News from MSU Media Relations--Feb. 26, 2012.

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

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Two close plays at the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning was all it took for No. 12 Michigan to snatch a 3-1 victory from the hands of Mississippi State Sunday at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex. The loss on the final day of the NFCA Leadoff Classic dropped the Bulldogs to 8-5 on the season, while UM improved to 11-3.

"Michigan was very efficient on offense today with three runs on four hits," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We improved tremendously this weekend. Everyone involved is ready to get back to Starkville and get back to work. We are hungry for our next game."

Senior designated player Brittany Bell finished off her stellar weekend with a 2-for-3 outing, including a run batted in. Senior catcher Ka'ili Smith (1-for-4) and juniors Shelby Fisher (1-for-3) and Jessica Cooley (1-for-3) also tallied singles for the Bulldogs.

Kylie Vry took the loss on the rubber for MSU, falling to 4-2 in 2012. The junior left-hander gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits in 4.1 innings of work, striking out four and walking four. Senior lefty Lindsey Dunlap pitched an inning for MSU as well, allowing one run on three walks. Junior southpaw Stephanie Becker closed out the game with 0.2 hitless innings for Starkville's team. Michigan left-handed freshman Haylie Wagner picked up the win for UM to improve to 7-0, allowing one run on four hits over 4.2 innings, while issuing one base on balls.

Solid pitching and great defense held both teams scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when the home Wolverines plated two runs on two hits and an error. Michigan third baseman Amanda Chidester led off the inning with a double to right-center field, taking second once the ball scooted past a diving Brittany Gates. She was stranded for two batters as Vry forced a popout to the catcher and then struck out UM's Lauren Sweet. With two down, Wolverines' catcher Caitlin Blanchard singled up the middle and Chidester rounded third, headed for home. Bulldog center fielder Jessica Offutt fielded it and gunned it home, but Chidester slid safely under Smith's tag in a bang-bang play at the plate. After giving Michigan a 1-0 lead, Blanchard advanced to second on the throw home and scored three pitches later when a ground ball by junior teammate Amy Knapp went through the legs of Fisher at first base.

The Maroon and White responded in the top half of the next inning, starting with a single by Cooley just over the shortstop's head in left. Cooley made it to second on a sacrifice bunt by Offutt, and then advanced to third on a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right by Smith. With two outs, junior pinch hitter Chrissie Rovtar reached first when she took a 2-2 pitch up and in on the hand. With two on, Bell singled right up the middle, allowing Cooley to cross the plate for the Bulldogs' only run of the day.

Michigan added an insurance run with a bases-loaded walk by Vry in the bottom of the sixth to give the game its final score of 3-1.

Stuedeman's squad travels next to Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, for a 4 p.m. contest against Jackson State at the JSU Softball Complex. For more information regarding the MSU softball program follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB, and like the team at

Complete Game Stats

Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - An emotional day on the Mississippi State campus had a sad ending as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 76-40 decision to No. 10 Kentucky on Senior Day in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs were playing the final regular season game under the direction of head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, who announced her retirement Monday. Fanning-Otis guided MSU to 11 postseason appearances in her 17 seasons as head coach.

"This was an emotional day for me because I was a part of lot of the memories she had here," MSU senior guard Diamber Johnson said. "This has been a great experience. We have always brought energy. We have always played hard, even when we were up against really good opponents. That has been the trademark of this program."

The Lady Bulldogs finish the regular season at 14-15 overall and 4-12 in league play. Kentucky clinched the overall SEC regular season championship for the first time in 30 years. The 13th-ranked Wildcats improved to 24-5 overall and 13-3 in league play.

MSU will enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 10 seed. The Lady Bulldogs will play No. 7 Vanderbilt in a first-round game 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net.

"We enter the tournament with a lot of confidence," Johnson said. "We feel like we can play with anybody in the league. We hope to go in there and shake some things up."

On Sunday, the Lady Bulldogs said good-bye to six seniors in pre-game ceremonies. Fanning-Otis was honored with a postgame video tribute, which moved the 36-year head coaching veteran to tears. A reception in her honor was held postgame in the Mize Pavilion.

"I am thankful for so many memories," Fanning-Otis said. "I feel blessed to have had this opportunity. The players who have worn this jersey have represented this university and this state in a fine fashion. This season's not over, but I am looking forward to being the program's biggest supporter in the future."

The Wildcats used their frantic full-court pressure to force a season-worst 33 turnovers by the Lady Bulldogs. Kentucky built on an early 8-7 advantage by scoring the game's next 11 points.

A follow-up 10-0 run allowed the guests to take a commanding 29-10 advantage with 4:28 left in the half. The Lady Bulldogs shot 22.2 percent from the field in the opening half and trailed 41-17 at halftime.

"Kentucky is a good team and they are really good at what they do," MSU senior guard Porsha Porter. "What separates Kentucky is they play with that type of effort for 40 minutes. They guard you hard on every possession. That is how they practice and that is how they played."

A 9-2 run to start the second half pushed Kentucky to a 30-plus point advantage in the early stages of the game's final half.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 14 of 53 shots attempts from the field (26.4 percent), 2 of 8 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent). The Wildcats hit 27 of 67 shots from the field (40.3 percent), 7 of 18 shots from 3-point range (38.9 percent) and 15 of 22 shots from the foul line (68.2 percent).

