STARKVILLE, Miss. - Rain turned into sunshine both in the skies and the win column as Mississippi State (7-1) wrapped up the 2012 Bulldog Round-Robin with wins over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (5-3) and Mississippi Valley State (0-7) Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Maroon and White defeated the Cougars by a 5-0 margin to pick up its first shut out of the season, and followed it up with a 3-2 victory over in-state foe MVSU.
"SIU-Edwardsville gave us a run for our money and Mississippi Valley State gave us a great game as well," Stuedeman said. "One of the biggest things we need to improve upon is our base running. We have to improve in that area and clean up everything."
Junior left-handed pitcher Kylie Vry responded from Friday's loss to SIU-E with her third-complete game victory of the season, starting the afternoon with a season-high 10 strikeouts and just one walk. Fellow junior lefty Stephanie Becker followed suit in the second game, tallying her second complete-game win of the 2012 campaign with a season-best seven strikeouts and zero walks.
Senior designated player Brittany Bell continued her torrid start to the year, going 3-for-5 combined Sunday with two RBIs, two runs, a home run, triple and a double. Junior left fielder Shelby Fisher extended her career-long hitting streak to eight games, finishing the day a combined 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs, as well as her first career home run.
In game one, Bell received the green light on a 3-1 count in the bottom of the first, sending a solo shot over the fence in left for an early 1-0 MSU lead. State stretched out its lead with a three-run third, started by sophomore center fielder Jessica Offutt's leadoff single up the middle. The Madison, Ala., native stole second and crossed the dish after senior first baseman Ka'ili Smith also singled to center. Up 2-0, Fisher doubled the lead by launching a 1-1 offering to the parking lot in right for a 4-0 lead. The final run of the first Sunday triumph came on junior right fielder Jessica Cooley scoring on a passed ball in the sixth.
Game two vs. MVSU took a little bit longer for the Bulldogs' offense to get started, but Bell and Fisher were once against the catalysts. Scoreless in the bottom of the third, Fisher started a two-out rally with a single to right-center field. Bell stepped to the plate and roped a double down the left-field line to plate the Arizona native, and was knocked in by a single to left by sophomore first baseman Sam Lenahan.
Both teams went scoreless in the fourth before the Devilettes scored two unearned runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game. With the game hanging in the balance with one down in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs drew two-consecutive full-count walks courtesy of junior Erin Nesbit and sophomore Heidi Shape. Senior Brittany Gates stepped to the plate and proceeded to load the bases with an infield bunt single. With the momentum pointing toward the home dugout, Smith stepped into the box and connected on a 1-0 pitch to deep center field. The ball hit the top of the wall above the 220-feet sign, but bounced into the center fielder's glove. Nesbit scored from third on the single to score the winning run, while confusion on the base paths led to an inning-ending double play.
Starkville's team returns to the field next with a daunting task Feb. 24-26 at the 2012 NFCA Leadoff Classic at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The Bulldogs will play five games, including games against No. 11 Michigan (Feb. 26, 9 a.m.), No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette (Feb. 24, 12 p.m.) and No. 23 Georgia Tech (Feb. 25, 2:30 p.m.). Stuedeman's squad will also square off against 2011 NCAA Tournament squad DePaul (Feb. 25, 5 p.m.) and host South Florida (Feb. 24, 5 p.m.).
For more information regarding MSU's trip to the Sunshine State, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB, and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State freshman Jerica James performed well in her return home.
Playing in her native state of Arkansas, James scored a career-high 12 points but did not get enough offensive support as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 67-53 decision to Arkansas in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played Sunday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.
With the defeat, MSU fell to 14-13 overall and 4-10 in league play. Arkansas improved to 20-6 and 9-5. The Lady Bulldogs have now lost seven of their last eight but remain in sole possession of ninth place in the conference standing with one week to play.
Arkansas scored the game's first nine points and MSU never forced a tie or took a lead in the contest. The contest did remain competitive however, as the Maroon and White battled back from the early nine-point deficit to close within 16-14 on a layup by Shamia Robinson.
Two possessions later, James tied the contest at 19 on a 3-point basket. A North Little Rock native, James played 20 minutes in her first career start.
"Jerica gave us some good minutes and we decided to start her today," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "She is starting to understand the game more but is still learning as a freshman. She has a punch to her. She is a competitor and she is coachable. She can shoot the basketball as she showed today."
Arkansas scored the game's next four points and eased into halftime with a 28-23 advantage.
In the second half, the Razorbacks scored the half's first four points and quickly stretched the lead to 12 points on two free throws by Sarah Watkins. The Lady Bulldogs closed within eight points less than a minute later on two free throws by Kendra Grant.
A 9-4 Arkansas run helped move the hosts back out of danger. The Razorbacks stretched the lead to as many as 16 in the closing minutes.
"We have to straighten out some things when it comes to team defense," Fanning-Otis said. "We have to play for 40 minutes and block out to not give our opponent second looks. We didn't have the 40 minute effort we needed today, but I thought we did some things well. Arkansas played hard, and hopefully we can come back strong over these last couple of games."
