News from MSU Media Relations--Apr. 14

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

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Joe Dan Gold, a former All-SEC standout and head coach at Mississippi State, passed away on Wednesday following a lengthy illness.

Born on July 7, 1942, he is survived by his wife, Rosemary. The couple lived in West Liberty, Ky., at the time of his death.

"I would like to express my sincerest sympathies to the family of Joe Dan Gold," MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said. "He was a great Bulldog and a leader on one of the greatest teams in school history, the 1963 team that played in the NCAA Tournament, a moment in history that will never be forgotten. He achieved a lot on the court and in the classroom for Mississippi State before going on to become a great educator. He will be greatly missed."

A native of Benton, Ky., Gold played for the Bulldogs from 1961-63. As a 6-foot-5 forward, he finished his career averaging 12.3 points (947 career points) and 7.8 rebounds (600 career rebounds, currently 19th all time) for legendary coach Babe McCarthy. While wearing the Maroon & White, his teams went 65-13 overall and 36-6 in SEC play, while winning or sharing three SEC titles.

As a senior, he was voted captain and led the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Tournament appearance. He was tabbed third-team All-SEC and garnered Academic All-SEC honors.

Following graduation, Gold coached the freshman team for two seasons, leading the newcomers to a 39-9 ledger.

Then at the age of 23, he succeeded McCarthy and was the youngest head coach at a major college. In his five years at that helm, Gold posted a 51-74 record.

Following his stint at MSU, Gold enjoyed head coaching careers at Paducah Community College (1971-73) and Mercer (1973-74) before leaving the coaching profession for a career in high school administration in Kentucky, where he was a superintendent at Williamstown, Mason County and Morgan County.

In 1996, Gold was elected into the MSU Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2003 he was recognized as an SEC Legend.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State returns to the road this weekend, traveling to Tuscaloosa for a three-game Southeastern Conference softball series against No. 3/5 Alabama that gets underway Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday's second game of the SEC Western Division showdown is slated for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch, while Sunday's finale is set for 1:30 p.m. A free, live audio stream for each game will be available at www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive.

Coach Jay Miller's squad enters the weekend 21-21 overall following a 5-1 win at Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday. The Dawgs are also .500 in SEC play at 8-8 after coming up short in a pair of hard-fought games against then-No. 22 Auburn last weekend as part of Super Bulldog Weekend.

Alabama rallied to defeat Troy on Tuesday after being swept by LSU in Baton Rouge last weekend. The Crimson Tide are 38-5 overall and 12-4 in the SEC.

Senior Ali Bainbridge will be playing her final games in her home state this weekend. The native of nearby Vestavia Hills has enjoyed her finest season in the Maroon and White, hitting a team-best .381 with 11 doubles, four triples and four home runs. She has also scored 40 times while driving in 14 runs.

Against Auburn last Saturday, Bainbridge drove in a run to become the 11th player in school history to reach the 100-career RBI milestone. She was the second Bulldog to reach the milestone this season as junior Ka'ili Smith did it with a three-RBI outing against Arkansas on March 18.

Smith has enjoyed another stellar year at the plate, hitting .339 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs and 21 RBI. She also ranks second on the squad with 26 runs scored.

The Kapolei, Hawaii, native hopes to continue the success she has already enjoyed in Tuscaloosa this season. During the March 11-13 SEC/ACC Challenge, Smith went 5-for-10 at the plate in leading the Bulldogs to a 2-2 weekend that included two wins against Florida State.

Senior Courtney Nesbit also had a solid weekend during the SEC/ACC Challenge, hitting .429 with a pair of home runs and a team-best six RBI.

The Acworth, Ga., native has continued a banner year at the plate, going 4-for-8 with two doubles and two RBI in her last two games. Nesbit, a .325 hitter, leads Mississippi State with eight home runs and 37 RBI. Her eight round-trippers, the third-most by a Bulldog senior, are tied for eighth-most in single-season history.

Sophomores Kylie Vry and Stephanie Becker have seen the most starts in league play. Vry leads MSU with eight wins this season. She also owns a team-low 3.85 ERA while pacing the squad in strikeouts with a career-best 81.

