News from MSU Media Relations--Apr. 19

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

Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Freshman Sam Lenahan had two hits and three RBI, and junior Misty Flesher tossed three innings of two-hit relief as the Mississippi State softball team powered its way to a 9-1 win in six innings against Mississippi Valley State Tuesday afternoon at the MSU Softball Field.

Lenahan hit her 12th double of the season as part of State's 13-hit attack. Senior Ali Bainbridge went 2-for-2 and matched Lenahan with her 12th two-bagger of the season.

Senior Courtney Nesbit and freshman Heidi Shape had two hits apiece, and Nesbit and senior Chelsea Raines each drove in two runs.

Freshman Briana Bell hit her second home run of the season in the fourth inning.

Flesher picked up her seventh win of the season as she scattered two hits over three innings in relief of Bulldog starter Kylie Vry. Vry allowed a run and five hits during the opening three frames.

"We did a good job of making adjustments at the plate, and we ended up putting some hits together in the fifth and sixth innings," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "Misty threw a great game in relief. Kylie struggled a little early, and Misty came in and did a great job shutting them down the rest of the way."

Mississippi State (22-24) jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Bainbridge walked and took second on a Jessica Cooley single to right field. Ka'ili Smith moved the pair with a sacrifice bunt, and Bainbridge came home on Nesbit's single to left.

MVSU (22-20) scored the tying run in the top of the third, but the Bulldogs answered right back with the winning run in the home half of the frame.

Bainbridge was once again the catalyst, opening the inning with a single. Cooley sacrificed her to second, and Smith and Nesbit reached on a walk and error, respectively, to load the bases. Lenahan gave the Dawgs the lead back with a ground ball to second that plated Bainbridge.

Bell put the Bulldogs up 3-1 as she took the first pitch from MVSU starter Kim Spivey over the left-field wall for a two-out, solo home run.

Spivey fell to 14-12 as she was touched for the nine MSU runs and 13 hits in the complete-game effort. She struck out six and walked three.

With Flesher cruising in the circle, her offense gave her some additional support with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Smith singled and stole second to open the inning. She took third on a Nesbit base hit. Lenahan then cleared the bases with a double to the wall in center field. After Shape reached on a bunt single, Raines gave the Bulldogs a 6-1 advantage with a groundout to second base.

Another three-run burst by Mississippi State in the bottom of the sixth wrapped the victory. Bainbridge was hit by a pitch to reach with the leadoff run for the third time in the game. Chrissie Rovtar ran for her and took second on pinch-hitter Rachael Zdeb's first career hit, a single to right field.

Nesbit scored Rovtar with a sacrifice fly to deep left field. After Lenahan singled up the middle, Shape followed with an RBI base hit of her own that put the Dawgs up 8-1. Raines ended the game as her bouncer found its way into center field, allowing Lenahan cross home with State's final run.

The Bulldogs, who improved to 17-4 at home this season, head to Knoxville this weekend for a three-game Southeastern Conference series against No. 4 Tennessee. The two teams open play Thursday at 6 p.m. CT. Friday's game is set for a 5 p.m. first pitch, while Saturday's series finale is set for an 11 a.m. first pitch.

The first two games of the series will be televised live on SportSouth. A free, live audio stream for all three games will be available at www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's men's tennis team, following a weekend that saw the Bulldogs oust 30th-ranked arch rival Ole Miss 5-2 Saturday at home to close out the 2011 regular season, has jumped two more spots to 19th nationally in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings, released Tuesday.

State, 13-7 overall and 8-3 in the Southeastern Conference, now turns its attention to postseason play. The Bulldogs will open competition in the 2011 SEC Championship this Friday, April 22, at Florida's Ring Tennis Complex. By way of its win over the Rebels Saturday, State earned the #4 seed and a first-round bye in this weekend's tournament. MSU will meet the winner of fifth-seeded and 17th-ranked host Florida and 12th-seeded Arkansas at 3 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.

The Bulldogs, which have won eight of their last 10 matches, claimed the SEC Western Division title outright this season by going 5-0 against the division and posted the program's best SEC regular season record since 1998's NCAA semifinal squad went 9-2.

New individual rankings were also released Tuesday and four Bulldogs remained among the nation's top 100 players. State's George Coupland is 58th nationally in singles, Artem Ilyushin moved up to 59th, Louis Cant is 78th and true freshman Malte Stropp is 103rd.

In doubles, Cant and Stropp are now 33rd in the country, while Coupland and Ilyushin are 58th as a tandem.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the fourth time in the 2011 season, Mississippi State's Malte Stropp has been named the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Week.

During Friday's epic defeat over 30th ranked arch-rival Ole Miss, Stropp paired with fellow Bulldog Louis Cant as the 53rd best doubles team in the country. After being down 7-5 on court 1, the Stropp/Cant duo won four-straight games to oust the #9 pair of Marcel and Chris Theimann.

In singles, 89th ranked Stropp clinched the match for the Bulldogs in the fourth position as he took down Jonas Lutjen of the Rebels 7-5, 6-2. Overall, Stropp has clinched four matches for MSU in the 2011 season, three of which coming in SEC play. Possibly his most memorable match-clinching performance came against the 4th ranked Volunteers of Tennessee where ousted #56 Matteo Fago en route to a 6-1 Bulldog victory.

Stropp finished the season on a 10-match win streak and 9-1 in conference play. His efforts have earned a #89 overall ranking and 53rd in doubles alongside Cant.

MSU heads to Gainesville on Thursday for the SEC Tournament being played from April 21-24. The Bulldogs will take on the winner of Florida v. Arkansas on Friday, April 22 at 2 p.m. CT.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - With only two meets remaining until the SEC Championships in May, the Mississippi State men's track and field team makes its way toward the final turn ranked No. 7 in this week's USTFCCCA poll.

The Bulldogs are one of seven SEC ranked in the Top 25, while the SEC as a whole is billed as the top conference.

"You always like to be ranked, but I'm more concerned with where we will be at the end of June," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "The regular season is coming to a close, and now we've got to take it to a different level. I've always thought we are at our best toward the end of the year, which is where you want to be."

The Bulldogs have athletes ranked in the Top 25 in eight different categories. The women, while not in the Top 25 as a team, have two athletes ranked individually in the Top 25.

Tavaris Tate maintains his spot as the highest ranking Bulldog with his No. 2 ranking in the 400m dash. Tate is joined in the category by teammate O'Neal Wilder at No. 8. D'Angelo Cherry is No. 3 in the 100m dash, ahead of Kendall May in 13th. Emanuel Mayers is 7th in the 400m hurdles, while James Harris is the lone ranked field athlete, coming in at No. 6 in the high jump.

Rounding out the Bulldog rankings are the 4x400m crew who is No. 3 and the 4x100m quartet that ranks sixth.

For the Lady Bulldogs, it is Jody-Ann Muir leading the way with her No. 17 ranking in the 400m dash. Jessica Merriweather is next coming in at No. 23 in the high jump.

MSU hopes to improve their rankings as they compete at the Ole Miss Invitational on Saturday, April 23, in Oxford. Then the Bulldogs wrap up the regular season April 28-30 in Philadelphia, Pa., at the prestigious Penn Relays.


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