News from MSU Media Relations--Mar. 24

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Baseball, Softball, Men's Tennis, Track & Field, Women's Tennis and Volleyball.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State faces its second ranked opponent in as many weekends Friday when the Bulldogs (15-6, 1-2 SEC) open a three-game Southeastern Conference weekend series against No. 20 Auburn (14-7, 2-1 SEC) at Dudy Noble Field. First pitch for MSU's conference home opener is set for 6:30 p.m.

The series continues with games Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Stadium gates and ticket windows open two hours prior to scheduled game time. The radio broadcast of all three games will be carried on the 18-station MSU Baseball Radio while live audio and video streaming will also be available on the internet ( to Maroon to the Max subscribers.

Third-year Bulldog skipper John Cohen will send junior right-hander Devin Jones (2-3, 3.03) to the hill Friday while AU coach John Pawlowski will counter with junior lefty Cory Luckie (1-1, 4.50).

In their last outing, the Bulldogs erased a 6-1 Vanderbilt lead and went on to record a 9-8 series-ending win over the Commodores last weekend in Nashville. It was the most runs allowed this season by Vanderbilt, which entered the series first in the NCBWA poll. Senior third baseman Jarrod Parks cracked his second home run and recorded his second three-hit game of the campaign to pace the Diamond Dogs at the plate. Freshman Taylor Stark singled in a run to launch a five-run, eighth-inning rally. He later took the hill to register the last five outs of the game and earn his first career save. The first career hit by freshman infielder Tim Frazier, a two-run pinch hit single, tied the game, while rookie outfielder C.T. Bradford, who made his debut as a starting pitcher in the game, singled in the go-ahead run moments later. The Commodores pitched 10-0 and 4-0 shutouts at the Bulldogs in the first two games of the series.

Auburn dropped an 11-inning, 6-5 decision to visiting Arkansas in the Tigers' SEC opener before rebounding to clinch the series at Plainsman Park with 8-5 and 8-7 verdicts over the ninth-ranked Razorbacks. Junior shortstop Casey McElroy belted a pair of home runs and piled up six runs en route to SEC player of the Week honors. He has hit safely in 16 games, second-longest active hitting streak in the SEC.

MSU holds an 89-83-1 all-time series lead against Auburn in a rivalry that dates back to 1907. State's lead in the series has narrowed in recent years, with the Tigers having claimed seven of the last eight meetings and four of the last five series, including last year's sweep (9-6, 16-14, 11-8) at Auburn. The Bulldogs' last series win over the Tigers was a 2007 sweep in Starkville during MSU's run to its eighth College World Series appearance.

Senior Jarrod Parks (.412) leads the Bulldogs in hits (28), extra-base hits (10) and RBI (20), while senior infielder Nick Vickerson (.267) paces the SEC in both runs scored (29) and stolen bases (17).

State closes out its March schedule next Tuesday with a 6:30 p.m. game against first-time opponent Alabama A&M.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State claimed a big sweep of SEC foe Arkansas last weekend, and now the Bulldog softball team looks to carry that momentum into this weekend's road series at No. 23 Kentucky.

The opening game of the three-game set is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT on Friday. The final two games are slated for Noon first pitches on Saturday and Sunday.

A free audio stream for each game will be available at

State's first sweep of Arkansas since 2005 moved head coach Jay Miller's squad to 15-14 overall and 5-2 in league play.

The Wildcats suffered a 6-0 setback to Louisville on Wednesday to fall to 19-7 overall. Kentucky fell to 5-3 in conference play after dropping the final two games of last weekend's series against 24th-ranked LSU.

State holds a 24-13 record against Kentucky, but the Wildcats have won five of the last six meetings after MSU took 16 of the previous 17 contests. Mississippi State took last season's series finale 1-0 on a Ka'ili Smith walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Smith, a .389 career hitter against Kentucky, enters this weekend's set hitting .364 with a double, two home runs and 15 RBI. The junior from Kapolei, Hawaii, drove in all three of State's runs last Friday to become the 10th player in school history to reach 100-career RBI.

Her batting average this season is second only to senior Ali Bainbridge, who is batting .376 with a team-high 10 doubles. Bainbridge, who tops the Dawgs with 27 runs scored, tied last Sunday's game with her third home run of the season.