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 21 of 59 shots from the field (35.6 percent), 2 of 11 shots from 3-point range (18.2 percent) and 9 of 12 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). The Razorbacks hit 25 of 61 shots from the field (41.0 percent), 7 of 26 shots from 3-point range (26.9 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent).
Arkansas held a 39-38 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 11 assists and nine turnovers, while the Razorbacks had 17 assists and seven turnovers.
Porsha Porter had nine points and Robinson had eight points for the Lady Bulldogs. Ashley Brown had a team-high seven rebounds.
Arkansas received a double-double from Ashley Daniels (10 points, 16 rebounds). C'Eira Ricketts scored 18 points, while Lyndsay Harris followed with 17 points. Watkins finished with 12 points.
MSU remains on the road Thursday for a 6 p.m. central time start at Florida. The Lady Bulldogs close their season with a 12:30 p.m. home game Sunday against No. 7 Kentucky. MSU will recognize its senior class before that contest, which will be televised nationally on ESPNU as part of the network's prestigious "Campus Connection" package.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Despite pulling out some hard-fought victories in singles late in the match, Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis was unable to overcome Stephen F. Austin Sunday afternoon, falling 4-3.
Sunday's competition began on a high note with an impressive doubles win as Alexandra Perper and Olesya Tsigvintseva paired up to notch an 8-5 win against the nation's 17th-ranked duo of Jithmie Jayawickerema and Alina Shazhko at the No. 2 position. The SFA duo was previously undefeated in seven matches this season.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the doubles competition did not follow suit and for the first time this spring MSU was unable to claim the doubles point. On court 1, Ekaterina Iakovleva and Naomi Tran fell 8-5 to Tereza Bekerova and Malena Gordo of SFA. Roseline Dion and Petra Ferancova also fell 8-5 against Antonia Kolovou and Elena Kordolaimi for the Jacks at No. 3.
In singles play, things were pretty close early on in several of the matches, but SFA gained early momentum as MSU's Ferancova fell 6-1, 6-0 to SFA's Kolovou at No. 5. The 'Jacks followed that with another victory as Shazhko took down MSU's previously undefeated freshman Tran 6-2, 6-2 on court 4, giving the Jacks a 3-0 lead.
Competition stiffened greatly on the remaining four courts, as tiebreakers were played in the first sets on courts one, two, and six.
The tiebreaker on court six resulted in a 7-6(4) first-set loss for Lady Bulldog Dion. Dion then ended up falling 6-1 in the second set, allowing Stephen F. Austin to clinch the day's victory over the Lady Bulldogs at 4-0.
As play continued, State got its first point of the afternoon when Tsigvintseva finished off a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Jayawickerema at the No. 3 spot.
To end the day, MSU would claim three-set wins at the top two positions in the lineup. At No. 2, Iakovleva rallied from a one-set deficit to win 6-7(6), 6-1, 1-0(2) over Kordolaimi. At No. 1, Perper held off a challenge from Bekerova to post a 7-6(5), 4-6, 1-0(4) triumph.
When asked about today's mach, head coach Daryl Greenan replied, "Our top three did a great job today picking up solid wins. Unfortunately we came up one match short. We had our chances in doubles but didn't capitalize. Les and Sasha played with the right kind of energy in doubles today and it paid off with a nice win over a ranked team."
The Lady Bulldogs will now host two matches next weekend. MSU will take on Tulsa at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, and Southern Miss at 12 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 26.
Follow all of the Lady Bulldog's matches through live updates at twitter.com/mstateWT or through live stats on hailstate.com.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - With a streak of five straight Top 25 finishes on the line, the Mississippi State men's golf team travels to Mobile, Ala., for the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate hosted by South Alabama on the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove.
The Bulldogs will face off against SEC-foes Kentucky and Vanderbilt as well as Akron, Arkansas State, No. 22 Illinois, UL-Lafayette, Memphis, Mercer, Middle Tennessee State, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Toledo and Wake Forest.
Coach Clay Homan's lineup features Chad Ramey, John Darden, Alex Rowland, Tyler Smith and Clay Bounds.
Ramey and Rowland continued their stellar seasons during the Gator Invitational. Each owns a spot in the Top 25 SEC scoring leaders. Ramey's 72.50 clip is 14th-best overall in the SEC and fifth best among underclassmen.
Darden is appearing in his second straight tournament after he posted a solid 10-over 220 at the Gator Invitational a week ago.
Redshirt-freshman Tyler Smith is making his fifth appearance out of six tournaments, while transfer Clay Bounds is making his first appearance in the Maroon and White.
While the team tournament will be played on the Crossings Course, an individual event will be taking place on the Falls Course for two rounds and with a round on the Par-3 Course sandwiched in between.
Representing MSU in the individual contest will be Fletcher Johnson, Mike Genovese and Barrett Edens.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com as MSU is scheduled to tee off alongside UL-Lafayette and Kentucky at 8:30 a.m. CST.
Don't forget to stay connected through the Bulldogs' Facebook and Twitter pages at facebook.com/mstateMG and @mstateMG.