News from MSU Media Relations--Apr. 1

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Sophomore Shelby Fisher and freshman Heidi Shape collected two hits each as Mississippi State dropped a tough 6-0 decision to Ole Miss in the SEC series opener Friday evening at the MSU Softball Field.

Mississippi State fell to 17-18 overall and 5-6 in SEC play, while Ole Miss improved to 13-24 and 3-9 in the league.

Both of Shape's base hits came with two outs in the game, while Fisher's two-hit effort came on the heels of a two-hit, three-RBI performance against Alcorn State on Tuesday.

Mississippi State pounded out six hits in the game, but was unable to get the timely hit as 11 runners were left on base in the game.

"I thought we were kind of snake-bit in a lot of situations. We had some good shots, but they just didn't come at the right time," MSU head coach Jay Miller, who owns 997 career victories, said. "We left a lot of runners on base, and they did a good job of taking advantage when they got runners in scoring position. We hit the ball, but we just didn't get the hits at the right time."

After the Bulldogs got out of a jam in the first inning, they had an opportunity to put the first run on the scoreboard in the home half of the second.

Courtney Nesbit opened the inning with a walk, and pinch runner Jessica Offutt moved to second on a Sam Lenahan groundout. Two batters later, Shape lined a single to left, but Offutt was thrown out at the plate to keep the game scoreless.

The Rebels punched the decisive runs across in a three-run third. Londen Ladner hit a two-run single, and Brittany Barnhill scored the final run on a sacrifice fly off Bulldog starter Misty Flesher.

Flesher fell to 6-5 as she tossed three innings and surrendered four runs and six hits. Sophomore Kylie Vry went the final four frames and was touched for two runs (one earned) and five hits. Flesher and Vry struck out three batters each.

After Ole Miss added another run in the fourth, MSU left the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame. Lenahan walked with one out, and Shape singled up the middle two batters later. Freshman Briana Bell was hit by a pitch to pack the bases, but UM reliever Lindsey Perry avoided any damage as she got Jessica Cooley to ground out to short.

Perry improved to 10-3 as she tossed three innings and allowed three hits while striking out one. Kendall Bruning gave up two hits over the opening three innings, while Barnhill tossed the final frame.

The Rebels added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh for the final tally.

State will try to bounce back and even the series at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State continues its spring volleyball competition on campus this weekend, hosting Arkansas State and West Alabama Saturday in a three-team event Saturday at the Newell-Grissom Building.

The Bulldogs take on West Alabama at 11 a.m. and Arkansas State at 3 p.m. West Alabama and Arkansas State square off at 1 p.m. All of the matches are open to the public with no charge for admission.

"We are very encouraged by the progress this team has made since the fall," said head coach Jenny Hazelwood. "The players have been working very hard in the gym and we saw it pay off in our matches last weekend."

State won the first of four matches played in last weekend's Texas Pride Collegiate Invitational hosted in Houston, Texas, by the Texas Pride Volleyball Club. The Bulldogs opened the day-long event with a 2-1 win over Houston (22-25, 25-3, 15-12) before dropping closely-contested straight-sets decisions to Texas (20-25, 23-25), Tulsa (21-25, 26-28) and Texas Christian (17-25, 19-25).

"This tournament featured some of the top college programs in the country, and we didn't have an easy match all day," continued Hazelwood. "We competed at a very high level and that is something we will be able to build on for the future."

MSU welcomes back its former volleyball players Saturday, April 9 with its annual Volleyball Alumni Match. The Super Bulldog Weekend event is set for an 11 a.m. start at the Newell-Grissom Building.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - As the lights dimmed at the Maddox Track Complex, so did action at the Bulldog Twilight Invitational. Mississippi State took to the track to compete and in the end found themselves on top of the leaderboard in nearly every event it entered.

For the Lady Bulldogs it was junior Favian Cowards leading the way, as she finished first in every event she competed: hammer throw (163-04), discus (133-09), and the shot put (44-07 ½).

Sophomore Haley Greenwell placed first in the 5000m run with an impressive time of 16:40.45. In the long jump it was freshman Rochelle Farquharson taking first (19-09 ¾) followed by junior Sojourner Ewing in third (18-02 ¼). MSU took 3 of the top four places in the 800m run, with sophomore Skylar Wallen taking top prize (2:10.45) followed by sophomore Chloe Phillips (2:11.13) in second and junior Chelsea Rae Smyth in fourth (2:16.37). Also topping the leaderboard were seniors Talisha Lee in the 400m hurdles (1:00.73) and Jessica Merriweather in the high jump (5-08 ¾).