The teams were even at 42 on rebounds. MSU had nine assists and 33 turnovers, while UK had 10 assists and 16 turnovers.

Kendra Grant paced MSU with nine points, while Johnson and Porter each had eight points in their final game.

Kentucky received 13 points from A'dia Mathies and Bernisha Pinkett, while Samarie Walker had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Complete Game Stats

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Bouncing back from a tough loss against #19 Tulsa Staurday, Mississippi State Lady Bulldog Tennis (4-3) shut out in-state opponent Southern Miss in a 7-0 decision Sunday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.

Mississippi State came out with a bang as they notched victories on all three courts in doubles play.

Khrystyna Pavlyuk and Alexandra Perper paired up against USM's Frances Askew and Kate Lanier to execute an 8-3 victory at the No. 1 position. Roseline Dion and Ekaterina Iakovleva followed suit with another 8-3 win, taking down Mackenzie Oskin and Moorea Williams on court three. Olesya Tsigvintseva and Naomi Tran kept the doubles slate clean, posting a tough 9-7 victory against Elja van Berlo and Alex Bradley of USM at the No. 2 position.

Turning to singles action, the Lady Bulldogs carried on the day's winning ways. Perper took the first singles point, taking a 6-2 victory in the first set of play and leading 3-0 in the second before her opponent, Southern Miss' van Berlo, retired due to injury at the top spot. Competing at the No. 4 position, the true freshman Tran advanced the Bulldogs to a 3-0 overall lead with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 decision against Oskin.

The match clinching point came from the No. 6 position as Dion secured a 6-4, 6-1 victory over USM sophomore Bradley.

In other singles matches, MSU's Iakovleva took down Alexis Coats in a 6-1, 6-2 decision on court two. Tsigvintseva secured a victory at the No. 3 position, posting a 6-3 win in the third set of competition against Lanier of Southern Miss. Ferancova posted the final Lady Bulldog victory of the day, executing a 7-6, 6-3 triumph against Moorea Williams of the Golden Eagles on court 5.

Head Coach Daryl Greenan was very pleased with the team's performance in doubles competition and overall.

"We lost the doubles point to them last year so it was nice to win all three doubles today. It was a complete team effort today and we were pushed in a couple positions so it was nice to come out with the sweep," Greenan said.

Mississippi State will commence conference play at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 2, as they head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take on Alabama's 20th-ranked Crimson Tide. The Lady Bulldogs will continue SEC play with another road match against Auburn University at 12 p.m. the following Sunday.

Updates for these matches will be available through twitter: @mstateWT, as well as through live stats links found on

Men's Tennis
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Posting their third-straight shutout of the weekend, Mississippi State's 15th-ranked men's tennis squad (9-2) downed No. 23 Texas Tech (6-4) 4-0 in their Sunday afternoon match at the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic.

The win came on the heels of identical 4-0 blankings of #59 Cornell and #44 Boise State on Saturday and extended MSU's win streak to five in a row. For the weekend, State only dropped two sets in 18 singles matches played.

As Sunday's matches were played in normal dual-match fashion, play began with doubles.

In a dominating performance on court 2 for State was the duo of George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin. Not allowing a single game, the MSU tandem ousted Texas Tech's Raphael Pfister and Francisco Zambon 8-0.

However, the Red Raiders would battle back as the duo of Raony Carvahlo and Rafael Garcia upended State's 20th-ranked pair of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp 8-4 in the top spot.

The doubles clincher came from No. 3 where James Chaudry and Ethan Wilkinson battled TTU's Gonzalo Escobar and Vitar Manzini. Up 7-4 at one point, Texas Tech battled back to 7-6 but the Dogs were able to break for the match as they earned the 8-6 victory and the doubles point for MSU.

Keeping the momentum in singles action, the Bulldogs took first sets on all six courts against the Red Raiders.

Taking the quick match on court 5 for State was 42nd-ranked Coupland. With a 6-1 mark in the first, Coupland breezed through his Texas Tech foe, Pfister, posting a 6-1, 6-2 decision and giving MSU the 2-0 lead.

Shortly thereafter, MSU's 71st-ranked Ilyushin earned his second-straight victory over a top 35 opponent in No. 33 Escobar. Taking a 6-2, 6-1 decision in the top spot, Ilyushin extended the Bulldog lead to 3-0.

Clinching the match for MSU for the second-straight time on the weekend, sophomore Zach White took a 6-2, 6-4 decision from Texas Tech's Gabriel Wanderley on court 6, giving Mississippi State the 4-0 triumph over the Red Raiders.

At that point, all remaining play was suspended. Chaudry had a 6-3, 5-4 advantage on court 2 while the 109th-ranked Stropp was at 7-5, 1-2 in the No. 3 position. No. 83 Cant held a 6-2, 4-2 advantage in the fourth spot.

Mississippi State opens SEC play this upcoming weekend as they play host to No. 49 Alabama on Friday, March 2 at 2 p.m. CT and 14th-ranked Auburn at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 4.

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