News from MSU Media Relations--June 30

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Baseball and Softball.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State Baseball Coach John Cohen, who led the Bulldogs to within one game of the College World Series and a No. 15 national ranking, has received a contract extension through the 2015 season, Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin announced Thursday.

"John and his staff have done a tremendous job of leading our baseball program back to national prominence by recruiting top talent and instilling toughness," Stricklin said. "I look forward to John being our head coach for many years to come."

Cohen's new four-year contract includes an increase in base salary from $250,000 to $262,500. He will continue to receive a salary supplement from the Bulldog Foundation.

"It's a privilege to work at Mississippi State University under the leadership of Dr. Mark Keenum and Scott Stricklin," said Cohen. "I'm so appreciative of the support of the Bulldog Nation. This is a great time to be part of the Mississippi State family."

In his third season as MSU's head baseball coach, Cohen directed Mississippi State to a four-year best 38-25 record in 2011. State returned to postseason play for the first time since 2007, sweeping its way to the championship of the NCAA Atlanta Regional and, with an impressive showing in the Gainesville Super Regional, coming within a win of the program's ninth advancement to the NCAA College World Series.

The Bulldogs, tabbed in a preseason SEC coaches' poll for a sixth-place finish in the SEC West, recorded the program's biggest single-season turnaround in conference play. State finished its 2011 campaign a game out of first place in the SEC West and posted a 14-16 overall league record, a school-best eight-win improvement over 2010.

Mississippi State also garnered its first season-ending national ranking since 2007 this week with a No. 15 placement in the final USA TODAY/ESPN poll of coaches.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University placed 14 baseball players on the 2011 Southeastern Conference Spring Academic Honor Roll, the SEC announced Thursday. Over the past three years, 47 Diamond Dogs have represented Mississippi State on the conference's academic honor roll.

This spring's academic all-conference listing includes 69 student-athletes representing Mississippi State's eight men's and women's spring sports.

Junior outfielder Brent Brownlee of Oxford, Miss., heads up the Diamond Dog academic honorees, earning his third academic all-conference designation. A trio of senior players – catcher Cody Freeman of Collinsville, Miss., outfielder Trey Johnson of Tyler, Texas, and catcher Wes Thigpen of Luling, La., closed out their collegiate careers earning Academic All-SEC accolades for the second time each.

Also named to this year's academic all-conference team are Ben Bracewell (Chelsea, Ala.), Sam Frost (Hoover, Ala.), Chad Girodo (Hartselle, Ala.), Kendall Graveman (Alexander City, Ala.), Luis Pollorena (Laredo, Texas), Caleb Reed (Cleveland, Miss.), Nick Routt (Silver Spring, Md.), Tim Statz (St. Louis, Mo.), Chris Stratton (Tupelo, Miss.), and C.C. Watson (Heflin, Ala.).

Among qualifications for the SEC Academic Honor Roll, a student-athlete must have compiled a grade point average of at least 3.00 for the preceding academic year or have a cumulative career GPA of 3.00 or better.

Since the Southeastern Conference initiated its academic honors program for student-athletes in 1971, Mississippi State baseball players have received academic all-conference or honor roll status a league-best 312 times.

Six Mississippi State baseball athletes have also qualified for the 2011 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, to be announced in July by the league office.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head softball coach Vann Stuedeman announced this week that standout Alabama prep coach and former Georgia assistant Alan Reach will be joining her Bulldog coaching staff as an assistant coach.

Reach comes to Starkville following a six-year tenure at Tuscaloosa County High School in which he guided the program to three state tournament berths and the AHSAA 6A Area 9 title each season.

"I am very excited to have a coach of Alan's caliber joining us here at Mississippi State. He will make an immediate impact on our program with his contagious spirit and love for the sport," Stuedeman said. "He is a family man with tremendous character and integrity, and he will act as an exceptional role model for our student-athletes."

Last season he coached the Wildcats to the area title and a fourth-place finish in the state 6A tournament. Playing in Alabama's largest classification, his squad advanced to the state tournament after taking runner-up accolades in the AHSAA North Central Regional Tournament.

In 2009, the two-time West Alabama 6A Coach of the Year was named head coach of the AHSAA North All-Star Team after guiding TCHS to its second state tournament showing. The team also claimed region and area championships.

"I am very excited for the opportunity to coach here at Mississippi State and in the SEC," Reach said. "It's an honor to be able to coach under Vann because of her vision, passion and excitement. I'm thrilled to join this program knowing the potential it has under Vann's leadership."

Reach is no stranger to the league, as he served as an assistant coach for Georgia's 2004 squad that went 55-17 and fell a win shy of advancing to the Women's College World Series. Under his tutelage the Bulldogs posted the third-highest batting average in the nation, and two players (Kim Wendland and Nicole Barber) claimed first team NFCA All-America and All-SEC accolades.

A 2002 graduate of Alabama, Reach played middle infield for the Wallace Community College-Selma and Tennessee Wesleyan College baseball teams.

Reach and his wife Ann are expecting their first child in October.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's softball program turned in another stellar effort in the classroom as 10 players were named to the 2011 SEC Academic Honor Roll that was released by the conference office on Thursday.

Mississippi State had 69 student-athletes from its eight men's and women's sports earn the academic laurel.

Since 1999, the Bulldog softball program has amassed a league-best 139 honorees.

Ali Bainbridge, Courtney Nesbit and Misty Flesher helped maintain the Bulldogs' classroom dominance by earning their fourth selections to the honor roll.

Stephanie Becker, Jessica Cooley, Shelby Fisher, Erin Nesbit, Chrissie Rovtar and Kylie Vry each collected their second honor roll nod after being named to the freshman list following the 2010 season. Lindsey Dunlap garnered her first selection.

Among qualifications for the SEC Academic Honor Roll, a student-athlete must have compiled a grade point average of 3.00 or better for the preceding academic year or have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.

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