Senior Courtney Nesbit continued a career year at the plate against the Razorbacks, driving in both of State's runs in Saturday's series-clinching win. Batting at a .341 clip, the Acworth, Ga., native tops the Dawgs with seven home runs and 26 RBI. She has also tagged five doubles and three triples in her final season wearing the Maroon & White.

Sophomore Kylie Vry and junior Misty Flesher were stellar in the circle last weekend. Vry notched her fifth win of the season on Friday before collecting her second save of the season in Saturday's series-clincher.

The Des Moines, Iowa, native has compiled a 3.27 ERA and 69 strikeouts over 87.2 innings.

Flesher picked up wins on Saturday and Sunday to run her record to 6-3. The Lone Grove, Okla., native has also earned a pair of saves while striking out 48 over 61 innings.

The Bulldogs meet a UK squad that is paced offensively by .400 hitter Meagan Aull. Brittany Cervantes and Megan Yocke top Kentucky with eight and seven home runs, respectively. Cervantes has driven in a team-high 26 runs this year.

Chanda Bell tops the Cats in the circle with a 7-4 record and 114 strikeouts. Rachel Riley owns a team-low 1.74 ERA, and she has combined with Ellen Weaver for a 10-2 record.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Continuing its trend of winning dominantly the 31st-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team took care of business on Wednesday in its final non-conference match of the year by defeating 41st-ranked Nebraska, 7-0. The Bulldogs improved to 9-5 on the year and have now won four-straight matches and five out of their last six.

"It was a great win for our guys," Coach Per Nilsson said. "We've been improving with each match and the results are evidence of that. I liked the way the guys played today and they fed off the crowd and we need that again on Saturday against a tough Florida team."

State has now won 81 of its last 86 non-SEC home matches and it was the first time since 2001 that an MSU men's tennis squad has defeated four different opponents, 7-0.

For the fifth time this season State clinched the match-opening doubles point which is proven vital for the Bulldogs as the Maroon and White is now a perfect 5-0 when winning doubles. MSU not only won doubles but swept the doubles point on all three courts with the first victory coming on court two where State's James Chaudry and George Coupland easily took down Sebastian Florczyk and Andre Stenger, 8-2. It was Chaudry and Coupland's second dual match win as a tandem and snapped a two-match losing skid for the duo. Bulldogs Artem Ilyushin and Zach White clinched the doubles point for MSU and claimed their fourth-straight match with an 8-5 takedown over Calin Paar and Robert Schulze of Nebraska at the No. 3 position. Completing the sweep for the Maroon and White at the No. 1 spot was MSU's 69th-ranked tandem Louis Cant and Malte Stropp who upset Nebraska's 65th-ranked team of Christopher Aumueller and Benedikt Lindheim, 8-7(3).

Much like its previous four matches MSU came out strong in singles and claimed opening sets on all six courts. Extending State's lead to 2-0 was White by defeating Schulze of the Cornhuskers, 6-2, 6-0, and winning his fourth-straight match. Also winning his fourth-straight match was No. 92 nationally ranked Cant at the No. 5 slot. Cant defeated Eric Sock of Nebraska, 6-1, 6-0, to help MSU take a 3-0 lead.

For the second time this season and the fifth time in his career 84th-ranked Ilyushin clinched the match for the Maroon and White, this time from his play at the No. 1 position. Ilyushin handed Paar of Nebraska a, 6-2, 6-3, defeat and earned his 30th career dual match victory in the process.

Extending the Bulldog lead to 5-0 shortly after was No. 85 nationally ranked Coupland of MSU. Coupland won, 6-2, 6-3, over Lindheim of the Huskers. It was the third-straight dual match win for Coupland. Bulldog Chaudry improved to a stellar 9-1 in dual match play by taking down Nebraska's Tom Blackwell at the No. 3 spot, 6-1, 6-3. Completing the domination for the Maroon and White was Stropp, who came from behind after trailing early in the opening set to defeat fellow countryman Florczyk, 7-5, 6-2. Stropp has also now won four-straight matches.

The Bulldogs, who are 4-1 and currently lead the SEC western division, will quickly turn its focus to the No. 19 nationally ranked Florida Gators who come to town on Saturday. The Bulldogs and Gators will serve it up at 1 p.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre where admission is free to all home MSU matches and live stats will be available at

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After last year's performance in outdoor track and field, Mississippi State's men finds itself starting the year ranked No. 8 in the USTFCCA poll.

The Bulldogs are also ranked in seven individual events. And while the Lady Bulldogs are not rank as a team, they have two women individually ranked in the top 25.

