News from MSU Media Relations--Apr. 7

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

Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State looks to continue its success at the MSU Softball Field as No. 22 Auburn comes to campus for a three-game SEC Western Division series as part of Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Region's Bank.

The two teams open the series Friday at 5 p.m. Saturday's game is set for an 11:30 a.m. first pitch, and Sunday's finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m start. Admission to all home softball games is free.

It will be a busy weekend at the MSU Softball Field. Mississippi State will honor its alumni prior to Saturday's game, and fans are encouraged to wear pink on Sunday as the Bulldogs help to Strikeout Cancer.

Mississippi State enters the series 19-19 overall and 7-6 in SEC play. The Bulldogs, who are 15-2 at home this season following a series win against Ole Miss, will be trying to bounce back from a tough 14-4 setback to Southern Mississippi Wednesday night during the M&F Bank Fastpitch Classic in Madison.

Auburn split a doubleheader with Mercer Wednesday night to run its record to 30-8. The Tigers are 9-5 in league play after falling twice to Tennessee last weekend.

Head coach Jay Miller, who enters the weekend with 999 career victories, has his team playing at home on Super Bulldog Weekend for the fourth time in five seasons. Mississippi State is 19-8 all-time during the school's annual spring homecoming weekend.

This weekend's series will be the second time this year the Dawgs have faced the 22nd-ranked team in the country. State defeated then-No. 22 Texas A&M 7-3 en route to winning the Bulldog Classic on March 6.

The Maroon and White hold a 26-19 series lead against AU. State has won three of the last four meetings, including a doubleheader sweep last season in Auburn.

Senior Ali Bainbridge paced Mississippi State Wednesday night with her fourth home run of the season as part of a 2-for-2, two-RBI outing. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native boasts the team's top batting average at .392. She has also scored a team-high 38 times while notching 11 doubles, three triples and 13 RBI.

Fellow senior Courtney Nesbit has continued a stellar 2011 campaign, going 5-for-7 with a home run and seven RBI over the past two games. The Acworth, Ga., native, a .333 hitter, leads the Dawgs with eight home runs and 35 RBI.

Sophomore Kylie Vry tops the Bulldogs with seven victories, a 3.78 ERA and 81 strikeouts. The Des Moines, Iowa, native ranks second in the SEC with two saves, one back of the top mark held by junior Misty Flesher. Flesher has won six games and struck out 55.

Auburn brings the SEC's second-lowest ERA (1.73) into the weekend tilt. Angel Bunner's 1.24 tally leads the way. She has won 10 games and struck out 81.

Lauren Schmalz boasts a 12-3 record and a 1.87 ERA. She leads AU with 110 strikeouts.

Offensively, Morgan Estell has been Auburn's leading hitter with a .398 average. She also tops the Tigers with 27 RBI, and her five home runs are tied for tops on the team with Amber Harrison and Kelsey Cartwright.


Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State faces the stiffest challenges of the 2011 campaign this weekend at Dudy Noble Field when the Bulldogs (20-9, 4-5 SEC) host defending SEC champion and fourth-ranked Florida (24-6, 7-2 SEC) in a three-game series.

The series opens Friday at 6:30 p.m. CDT with 12 p.m. starts set for both Saturday and Sunday. The radio broadcast of all three games will be carried on the 18-station MSU Baseball Radio Network, with veteran State sportscaster Jim Ellis describing the action.

The MSU-UF baseball series is part of MSU's annual spring homecoming festivities, Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions Bank. With warm and sunny weather in the forecast, season-largest crowds are anticipated for the weekend. An overflow gathering is expected for Saturday's regionally-televised (Comcast Sports Southeast) mid-day MSU-UF contest held in advance of the 5 p.m. kickoff for the Maroon-White spring football game at nearby Davis Wade Stadium.

The Dudy Noble Field ticket office opens two hours prior to scheduled game time each day. Tickets are $10 for general admission and, if available, $15 for chairback seating in the grandstand.

Mississippi State, after notching its 15th error-free game in a 5-4 Tuesday night win over No. 14 Southern Miss in Pearl, Miss., enters the weekend series sporting the league's top fielding percentage (.977). The win was the Bulldogs' fifth in seven meetings with a ranked opponent this season. Florida, despite dropping a 4-3 midweek decision at home to Central Florida, features the SEC's top team batting average (.311) and staff earned run average (2.33). Florida also sports the nation's top RPI (ratings percentage index) and becomes the fourth ranked opponent faced by Mississippi State this season.

Junior right-hander Devin Jones (2-4, 3.82) will open on the hill Friday night for the Diamond Dogs. UF shuffled its weekend rotation slightly, moving sophomore righty Hudson Randall (5-0, 0.54) up to a Friday start.

Mississippi State's 2010 Super Bulldog Weekend Saturday matchup with Tennessee drew 11,089 fans to Dudy Noble Field, the SEC's top actual attendance of the season and the 24th attendance of 10,000 or better at the home of MSU baseball. In 1989 Mississippi State broke its own NCAA on-campus baseball attendance mark with 14,991 packed Dudy Noble Field for a Saturday twinbill against Florida.

