News from MSU Media Relations--Feb. 15, 2012.

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Softball, Women's Basketball, Women's Tennis, Football and Cross Country.

Softball
Starkville, Miss. - Softball fans from all over the country will have a chance to see what the hype surrounding the undefeated Mississippi State softball program is all about, as both ESPN and FOX Sports South will broadcast live Bulldog softball this spring, the Southeastern Conference announced this past week.

On Super Bulldog Weekend, ESPNU will be in Mississippi's college town to televise the live matchup between the Maroon and White and the preseason No. 13 Kentucky Wildcats at the MSU Softball Stadium. The game will be played on Saturday, April 21, at 12 p.m., and will be immediately followed by the Bulldogs honoring their former letterwinners with a five-inning alumni softball game. Admission is free to all home games.

The weekend before the Kentucky series in Oxford, Miss., MSU will take on in-state conference foe Ole Miss in a battle of first-year head coaches. Sunday's 1 p.m. rivalry game will be broadcast live by FOX Sports South.

Fans and media wanting to check out the undefeated 5-0 Bulldogs can attend MSU's open practice Thursday at 2:15 p.m., one day before they host their home opener Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. vs. SIU-Edwardsville in the first game of the annual Bulldog Round-Robin.

For more information on MSU Softball, follow the program on at Twitter.com/MStateSB and like them at Facebook.com/MStateSB.


Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Fresh off of an emotional overtime victory against in-state rival Ole Miss, the Mississippi State women's basketball team looks to take that energy into Thursday's matchup against No. 13 Tennessee. Tip for the contest is set for 8 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.

Thursday's contest will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast. The game can also be heard on WKBB-FM 100.9 and WXWX-FM 96.3.

Fans are encouraged to wear black to Thursday's "Blackout Game," which is being sponsored by MSU Health & Wellness/Bully Choices. The first 250 fans will receive a free t-shirt.

The Bulldogs (14-11, 4-8 SEC) will look to big games from seniors Diamber Johnson and Porsha Porter against the Lady Volunteers.

Johnson scored seven points against Ole Miss on Sunday, with her biggest basket being the tying three pointer with five seconds remaining in regulation. Johnson, who rates second in the SEC with a 16.0 scoring average, is coming off a milestone week that saw her become the 19th player in school history to notch 1,000-career points.

After her backcourt mate sent Sunday's game to overtime, Porter led the Lady Bulldogs to victory as she scored six of her game-high 18 points in the five-minute extra session. The senior from Chicago, who is scoring at a 13.2 ppg clip this year, has been exceptional on the defensive end as well, leading the league with 3.3 steals per game.

Freshman Martha Alwal also turned in another stellar defensive effort, collecting 10 rebounds and five blocks. Alwal tops the conference with 3.0 blocks per game.

Tennessee brings an 18-7 overall record and 9-3 league mark into Thursday's contest at the Hump. The Lady Vols routed seventh-ranked Kentucky 91-54 on Monday behind 25 points from Meighan Simmons.

Simmons averages 11.5 ppg this season, third-most on the team behind Shekinna Stricklen (15.0 ppg) and Glory Johnson (13.6 ppg). Johnson also leads UT and the SEC with 9.2 rebounds per game.

Fans can follow Mississippi State women's hoops during the season on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstateWBK) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstateWBK).


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Coming off of a solid 6-1 victory against Southern University, Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis squad (2-1) will host the undefeated Lady Warhawks of Louisiana Monroe (4-0) Thursday. Match time is set for 3 p.m. at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.

ULM will bring the challenge of a nationally ranked player to the table, the first that the Lady Bulldogs have seen this spring. Vivian Polak, a senior for ULM, is ranked at No. 88 in the nation presently.

Three Lady Bulldogs remain undefeated in singles play this spring: Alexandra Perper at 3-0, Naomi Tran at 2-0, and Olesya Tsigvintseva at 1-0.

Following Thursday's action, the Lady Bulldogs will return to the home courts to take on Stephen F. Austin at 1 p.m this Sunday, Feb. 19.

Score updates of Thursday's match will be posted on Twitter at twitter.com/mstateWT. Live stats will be available through hailstate.com.


Football
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Head football coach Dan Mullen will put his 2012 Mississippi State football team through 15 spring practices beginning on March 22, the athletic department announced Wednesday. Each of the 15 workouts will be open to students, fans and alumni.

"Workouts have been going very well, and we're looking forward to getting back on the field and seeing who steps up heading into the summer," Mullen said. "We have some younger guys we need to step into larger roles and we'll see how they progress over these 15 practices."

The Bulldogs will begin work on Thursday, March 22 and follow with a Saturday practice. The second week will feature Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday practices, with the last three weeks seeing work on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Spring practice will conclude with the Maroon-White Game on Saturday, April 21 as part of Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions. The game will kick off at 5 p.m., with a concert by Grammy Award-winning Sugarland immediately following. Tickets are on sale now at www.hailstate.com/tickets.

2012 MISSISSIPPI STATE SPRING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Weekday practices will begin approximately 4:30, with weekend work starting in the mid-morning.

Thursday, March 22
Saturday, March 24
Tuesday, March 27
Thursday, March 29
Saturday, March 31
Tuesday, April 3
Thursday, April 5
Tuesday, April 10
Thursday, April 12
Friday, April 13
Tuesday, April 17
Thursday, April 19
Friday, April 20
Saturday, April 21 (Maroon-White Spring Game - 5 p.m.)

(Please note dates and times may change. HailState.com will publish any schedule adjustments.)


Cross Country
Starkville, Miss. - According to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA), Mississippi State's cross country teams excel in the classroom, as well as on the track. Both the men's and women's teams earned 2011 Division I All-Academic Cross Country statuses.

"It's very exciting to see the hard work from our team off the field," coach Houston Franks commented.

A team must hold a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better and start at least five runners at the NCAA regional championships to qualify for this prestigious honor.

The Bulldogs achieved a 3.54 GPA to earn their All-Academic status, as well as tying for eighth in national academic rankings and second overall in the SEC. A total of 147 institutions representing 30 conferences compose the Division I group.

The Lady Bulldogs studied their way to All-Academic honors, a 15th place academic ranking and second in the SEC with a cumulative team GPA of 3.61. MSU's honor was chosen among a group that includes a total of 205 institutions that represent 30 different conferences.

"These are perfect examples of student athletes," Franks added. "Their true dedications in the classroom also speak volumes of our academic support staff at the Larry Templeton athletic facility."


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