"I respect the rankings and you would rather be ranked than not," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "It's a reflection on the kids and the effort they give. The rankings at the beginning are important, but the rankings at the end of the season are what matters most. That is what we are working hard towards, and our goal is to be on top in the end."

Sophomore Tavaris Tate is the highest ranked Bulldog, coming in first in the 400m dash, followed by junior O'Neal Wilder at 8th. Tate is also ranked in the 200m dash, where he is tied with teammate Kendall May at 24th. May, a senior, is also ranked 11th in the 100m dash, behind junior D'Angelo Cherry, who is No. 3. Senior Emanuel Mayers rounds out the individual Bulldog rankings with his sixth-place rank in the 400m hurdles.

Relay wise, the 4x100m team, which won the SEC Championship last year, is ranked sixth, while the 2011 NCAA runner up 4x400m squad is currently No. 3.

The Lady Bulldogs are led by sophomore Jody Ann Muir at No. 15 in the 400m dash. Muir is joined by fellow sophomore Keisha Wallace in the Top 25, as Wallace is ranked 22nd in the 100m hurdles.

MSU hopes to improve on its rankings this weekend at the SEC/Big Ten Challenge in Starkville. The meet starts at 9:00 am with field events, and admission is free.

MSU Men's Rankings

100m Dash
3rd - D'Angelo Cherry
11th - Kendall May

200m Dash
24th - Kendall May
24th - Tavaris Tate

400m Dash
1st - Tavaris Tate
8th - O'Neal Wilder
42nd - Emanuel Mayers

400m Hurdles
6th - Emanuel Mayers

4x100 Relays
6th - Christian, May, Tate

4x400 Relays
3rd - Wilder, Mayers, Tate

MSU Women's Rankings

100m Hurdles
22nd - Keisha Wallace

200m Dash
37th - Taneisha Baker

400m Dash
15th - Jody-Ann Muir

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-8, 0-4 SEC) is slated to play the 34th ranked Gamecocks of South Carolina (10-4, 2-2 SEC) this Friday.

"Our girls have enjoyed some time off and have had some good recovery time," coach Daryl Greenan said. "South Carolina is a strong team so I hope the break has been good for us and that we are ready to compete."

Coming off a big upset win against 52nd ranked Whitney Wolf of LSU, freshman Alexandra Perper has been battling tough on court 1 for the Lady Bulldogs. Since joining the team in January, Perper has compiled a 5-5 record with two wins in the Southeastern Conference.

Lady Bulldog junior Jordan Zachary is back in the line-up this weekend where she will be competing in doubles action for MSU. Also juniors Mariia Ryzhova and Olesya Tsgivintseva will be battling this weekend along with sophomore Danielle Terpko who is just three wins away from 20 victories with the Lady Bulldogs.

Freshmen Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia hope to pick up their first SEC wins as Lady Bulldogs when they take on the Gamecocks of South Carolina on Friday.

This will be the 23rd meeting between MSU and the Gamecocks as South Carolina holds a 21-1 advantage in the affair.

Match time is slated for 2 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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State University volleyball team travels to Houston, Texas, this weekend to open its spring volleyball schedule.

Coach Jenny Hazelwood's Bulldogs play four matches Saturday in the First Annual Texas Pride Collegiate Invitational hosted by the Texas Pride Volleyball Club at Slaters Sports Zone in Houston. MSU opens the day-long event against the University of Houston (8:30 a.m.) and then takes on the University of Texas (10:50 a.m.), Tulsa (2:20 p.m.) and Texas Christian University (3:30 p.m.). Sixteen collegiate volleyball teams are entered in the inaugural event.

The weekend tournament in Houston will be a homecoming of sorts for four members of the MSU volleyball team who hail from the Lone Star State --- junior outside hitter Chanelle Baker (Carrollton), sophomore setter Paris Perret (Frisco), senior outside hitter Caitlin Rance (Kingwood) and freshman outside hitter Sarah Temperilli (Houston). Rance paced the 2010 Bulldogs with a .215 attack percentage and ranked second on the club with 254 digs while Perret led State with 1024 assists and Baker, a 28-match starter, tallied 159 kills and 41 total blocks.

MSU's 2011 spring schedule also includes a tournament April 2 and an April 9 alumni match (11 a.m.) at the Newell-Grissom Building before wrapping up April 16 with tournament competition at Jackson State.

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