LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mississippi State was unable to figure out Kentucky starter Chanda Bell Saturday afternoon as the 23rd-ranked Wildcats defeated the Bulldog softball team 8-0 in five innings at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky.
The Bulldogs fell to 15-16 overall and 5-4 in SEC play with the loss. Kentucky improved 21-7 and 7-3 in league play in the series-clinching win.
Bell, who struck out 11 and held MSU hitless to improve to 8-4, faced one batter over the minimum as senior Courtney Nesbit reached on an error in the top of the fifth.
Sophomore Stephanie Becker faced one batter in the game, and she fell to 3-3 on the season as she allowed a walk and a run. Fellow sophomore Kylie Vry tossed one inning, giving up five runs and five hits before giving way to junior Lindsey Dunlap.
Dunlap hurled three innings, surrendering two unearned runs and two hits while striking out four.
"I thought Bell looked really good for them today. We didn't manage our at-bats well, and our pitchers didn't have a very good day," Mississippi State head coach Jay Miller said. "We have to figure out who can start and get us through that first inning. Our team has to dig deep, see what we're made of and try to bounce back tomorrow."
The Dawgs were never able to recover after Kentucky struck for six runs in the first inning. After Megan Yocke walked off Becker to open the game, she came around to score on a Vry wild pitch before Meagan Aull delivered an RBI single to put the Wildcats in front 2-0. UK added RBI doubles from Lauren Cumbess and Emily Jolly to cap the six-run frame.
Dunlap held the Wildcats off the scoreboard until the fourth, when Kentucky scratched across the final two runs of the contest.
Macy Allen opened the inning with a single, and after she stole second, Yocke drew a walk. Kara Dill followed with a base hit, and a throwing error by MSU senior Chelsea Raines allowed both runners to score.
Dill advanced to third, but Dunlap escaped any further damage as she got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
Dill and Allen led UK with two hits each.
The two teams conclude the series Sunday afternoon in a game set for a 12 p.m. CT first pitch. A free audio stream of the game will be available at www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive.
Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Action has wrapped at the SEC/Big Ten Challenge, and at the end of the day it was the Big Ten winning both the men's and women's competition. On the women's side, the Big Ten secured victory with 379 points to the SEC's 349, while the Big Ten men posted 399 points to the 337 obtained by the SEC.
Ohio State led the way for the Big Ten women with 123, followed by Indiana with 102.50. Purdue was next with 89, while Illinois rounded out the quartet with 64.50. For the SEC, it was Mississippi State leading the way with 142.50, also the highest team score on the day. Mississippi was second with 93, followed by Georgia and Auburn with 64.50 and 49, respectively.
For the Big Ten men, it was again Ohio State leading the way with 117 points, followed by Indiana (112), Purdue (92), and Illinois (78). Mississippi State again led the way for the SEC with 116 points, with Mississippi next at 109. Auburn closed their day of men's competition with a total of 66 points, followed by Georgia with 46.
State's Lady Bulldogs were led by senior Richesa McCaleb who won the 100m dash (11.80) and was runner-up in the 200m (23.56). Sophomore Haley Greenwell had an impressive day, winning the 3000m run in 9:56.38, as did freshman Rochelle Farquharson who placed second in both the triple jump (41-05 ¾) and long jump (19-06 ¼). Also posting second place finishes were sophomore Chloe Phillips in the 1500m run (4:33.74) and the 4x400m relay team of senior Taneisha Baker, sophomore Brittany Covington, sophomore Jody-Ann Muir, and McCaleb.
Senior Emanuel Mayers led the way for the Bulldogs with a first-place finish in the 400m hurdles (52.82) and fourth place in the 110m hurdles (14.31). Sophomore Tavaris Tate also had an impressive day as he placed second in the 400m dash (46.61) and third in the 200m dash (20.87). Freshman James Harris continued his dominance in the high jump placing second (7-03 ¾) behind the NCAA Indoor Champion Derek Drouin of Indiana. MSU junior Ed Wesela posted a second-place finish with his shot put throw of 55-05 ½. The 4x400m relay team of Harris, junior O'Neal Wilder, sophomore Daundre Barnaby, and Tate, closed the day for the Bulldogs as they brought the entire crowd to its feet and got the cowbells ringing with their winning time of 3:05.24.
"I'm extremely proud of the way our kids competed today," MSU head coach Steve Dudley stated. "Richesa had a huge day. She is getting better and better with every meet. The men's short hurdles went well, we won the long hurdles, so obviously we got some things done and I thought we competed really, really well. James (Harris) jumping 7-03 plus solidified him even further as a national competitor. We may not have won as a conference, but I think just pulling Mississippi State out and examining them, it was a good day and a good meet.
