and can really play," coach Daryl Greenan said. "Our doubles play improved a little today but we just have to continue to get better and grow as a team. Mariia (Ryzhova) did a great job battling on court 2 and I hope to see the same thing on Sunday."
In doubles action, the Lady Bulldog pair of Alexandra Perper and Danielle Terpko fell on court 1 8-2 to 34th ranked Claudine Paulson and Anouk Tigu of Arkansas. Competing in the No. 2 position was the MSU duo of Olesya Tsigvintseva and Jordan Zachary where they dropped an 8-1 decision to Arkansas' Kate Lukomskaya and Stephanie Roy.
In the third spot for the Lady Bulldogs was the tandem of Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia. After battling to a 5-5 stand-still, the Razorback duo of Emily Carbone and Kelsey Sundaram pulled away and took the match 8-5.
Slating a 1-0 lead after doubles, the Hogs kept the momentum as Carbone took down Pietraroia 6-1, 6-0 in the fifth spot. On court 4, Tsigvintseva fell 6-0, 6-0 in a two-setter to Paulson. After battling through a tough 6-3 loss in the first set, Perper fell in two sets to Tigu on court 1, 6-3, 6-1.
Dion battled at the sixth position for the Lady Bulldogs but eventually dropped 6-3, 6-2 to Jade Frampton of Arkansas. At the No. 3 position, Terpko fell in two sets to Roy 6-2, 6-2.
On court 2, Ryzhova battled and took the first set 6-3. However, Lukomskaya fought back and took the second set 6-4, taking the match into a three-set super tiebreaker. Ryzhova battled to 9-6 but Lukomskaya proved too much as she took the match 3-6, 6-4, 1-0(6).
The Lady Bulldogs are back in action on Sunday, March 13 against the Louisiana State. Match time is set for 1 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
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Following the first round of the Seminole Intercollegiate the Mississippi State men's golf team is in third place among the 18-team field. On a day where the weather played a factor at the par-71 Southwood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla., MSU fired a first round score of 289 and is led by sophomore Robi Calvesbert.
The 289 notched by the Bulldogs on Friday is their best first round score of the spring and MSU is only two-strokes behind the runner-up and host-school Florida State. 18th-ranked Arkansas leads the entire field with a team score of 277.
"It was a pretty good day under some tough conditions," Coach Clay Homan said. "We played as consistent top to bottom as we have all year. I feel like we still left some shots out there and can improve on what we did today."
The Maroon and White was led by Calvesbert who is tied for eighth among the individual field after firing a 1-under-par 70 in the opening round, which is a new career best first-round score for the sophomore from Puerto Rico. Calvesbert was also State's leader in birdies made also with five.
Three different Bulldogs are tied for 17th in the individual standings. Senior Evan Hugall and freshmen Chad Ramey and Axel Boasson all fired first round scores of 73. Boasson is tied for the team lead in pars made with 12 and is tied with Lee Heaton who finished the opening day with a 76 to round out the Bulldog lineup.
State will tee off second round action tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. CT and live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
BATON ROUGE, La. - After one round at the LSU Tiger Classic at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La., the Mississippi State women's golf team sits in 17th place amidst a tightly packed, 21-team field.
Wake Forrest currently leads the field after firing a 294 clip in the first round. Natalie Sheary of Wake Forrest and Catherine O'Donnell of North Carolina both notched a 1-under par 72 on Friday to finish tied on top of the leaderboard.
For the lady linksters, senior Erika Thornton and sophomore Maria Roos set the pace for the Maroon and White. Both managed to shoot a 6-over par 78 and to finish tied for 48th. Thornton looks to keep her streak of nine consecutive tournaments of finishing atop MSU's leaderboard alive in the bayou.
Just two strokes behind Thornton and Roos, senior Mallory Batson and freshman Esther Huffman concluded the opening round tied for 64th. Freshman Mary Langdon Gallagher tallied 92 strokes on the day to round out the day for the Lady Bulldogs.
MSU thwacked a 316 in the first round only eleven strokes out of the top 10 and four strokes ahead of 26th-ranked South Carolina.
The Lady Bulldogs return to the links in Baton Rouge at 10:15 a.m. CT on Saturday for the second round. Live stats will be available through www.MStateAthletics.com.