It was also a big day for the Lady Bulldog relay squads as all three teams won their events. The 4x100m team of Taneisha Baker, Richesa McCaleb, Jody-Ann Muir and Keisha Wallace won their event in 45.37, while the 4x200m quartet of Brittany Covington, Lee, Candice Polk and Ewing finished first in 1:35.66. The 4x400m team of Coleman, Smyth, Wallen, Phillips won their event in a time of 3:57.83.

For the Bulldogs, it was junior Ed Wesela leading the way as he finished first in both the discus (152-03) and the shot put (57-01). Sophomore Tavaris Tate came in first in the 200m dash (20.88), while freshman James Harris crossed the line first in the 400m dash (46.34) and Brian Brochman brought home top prize in the 800m dash (1:56.69). In the 1500m it was freshman Juan Sanchez winning in a time of 3:56.51.

A junior and a freshman won the jumps competitions for the Bulldogs, as Tevarus Christian won the long jump (23-09) and Jason Harper took the triple jump (49-02 ½). In the relays it was the 4x100m relay junior D'Angelo Cherry, Harris, junior Garren Hendricks and Tate finishing first with a time of 39.70, while the 4x200m quartet of Cherry, Wilder, Harris, and Tate finished second (1:23.17). MSU closed out the night with its win in the 4x400m relay of 3:27.94.

Mississippi State will have very little time to rest as they leave for Austin, Texas, to compete at the Texas Relays on Wednesday, April 6.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis program earned one of its biggest wins in a decade Friday afternoon as the 32nd-ranked Bulldogs notched an incredible 6-1 victory over fourth-ranked Tennessee at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus.

The win, which came on the heels of MSU's tough 4-3 loss to #19 Florida last weekend, improved the Bulldogs to 10-6 overall and 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference. The powerful Volunteer squad suffered just its third defeat of 2011 and first in SEC play, falling to 16-3, 6-1 in the league.

The victory was State's first over a top 4 opponent since 2002, when the Sylvain Guichard-led Bulldogs upset #4 Kentucky 4-3 in Lexington.

"I think now we know that we can hang with the best teams in the country," MSU head coach Per Nilsson said. "I think everybody has seen that we have been making improvements by getting good players back out here again and putting together solid teams. We just haven't won a big one until now.

"The guys did a great job…they were amazing today. Everything came together and everybody had a chance. It was very close though - Tennessee has a great team and they could have easily won a few that would have swung the match in their favor."

State came out firing in doubles Friday. MSU, which had won the doubles point only five times in 15 matches this season, went up against a strong Vols lineup that had claimed the point in 15 of their 18 contests coming in.

UT took the first match, with the nation's top-ranked team of Boris Conkic and John-Patrick Smith ousting 84th-ranked Bulldogs Louis Cant and Malte Stropp 8-3. State evened things when George Coupland and Artem Ilyuhsin paired to upset 61st-ranked Vols Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams by the same score at #2. All eyes then turned to court 3, where Bulldogs James Chaudry and Zach White fought hard to earn a 9-8(2) tiebreak win over Vols Matteo Fago and Jarryd Chaplin.

The Bulldogs rode the momentum from doubles into singles and took control of the match early by claiming the first set in four of the six singles matches, all in some very close contests.

Tennessee would even the match at 1-1 when Sandgren, ranked 48th nationally, bested MSU's Chaudry at the No. 3 position 6-4, 6-2. But that would be the only point the Vols would record all afternoon, as State finished the matches in which it had gained a lead in straight sets.

Putting the Bulldogs up 2-1 was Cant, who gained his sixth-consecutive win. Ranked 77th nationally, the junior overcame a 4-1 deficit in the first set to come back and win 7-5, 6-0 over UT's 121st-ranked Conkic at the No. 5 spot. Not too long after that, MSU's94th-ranked Ilyushin played a very focused affair to upset UT's 12th-ranked Smith at the top spot in the lineup 6-4, 6-4. It was the highest-ranked win for the Bulldog junior during his career and gave State a 3-1 advantage.

