News from MSU Media Relations--Apr. 15

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

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 2011 regular season will come to a close Saturday afternoon when Mississippi State's 21st-ranked men's tennis team, the Southeastern Conference Western Division champion, squares off against 30th-ranked arch rival Ole Miss on the MSU campus. Match time between the Bulldogs and Rebels is set for 1 p.m. CT at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.

Seniors Antonio Lastre, Max Gregor Smith and Tanner Stump will be honored prior to Saturday's match.

State, 12-7 overall and 7-3 in the SEC, claimed the Western Division crown last weekend after road wins at #21 Auburn and #42 Alabama. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last nine contests with only two tough 4-3 setbacks to top 20 teams Florida and Georgia in the loss column during that stretch.

The Rebels will enter Saturday's affair at 11-7 overall and 5-5 in league play. UM has dropped three of its last four contests, but two of those setbacks were to current top 5 teams Tennessee and Georgia in close 4-3 decisions.

Four Bulldogs are ranked in the top 100 nationally in singles with George Coupland (55th), Artem Ilyushin (66th), Louis Cant (76th) and Malte Stropp (89th). Cant and Stropp have each won nine straight matches. In doubles, Coupland and Ilyushin are rated 36th nationally while Cant and Stropp team to form the country's 53rd-ranked duo.

Ole Miss has two players ranked in singles in Marcel Thiemann (36th) and Tucker Vorster (98th). Thiemann and brother Christoph are the nation's No. 9 doubles tandem.

"This will obviously be a great match to watch and will be a classic rivalry matchup," MSU head coach Per Nilsson said. "We need everyone to come out Saturday and help us end the regular season on a high note."

Follow Saturday's rivalry matchup, State will prepare for the 2011 SEC Championship, to be held April 21-24 in Gainesville, Fla.


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's tennis squad (2-14, 0-10 SEC) travels to Oxford on Saturday, April 16 to close out the 2011 regular season against #37 Ole Miss (10-9, 3-7 SEC).

MSU has fought hard this season and have not given up. One major contributor to the Lady Bulldog line-up this season has been freshman Alexandra Perper. Although she just joined the team in January, Perper has competed in the top spot of singles and doubles action in every dual match this season. She has compiled six victories on court 1 of singles action, two of which against ranked opponents.

This will be senior Elizabeth Hall's final regular season match in the Maroon and White and the Lady Bulldog squad will miss her. Her efforts on and off the court have placed her on the Acadamic All-SEC list four straight years, along with being named a 2009 ITA Scholar Athlete.

Ole Miss boasts two players in the top 125 of the country along with a top-30 doubles team. Kristi Boxx is ranked 28th overall trailed by 107th ranked Caroline Rohde-Moe. Boxx and Abbie Guthrie are #26 overall in doubles.

Match time is slated for 11 a.m. CT at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.

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


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State softball'S Friday series opener at No. 3 Alabama has been postponed until Saturday due to heavy rains and dangerous storms moving through Mississippi and Alabama. The two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.

Game two of the series will be played immediately following the conclusion of Saturday's 2 p.m. opener. Sunday's game three is set for a 1:30 p.m. first pitch at Rhoads Stadium.

Head coach Jay Miller's Bulldogs take a 21-21 overall record and 8-8 SEC mark into the Western Division showdown. Alabama (38-5) leads the SEC West with a 12-4 league record.


Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Alan Johnson's second professional baseball pitching assignment of the 2011 season could be his first on the Major League level.

The former Mississippi State pitcher from Birmingham, Ala., is listed as the Colorado Rockies' probable starter for Sunday's home game against the Chicago Cubs after his minor league contract was purchased Thursday by Colorado. The Rockies optioned pitcher Greg Reynolds to Class AAA Colorado Springs and transferred another right-hander, Aaron Cook, to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Johnson on Colorado's 40-man roster.