This weekend's series marks Florida's first visit to Dudy Noble Field since the Bulldogs claimed two of three games in a 2006 series in Starkville.

Saturday's 12 p.m. game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast, marking the first of 12 television appearances for the Diamond Dogs in 2011.

The Bulldogs trek to Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday (6 p.m.) to complete a rain-suspended March 9 game with UAB. Play will resume at Young Memorial Stadium with the Blazers holding a 4-3 lead and MSU batting in the top of the sixth inning.

State returns to action at Dudy Noble Field April 22-24, hosting defending NCAA champion South Carolina in a three-game Easter weekend series.


Football
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's 2011 Maroon-White Spring Football Game, slated for this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium, will be aired live on selected stations in the Bulldog Sports Network.

Veteran MSU broadcaster Jim Ellis will handle the play-by-play call of the game and will be joined by new color analyst Matt Wyatt in the booth. Pregame commentary is set to begin at 4:45 p.m. CT.

The game can be heard on the following radio affiliates:

City-Network-Station

Corinth-WKCU-AM 1350
French Camp-WFCA-FM 107.9
Greenwood/Indianola-WTCD-FM 96.9
Hattiesburg-WMXI-FM 98.1
McComb-WAKK-FM 104.9
Memphis, TN-KQPN-AM 730
Meridian-WMOX-AM 1010
Monticello-WRQO-FM 102.1
Tupelo-WXWX-FM 96.3
West Point-WKBB-FM 100.9
Winona-WONA-FM 95.1

The broadcast will also be available free of charge on Maroon to the Max by visiting www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive at game time and clicking on the associated audio icon.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's 25th-ranked men's tennis team (10-7, 5-3 SEC) heads east to Auburn to take on the 21st ranked Tigers (12-7, 4-4 SEC) on Friday in a top 25 showdown.

Coming off a big 6-1 upset over 4th-ranked Tennessee this past Friday, the Bulldogs broke into the top 25 in the country after defeating four ranked singles players in the Volunteer lineup. MSU also took the doubles point, defeating a strong Tennessee lineup that had only lost doubles twice in 18 matches coming in to the contest.

Mississippi State boasts a trio of juniors ranked in the top 100 of the country. Junior George Coupland is slated at #76 followed by Louis Cant at #77. Also, junior Artem Ilyushin ranks 94th in the country.

Auburn holds a pair of players ranked in the top 125 this year including 15th-ranked Tim Puetz and #118 Alexander Stamchev.

MSU has not lost to Auburn since the hiring of head coach Per Nilsson in 2008 and are dead even at 20-20 in the overall series with the Tigers. State won a 5-2 decision last season in Starkville.

Match time is slated for 5 p.m. CT at the Yarborough Tennis Center on the Auburn campus.

Following Friday's match, the Bulldogs head to Tuscaloosa where they will take on the 42nd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide at 1 p.m. CT.

Live stats for both contests will be available on www.mstateathletics.com.


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-12, 0-8 SEC) is set to kick off Super Bulldog Weekend as they play host to the Auburn Tigers (4-15, 0-8 SEC) on Friday.

Coming off a big singles victory against Georgia last weekend, junior Mariia Ryzhova seeks to continue that streak this weekend against the talented Tigers. Juniors Olesya Tsigvintseva and Jordan Zachary will also be competing this weekend as they boast their skills in doubles and singles action.

Freshman Alexandra Perper has proven her worth for MSU as she has now compiled five victories in the top spot for the Lady Bulldogs, with her first win over a ranked opponent against Whitney Wolf of LSU. Also, freshmen Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia hope to pick up a couple of solid SEC wins this weekend as they compete on courts 5 and 6.

Being honored on Sunday, April 10 against Alabama will be senior Elizabeth Hall. Hall is the lone senior on the squad this year and will be given tribute on Senior Day this Sunday.

MSU seeks to continue their success against Auburn as they have picked up four victories over the Tigers since 2000.

Auburn's match time is slated for 3 p.m. CT and will be played at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre where admission to all MSU home matches is free. Following Friday's match, the Lady Bulldogs will host Alabama on Sunday, April 10 at 1 p.m. CT for Senior Day.

In case of inclement weather, matches will be moved indoors to the McCarthy Gymnasium.

Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.


Track & Field
AUSTIN, Texas - Day one of action wrapped at the Texas Relays on Thursday and three athletes took the field for Mississippi State, Emanuel Mayers breaking through the pack to earn a place in the finals of the 400 meter hurdles.

Competing against 54 athletes, the senior All-American posted a time of 51.35 to finish fifth place and garner a spot in Saturday's finals.

"The Texas Relays are a big event," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "There are five athletes here that made the Outdoor National Finals, so the competition is tough. So anytime you can make the finals at an event like this it's special."

Talisha Lee and Brittany Covington laced up for the Lady Bulldogs. The pair competed in the 400m hurdles, and in the end senior Lee finished 14th (1:00.36), while sophomore Covington finished right behind her in 15th (1:00.40) a personal best for her.

Thursday was a short day for the Bulldogs, but beginning Friday things will be in full swing. The Maroon and White will see their first action in the field events, while building upon Mayers' success on the track.


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