Becker owns a 6-3 record and 4.38 ERA, but the Aurora, Ill., native has made her mark in league play with a 2.43 ERA and 28 strikeouts against SEC hitters.

Junior Misty Flesher recorded the final out in last Friday's 4-3 win, Miller's 1,000th-career victory, against Auburn to notch her team-leading fourth save of the year. The Lone Grove, Okla., native owns a 6-5 record and has struck out 58 over 77.1 innings this season.

State's hurlers face a Crimson Tide squad that enters the weekend hitting .321 as a unit. Kayla Braud tops Alabama with a .460 batting average, 10 doubles and 44 stolen bases.

Freshman Jackie Traina has been a threat at the plate and in the circle this season. A .366 hitter, she leads UA with 13 home runs while tying Whitney Larsen for the RBI lead with 42. In the circle, she owns a 15-3 record and 1.26 ERA.

Kelsi Dunne leads the Alabama pitching staff with an 18-2 record and 1.08 ERA. She has struck out a team-high 209 over 136.1 innings.


Football
Greensboro, Ga. (April 14, 2011) - Thirteen of the nation's top NCAA head coaches including Dan Mullen, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Frank Beamer and Jimbo Fisher are scheduled to team up with former collegiate and professional athletes to compete for $415,000 in scholarship money at the annual Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament May 1-3.

The nation's premier head coach and celebrity golf event will be held at the beautiful Reynolds Plantation resort on Lake Oconee outside Atlanta. Over the past four years, the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge has provided $1.9 million in scholarship and charity to its participating universities.

Over the three-day event, several tournament rounds will be played in addition to the featured, televised round of coaches and celebrities. The complete field of head coaches, professional golfers, former athletes and celebrities includes six Heisman Trophy winners, 13 members of the College Football Hall of Fame, 22 All-Americans, 12 Coach of the Year winners, eight NFL Hall of Famers, 13 Super Bowl Champions, and players whose accomplishments combine to total 162 NFL All-Pro or Pro Bowl selections.

"In keeping with our mission to be the leader in charitable and scholarship donations, the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge is honored to host all these coaches and players - getting them off the football field and onto the golf course to compete for scholarships for their universities," said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO.

The field of competitors for the featured round is scheduled to include three former winning teams including 2010 tournament champions Jimbo Fisher and Terrell Buckley, two-time winners Steve Spurrier and Sterling Sharpe from South Carolina who won the event in 2008 and 2009 and Frank Beamer and Dell Curry from Virginia Tech who won in 2007. The two past champions, Florida State and South Carolina, faced each other in last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl where FSU became the first school to win both the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the same year.

The 13 university teams will be vying for the $120,000 first-place prize with all teams receiving a portion of the $415,000 scholarship purse.

The field of competitors for the featured event is scheduled to include:

Team - Head Coach - Celebrity
Alabama - Nick Saban - Chris Mohr
Clemson - Dabo Swinney - Steve Fuller
Florida State - Jimbo Fisher - Terrell Buckley
Georgia Tech - Paul Johnson - Jon Barry
Maryland - Randy Edsall - Stan Gelbaugh
Miami - Al Golden - TBD
Mississippi State - Dan Mullen - Fred McCrary
N.C. State - Tom O'Brien - Torry Holt
Ole Miss - Houston Nutt - Wesley Walls
South Carolina - Steve Spurrier - Sterling Sharpe
Tennessee - Derek Dooley - TBD
Virginia Tech - Frank Beamer - Dell Curry
Wake Forest - Jim Grobe - Riley Skinner

The Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge main event features pairings that include a university head coach and a celebrity or former athlete from the same school competing in a scramble format against other university teams from around the country.

Past winners: 2010 Florida State (Fisher/Buckley/ -7), 2009 South Carolina (Spurrier/Sharpe / -12, playoff winners), 2008 South Carolina (Spurrier/Sharpe / -12), 2007 Virginia Tech (Beamer/Curry / -10).

In addition to the $415,000 scholarship purse, additional proceeds will be donated to selected charities including Chick-fil-A's WinShape Homes. The Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge is a significant contributor to the Chick-fil-A Bowl's overall charitable and scholarship donations. The Chick-fil-A Bowl leads all bowls in the country in charitable giving, including gifts of more than $7 million since 2002.