"The crowd was unbelievable today," Dudley continued. "People got excited and that really helps motivate these athletes. There were times where you couldn't even see the fence line. There was a person in every spot all the way around, plus people in the stands. That was huge. Our kids love that, and it pushes them to give it their all."
The Maroon and White will return to action on Friday, April 1st, as they host the Bulldog Twilight Invitational.
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-9, 0-5 SEC) heads to Gainesville to take on the top ranked Gators of Florida (16-1, 5-0 SEC) on Sunday, March 27.
Coming off a big win in doubles for the Lady Bulldogs is the tandem of Alexandra Perper and Olesya Tsigvintseva. During Friday's match against South Carolina's 34th ranked Dominika Kanakova and Dijana Stojic twosome, Perper and Tsigvintseva paired together for the first time and ousted the Gamecock duo.
Florida boasts six players ranked in the top 90 of the country and their only loss went to then top ranked Stanford University at the ITA National Indoor Finals on February 21.
Match time is slated for 12 p.m. CT at UF's Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex.
Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
Following Sunday's match in Gainesville, the Lady Bulldogs will continue their road swing as they travel to Tennessee on April 1 and Georgia on April 3. MSU will then return home for Super Bulldog Weekend on April 8 and 10 where they will play host to Auburn and Alabama.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - In an epic college tennis battle on Mississippi State's campus, 19th-ranked Florida (12-5, 5-1) edged No. 31 Mississippi State, 4-3 Saturday. The hard-fought match featured three separate three-set matches and two tiebreakers, all in the last three matches on court.
MSU had its four-match win streak snapped while the Gators were able to snap their two-match skid with the winning decision that took almost five hours to decide.
"We didn't do a good job in the doubles but we still gave us a chance to win with our play in singles," Coach Per Nilsson said. "We gave away too much though to beat a team like Florida. We'll have to regroup next week and prepare for next weekend's tough matches."
State was swept in doubles by Florida who has won the doubles point in 12 of its 17 matches this season. MSU slipped up first at court three where State tandem of Artem Ilyushin and Zach White dropped their first SEC match of the season in an 8-5 decision to Andrew Butz and Spencer Newman of the Gators. The Gators clinched the doubles point at the No. 1 spot where the 69th-ranked Bulldog tandem of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp couldn't complete the upset of Florida's 46th-ranked duo of Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Lacroix, 8-4. The sweep was completed at the No. 2 position when James Chaudry and George Coupland of MSU dropped an 8-6 match to Billy Federhofer and Nassim Slilam of Florida.
State bounced back early in singles, though, as MSU's No. 85 ranked Coupland won easily against the Gators Slilam at the No. 3 slot, 6-1, 6-0, tying the match at 1-1. Coupland claimed his fourth-straight victory and improved to 4-2 in SEC play.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the match when No. 92 ranked Bulldog Cant claimed his fifth-straight victory and defeated Florida's Butz in identical sets, 6-4, 6-4. Cant improved to 10-3 in dual matches and is 5-1 in league action.
Florida evened the score at 2-2 with a victory at the No. 2 spot. MSU's Chaudry dropped just the second dual match of his career while playing for the first time ever at the No. 2 spot, falling 6-3, 6-2, to 39th-ranked Bangoura of Florida.
MSU's Stropp responded soundly with a steady three-set victory to give the Maroon and White a 3-2 lead. After taking the opening set, 6-2, Stropp dropped the second set but rebounded with a 6-3 finish in the third to claim the win over the Gator's Federhofer 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. Stropp improved to 10-2 in dual match play, 4-1 in SEC action and has now won five-straight matches.
The score was evened once again with a three-set match falling in favor of the Gators on court 6. The MSU freshman White won the opening set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(6), but eventually fell, 6-3, 6-2, to Florida's Newman to give the Gators their third point. It snapped a four-match win streak for the MSU freshman and was only his second conference loss of the season.
That put all eyes on the top spot in the lineup, where MSU's 84th-ranked Ilyushin was battling one of the best players in the country in sixth-ranked Lacroix and forced the Gator senior into a third-set tiebreaker after a back-and-forth third set. Lacroix took an early 4-1 lead in the breaker, but Ilyushin rallied to within one at 6-5 before Lacroix hit a big serve down the middle to clinch the victory and the match.
The Bulldogs, who played in front of 422 supportive fans at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, will remain at home next weekend to host two more high-quality opponents in No. 2 Tennessee and No. 11 Georgia. The Bulldogs and Volunteers will square off on Friday, Apr. 1 at 2 p.m. followed by a Sunday match in the battle of Bulldogs at 1 p.m.