BATON ROUGE, La. - Mississippi State launches its 30-game, 10-weekend SEC baseball schedule this weekend in Baton Rouge and faces its first ranked opponent of the 2012 campaign when the Bulldogs (14-5) take on No. 10 LSU (14-3) in a three-game series at Alex Box Stadium.
Friday's 7 p.m. series-opener will be televised regionally by New Orleans-based Cox Sports Television. The Saturday MSU-LSU game will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast with game time set for 6 p.m. There is no live television for Sunday's 1 p.m. series finale.
The Bulldogs are expected to start either senior relief ace Caleb Reed (0-2, 1.15, 5 saves) or junior right-hander Chris Stratton (4-0, 2.57) in Friday's opener opposite LSU sophomore Kevin Gausman (4-0, 1.32). Junior lefty Nick Routt (1-1, 3.31) and junior Kendall Graveman (1-0, 2.82) are MSU's projected starters for Saturday and Sunday.
State has won eight of its last 11 games and has matched last season's 14-5 start, the best since the Bulldogs reeled off 18 straight to open the 2006 season.
With four regulars injured and out of the starting lineup, clutch hitting has eluded the Bulldogs in the first two games of their five-game road run to Louisiana. MSU out-hit Southeastern Louisiana 21-15 in the series. But in 4-3 and 5-1 losses to the Lions, State stranded 21 base-runners and managed but two hits in 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position. SELU turned a baseball rarity, a triple play, in Tuesday night's closely-contested 4-3 game, helping contribute to State's third one-run loss of the year.
Freshman outfielder Tyler Fullerton (.625), who shed his redshirt status and drew starts in both midweek games, has bolted to the top of the Bulldog hitting charts. His 5-for-8 showing in his first two games includes a 4-for-4, two-double plate performance Wednesday night. Redshirt freshman outfielder Demarcus Henderson (.405) extended his hitting streak to a team season-best 10 games while another Bulldog rookie, infielder Phillip Casey (.250), collected two of MSU's four RBI in his second and third career games played/started.
Subscription-based audio streaming of all three games this weekend will be available through HailStateTV at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive. Additionally, a video stream of the Friday and Sunday games will be also available to current HSTV subscribers (made possible by stream share from LSU). Saturday's game will not be available on video due to television (CSS-TV).
MSU opens the weekend having turned a league-best 26 double plays while Bulldog pitching has registered 176 strikeouts, just two off the league-leading pace for strikeouts by Kentucky.
Baton Rouge, La. - Having won its most consecutive true road games since 2001, the 17-9 Mississippi State softball team (3-4 SEC) will take on LSU (16-8, 1-1 SEC) at Tiger Park this weekend for a three-game SEC West showdown. First pitch is Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Free audio streaming of all three games this weekend will be available through HailStateTV at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive. A video stream of Saturday's game will be available to current HSTV subscribers (made possible by stream share from LSU). Friday and Sunday's games will not be available on video.
"The SEC is an extremely competitive softball conference," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "That is what makes playing softball in the SEC great – you have to bring it every single day. LSU will no doubt bring its best to the ballfield. The Bulldogs must be ready to bite."
If the Bulldogs are to have success against LSU hurlers Rachele Fico (7-4, 0.56 ERA) and Brittany Mack (7-4, 2.70 ERA), three runs looks to be the magic number. Part of the reason State is off to its best start since 2008 is the fact that it is 17-3 when scoring three-plus runs. However, MSU is a winless 0-6 when it does not put a triplet on the scoreboard.
Starkville's team is fresh off a doubleheader sweep at South Carolina Tuesday, where MSU won by scores of 10-6 and 9-0 (5) in its SEC road opener. State has now won 18 of the last 21 against the Gamecocks, with the run-rule win being the sixth of the season, the most in a single season by State since 2008.
The 9-0 blanking of South Carolina in game two was the first SEC road shutout by the Maroon and White since State blanked USC, 1-0, on April 12, 2008. Offensively, the Bulldogs exploded for three home runs in game two after going homerless in their first six league contests.