The tournament is being taped by ESPN for broadcast in the fall. The date of the broadcast will be announced this summer.

For more information on the event, visit www.Chick-fil-ABowlChallenge.com.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - When Mississippi State takes to the track this weekend, it will be in tribute to a former Bulldog. The Invitational will take place Friday and Saturday at the Carl Maddox Track Complex and is a memorial to former track standout Jace Lacoste.

Lacoste was a 1990 cum laude graduate of MSU, where he was a student senator, member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and a member of Blue Key Honor Society. On the track, he was an All-SEC decathlete and All-SEC Scholar Athlete. Lacoste lost his life in a 1995 car accident while on his way to MSU to watch younger brother Paul make his first start at middle linebacker for the Bulldogs.

"Jace was a decathlete here," MSU director of track & field Al Schmidt said. "He was special to us. He was a guy that emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually outperformed his talent level. He was always one of those special guys that stepped up when it was time and I was glad to get to coach him.

It was a great loss to all of us, obviously to his family, but to the Mississippi State family as well," Schmidt added. "So we decided to honor him by naming the meet after him."

The Bulldogs enter the meet ranked No. 6, thanks to impressive performances from athletes like D'Angelo Cherry, who placed third in the 100m dash, and Emanuel Mayers who finished fourth in the 400m hurdles, at last week's Texas Relays.

Action on Friday starts at 2:00 pm with the women's hammer throw and concludes with the men's and women's 5000m at 7:30 pm.

Action resumes Saturday morning with the women's pole vault at 10:00 a.m., while track events begin with the women's 4x100m relay at 1:00 pm. The Invitational concludes with the men's 4x400m relay at 4:30 pm.

Admission both days is free.


Men's Golf
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Behind one of the youngest teams in recent Mississippi State history, the men's golf team is set to tee off in then SEC Championship at the par-70, 6,675-yard Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.

The Bulldogs face a stiff field that includes five Top 25 teams: No. 2 Alabama, No. 8 LSU, No. 10 Auburn, No. 14 Georgia and No. 15 Arkansas.

The Maroon and White is led by sophomore Brad Mason with a 73.65 scoring average. Mason tied for 8th in last year's SEC Tournament with a 1-under-par 209.

True freshman Chad Ramey is making his ninth tournament appearance of the season sporting a team-best 72.92 scoring average, while junior Lee Heaton follows him with a 73.7.

Freshman Axel Boasson and sophomore Robi Calvesbert are also representing MSU. Boasson is making his seventh tournament appearance with 222.5 tournament average, while Calvesbert is making his eighth tournament appearance with a 74.8 scoring average.

The Bulldogs tee off in the Peach State at 9:00 a.m. CT Friday. Live stats will be available through www.mstateathletics.com.


Women's Golf
AUBURN, Ala. - With a combined 197 rounds over 70 tournaments, Lady Bulldog seniors Mallory Batson and Erika Thornton look to wrap their careers in Maroon and White with a stellar finish in the SEC Championship at the par-72, 6,364-yard University Club at Yarbrough Farms in Auburn.

A native of Gadsden, Ala., Batson is appearing in her career-high 10th tournament of the season. She owns a 77.61 career stroke average and six top-25 finishes, including a career-high 9th-place finish her sophomore year at the Johnie Imes Invitational. For the 2010-2011 campaign, she leads the Lady Bulldogs with 48 birdies, and her hole-in-one during the final regular season tournament highlights her senior season.

"I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to play collegiate golf here at State," she said. "The time has flown by, and I can't believe I am finishing up my senior year. I couldn't have asked for better coaches or teammates during my time here. They have made this experience one I will cherish for a lifetime."

Thornton hails from Knoxville, Tenn., where her superb high school career was only a sign of success to come. She is currently seventh all-time in career stroke average in Lady Bulldog history (76.89), and she also currently owns the 10th-best scoring clip for a season with a 75.92 average. She has played in 36 tournaments over her career, finishing atop the MSU leaderboard 17 times. During the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons, she maintained streak of nine consecutive tournaments in which she led the lady linksters in scoring. Thornton highlighted her senior campaign tying for first in the Memphis Women's Intercollegiate.