He becomes the 47th baseball player with Mississippi State ties to advance to the highest level of professional baseball and joins three other former Diamond Dog players ---- pitchers Paul Maholm (Pittsburgh) and Jonathan Papelbon (Boston) and first baseman Mitch Moreland (Texas) currently active on the Major League level. Former Diamond Dog Nat (Buck) Showalter joins that foursome in MLB as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

Johnson, 27, lettered at Mississippi State from 2003 to 2005 and signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies following the 2005 campaign. He began his seventh year in professional baseball and his third season in the starting rotation of the Class AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox April 8.

In three seasons at Mississippi State, Johnson appeared in 44 games, drawing 43 starts and compiling a 13-15 record with 177 strikeouts and a 4.82 career earned run. He was honored as the SEC Pitcher of the Week three times in 2003, twice after complete-game shutout pitching performances against Ole Miss and LSU. Johnson was 10-8 with a 5.91 ERA last year in Colorado Springs and has compiled a 56-42 record with a 4.55 earned run average and 598 strikeouts during his career in minor league baseball.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Not even heavy rains that forced a four-hour delay Friday could slow Mississippi State at the Jace Lacoste Invitational.

Instead, the Maroon and White won two events, starting with freshman Katie Huston in the women's 5000m run. The Huntsville, Ala., native posted a time of 17:49.80 to take first, ahead of teammate Dominique Lockhart, who finished fourth (19:11.60).

In the field events, Ed Wesela won the discus (166-09), followed by teammates Antoine Lipscomb in fifth (117-01) and Cliff Halfacre in sixth (108-02).

Michael Clark was the lone Bulldog track athlete in competition Friday. The freshman finished second in the 5000m run with a time of 15:32.30.

In other track and field competition on Friday, Adam Lenz and Haley Greenwell traveled to Walnut, Calif., to compete in the 53rd Annual Mt. SAC Relays. Greenwell ran a personal best 34:04.18 to finish seventh and secure a place atop the MSU All-Time List. Lenz also posted a personal best as he finished 25th with a time of 30:18.08.

Action at the Jace Lacoste Invitational continues on Saturday at 10:00 am at the Carl Maddox Track Complex and is free to attend.


Men's Golf
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - True freshman Axel Boasson led the Mississippi State men's golf team in round one of the SEC Championship on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island on Friday with a 70. He is currently tied for fifth and just two strokes off the tournament lead.

The Bulldogs finished round-one action with a 299 card that is worthy of 10th-place and is the team's third-best opening round score this spring.

Boasson's freshman counterpart, Chad Ramey, finished just three strokes behind him with a 73 and is currently tied for 21st. Junior Lee Heaton followed Ramey with a 77, while sophomore Brad Mason chased him with a 79. Sophomore Robi Calvesbert rounded out MSU's day with an 80.

Florida currently leads the field with a 5-over-par 285, while John Peterson of LSU is tops individually with a 2-under-par 78.

Second-round action begins at 9:00 a.m. CT Saturday. Live stats will be available through www.mstateathletics.com


Women's Golf
AUBURN, Ala. - Erika Thornton turned in a 1-under-par 71 in the first round of the SEC Tournament at the University Club in Auburn on Friday. The 71 clip is lowest SEC Tournament score of the senior's career and the lowest first-round score for a Lady Bulldogs in the championship event since Christina Clausen's 71 in the 2000. Thornton currently sits in a tie for ninth.

"The SEC is very strong," she said. "We haven't shown our full potential yet. My play was very consistent today. Hopefully tomorrow I can keep my momentum going and get a few more putts to fall."

Mississippi State's 315 card earned the team a share of 10th place and is the team's second-lowest opening round score in the SEC Tournament since 2007.

Freshman Mary Langdon Gallagher stepped up to help pace the lady linksters with a 7-over-par 79. She was followed by fellow freshman Esther Huffman and sophomore Maria Roos who notched an 82 and 83, respectively. Senior Mallory Batson trailed Roos by only two strokes with an 85.

Auburn currently leads the field with a 5-under-par 283, while Erika Popson of Tennessee is tops individually with a 6-under-par 66.

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


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