The final three matches on court were all very tight, with MSU holding one-set leads in two of them, but UT was charging back in both.

Stropp, the State freshman from Dusseldorf, Germany, would get the clinching point for the Bulldogs. After winning the first set 6-4 at No. 4, he found himself down 3-1 in the second to UT's 56th-ranked Fago, but battled back to win five of the last six games for a 6-4, 6-4 victory that gave the Bulldogs the big win. It was Stropp's sixth-straight win and the highest-ranked triumph of his young career.

After the match had been clinched, MSU's 76th-ranked Coupland gained a win over fourth-ranked Vol Williams at the No. 2 spot when Williams defaulted with Coupland leading 7-6(6), 5-6. MSU would complete the day's action with another win from a rookie, as White rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Chaplin at No. 6.

"We had an incredible atmosphere today (from our fans) and it really helps firing the guys up," Nilsson said. "We need another big crowd Sunday when we host another talented top 10 team in Georgia."

The Bulldog tennis squad will meet the No. 9 Bulldogs from Athens Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at the Pitts Tennis Centre.

Women's Tennis
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-11, 0-7 SEC) dropped a tough decision to 16th ranked Tennessee (13-4, 6-0 SEC) on Friday afternoon.

"Tennessee was just too good today," coach Daryl Greenan said. "Vivian (Pietraroia) has played very well in doubles the last couple matches and she and Danielle Terpko had a good chance to win today. Olesya (Tsigvintseva) did a nice job in singles and seems to be competing with a little more confidence lately."

In doubles play, the Lady Vol duo of Jennifer Meredith and Kata Szekely ousted MSU's twosome Mariia Ryzhova and Jordan Zachary 8-1 in the No. 2 position. Tennessee's tandem of Brynn Boren and Natalie Pluskota took down State's duo of Alexandra Perper and Olesya Tsigvintseva 8-1 on court 1.

At the third spot however, the Lady Bulldog duo of Vivian Pietraroia and Danielle Terpko battled through a tough match. Unfortunately, Tennessee's pair of Maria Sorbello and Whitney Wofford outlasted State as they took the match 8-6.

Turning to singles action, Lady Bulldog freshman Roseline Dion retired after being down 4-1 to Wofford of Tennessee on court 6. In the fifth position, Lady Vol Millie Nichols took down Pietraroia in two sets 6-0, 6-0. At the No. 3 spot, Terpko dropped a two setter to Szekely as she clinched the match 6-0, 6-1.

In the top spot, 31st ranked Pluskota defeated Perper 6-2, 6-0. Competing in the second position for the Lady Bulldogs was Ryzhova where she fell 6-2, 6-0 to 37th ranked Boren of Tennessee.

Battling through a tough match on court 4 for MSU was Tsigvintseva where she dropped the first set 6-4. However, Tsigvintseva fought to 5-5 but eventually fell to Sorbello 7-5 in a tough two-setter.

Following today's match, the Lady Bulldogs are headed to Athens to take on 7th ranked Georgia. Match time is slated for 12 p.m. CT at the Dan MaGill Tennis Complex.

Live stats will be available at

Women's Golf
OXFORD, Miss. - Senior Mallory Batson's hole-in-one on the par-3, 136 yard 12th hole at the Ole Miss Golf Course fueled the Mississippi State women's golf team in round one of the Rebel Intercollegiate.

"The hole-in-one was huge today in such a competitive round," she said. "I was struggling out there, so the ace was definitely the boost of momentum I needed to finish my round on a strong note."

The Lady Bulldogs finished the day carding a 314 clip, just eight strokes out of the top-10. The team score is the squad's best opening-round score ever at the Ole Miss Golf Course and second-best opening-round score of the spring season.

Senior Erika Thornton paced the lady linksters in round one with a 5-over par 77 performance. She is currently tied for 39th and is just two strokes back of the top-25.

The rest of the Lady Bulldogs fell one stroke behind each other in the field. Junior Perry Katherine Furr fired a 78 while freshman Esther Huffman followed with a 79. Senior Mallory Batson chased Huffman with an 80, and Gallagher kept pace with an 81.

Tennessee currently leads the tournament with a 290 while Virginia Espejo from Southern Miss is tops individually.

The Lady Bulldogs begin round two at 8:00 a.m. CT Saturday. Live stats will be available through

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