"Playing golf at Mississippi State has been one of the best experiences of my life," she said. "State has become more than just a school to me; it is who I am. I will forever bleed maroon and white. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend MSU and will miss it. I am so honored to have played under two great coaches, Christi Sanders and Ginger Brown-Lemm. They both have taught me a lot not only about golf, but about life as well."

Under the direction of first-year head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm, the Lady Bulldogs have made remarkable strides back toward the postseason. The team posted the program's second-best 54-hole score of 883 at the Price's Give ‘Em Five Invitational, and the Maroon and White have earned the sixth-best tournament average (309.24). The senior duo has been instrumental in the Lady Bulldogs improvement this season. Thornton and Batson are first and second, respectively, in scoring average.

Also making the tournament for the Lady Bulldogs are sophomore Maria Roos and freshmen Mary Langdon Gallagher and Esther Huffman.

Roos is making her career-high eighth tournament appearance of the season. She sports the team's fourth-best scoring clip at 79.50, and managed to finish tied for 22nd in highly competitive field at the LSU Tiger Classic.

The freshmen pair has wasted no time making their splash on the collegiate golf circuit. Gallagher's 4th-place finish at the John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate is the second-best finish by a lady linkster this season, while Huffman's 79.09 scoring clip is the team's third-best.

The women's SEC Championship returns to Auburn for the first time since 1999, when the Lady Bulldogs finished with a 7th-place, 949 card.

With seven teams in the Top 25, the tournament field will be one of the toughest MSU has faced this season. Third-ranked Alabama leads the SEC's rankings followed by No. 8 LSU, No. 11 Georgia, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 17 Auburn and No. 21 Vanderbilt. Other SEC school rankings include No. 26 Florida, No. 37 South Carolina, No. 41 Ole Miss and No. 54 Kentucky.

First-round action begins at 8:00 a.m. CT Friday. Live stats will be available through www.mstateathletics.com.


Baseball
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State (21-12/5-7 SEC) hits the midpoint of its 30-game 2011 conference baseball schedule this weekend when the Bulldogs take on SEC Western Division rival Arkansas (24-8/6-6 SEC) in a three-game series at UA's Baum Stadium. The series-opener is set Friday at 7:05 p.m. and will be televised regionally by SportSouth.

The series continues Saturday at 6:35 p.m. and concludes with a 1:05 p.m. contest Sunday. The radio broadcast of all three Mississippi State-Arkansas baseball games will be carried on the 18-station MSU Baseball Radio Network and available on the internet (www.MStateAthletics.com/m2mlive) to Maroon to the Max subscribers, with veteran State sportscaster Jim Ellis describing the action.

MSU has shuffled its pitching rotation for the weekend. Sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton (4-3, 4.22) moves into the lead role and is set to make his first career Friday night SEC start in the opener. Stratton, who leads the MSU staff with 49.0 innings pitched and 47 strikeouts, will be looking to rebound from a career-shortest 1.2-inning start last weekend against No. 4 Florida. State has tabbed junior lefty Nick Routt (0-1, 2.35 ERA) for a Saturday start but has not determined its Sunday starter.

Arkansas, ranked as high as 13th in this week's national polls, has likewise reworked its weekend pitching plans. Freshman Brandon Moore (2-1, 3.40 ERA) and sophomore lefty Randall Fant (1-2, 3.26) will open in games one and two with Sunday's starter to be announced.

Senior third baseman Jarrod Parks (.389), one of MSU's two 33-game starters this season, sports the SEC's second-best batting average and paces the Diamond Dogs with 44 hits, 15 extra-base hits and 15 multiple-hit games. MSU's other 33-game starter, senior shortstop Jonathan Ogden (.292), shares the team RBI lead (27) with Parks.

Following the weekend series at Arkansas the Bulldogs close out a five-game road run with a Tuesday night clash in Pearl, Miss., with instate league rival Ole Miss in the fifth annual Governor's Cup game. First pitch for the game at Trustmark Park is set for 6:36 p.m., with regional television coverage by Comcast Sports Southeast.


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