Stuedeman has lowered last year's school-record high 4.90 ERA in 56 total games to a much more manageable 2.14 clip After throwing just 12 complete games a year ago in 56 total contests, this year's squad has already thrown 13 through its first 26 games. They're led in the circle by the junior southpaw duo of Stephanie Becker and Kylie Vry. Becker has won a team-high nine games (9-3 and leads the SEC with 32 strikeouts inside league play. Vry is coming off a complete-game two-hit shutout in Columbia, and on the year owns a 5-3 record with a team-low 1.49 ERA.
At the plate, the Maroon and White rank near the top in several SEC categories, including hits (2nd, 210), on-base percentage (3rd, .426), triples (T-1st, 8), and hit by pitches (1st, 27). Redshirt senior Brittany Bell has been a big part of that success, tying for fifth in the country in on-base percentage (.613) and ranking 18th in slugging percentage (.892). The designated player leads the SEC in both categories to go along with pacing the conference in batting average (.462) and hit by pitches (11).
Following the conclusion of MSU's seven-day, five-game road trip, the Bulldogs will return home to the MSU Softball Stadium for a Twitter Tuesday contest against non-conference foe UAB on March 20 at 6:30 p.m. CT. Live audio and video streaming of the game will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
For more information regarding MSU's road trip, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB.
NEW ORLEANS, La. - After pulling out a hard-fought, 4-3 triumph against No. 52 Tulane on Tuesday, Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis hopes to clinch a second victory in New Orleans Friday, meeting the University of New Orleans at 2 p.m. CT.
MSU enters the match at 5-7 overall. UNO is 7-1.
The Lady Bulldogs will be led by Alexandra Perper, ranked 115th in the nation, who posted 6-3, 6-1 victory against Mariam Kurdadze of Tulane in the Tuesday comeback triumph. Also posting victories for MSU in the win were Ekaterina Iakovleva, Petra Ferancova and Roseline Dion, who clinched against the Green Wave.
State is 4-0 all-time against the Privateers.
Following Friday's action, the Lady Bulldogs will return home next Friday, March 23, to host second-ranked Florida.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - For the first time in over a month, the Mississippi State women's golf team takes to the course to face the talent-packed SunTrust Gator Women's Invitational hosted by Florida at the par-70, 6,002-yard Mark Bostick Golf Course.
The 17-team tournament field pits the Lady Bulldogs against six Top 25 teams and 13 Top 50 teams. MSU will face SEC-foes No. 2 Alabama, No. 43 Arkansas, No. 4 Auburn, No. 23 Florida, No. 10 Georgia, No. 40 Kentucky and No. 38 Ole Miss. Other teams include No. 14 Baylor, Chattanooga, No. 11 Duke, No. 34 Florida State, Georgia State, No. 45 Kent State, No. 38 Central Florida, No. 36 South Florida and Wisconsin.
The travel contingent for the Lady Bulldogs includes Ally McDonald, Rica Tse, Mary Langdon Gallagher, Perry Katherine Furr and Elena Warren.
McDonald has wasted no time making a splash on the collegiate golf circuit. She is currently ranked in GolfStat.com's Top 100 players and owns the fifth-best scoring clip among SEC freshmen at 74.27.
Fellow freshman Tse has also held her own notching a team second-best 77.93 average card.
Gallagher is fresh off her second-best event of the season, a 228 in the UCF Challenge.
Furr and Warren round out the Lady Bulldogs lineup with their sixth and fifth tourney appearances, respectively.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com beginning at 7:51 a.m. CST. MSU is slated to tee off at 9:30 along side Chattanooga and South Florida.
Don't forget to stay connected through the Bulldogs' Facebook and Twitter pages at facebook.com/mstateWG and @mstateWG.
LAREDO, Texas - Carrying a streak of seven straight Top 10 finishes, the Mississippi State men's golf team travels to the Par-72, 7,125-yard Laredo Country Club for the Houston-hosted Border Olympics.
This year's squad will look to become only the seventh MSU team to post a Top 10 finish in each of its first eight tournament and the first to do so since 2004-05.
MSU is making its first appearance in the Border Olympics and will face in-state foe Southern Miss. The field also includes No. 31 Baylor, Houston, Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Kansas, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Rice, Southern Miss, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State, UTSA and VCU.
Coach Clay Homan will use the same lineup he used in the Seminole Intercollegiate a week ago.
Sophomore Chad Ramey enters play with the eighth-best scoring clip in the SEC at 72.20. His 60 birdies is the most on the team, while his 67 in the final round of the Seminole Intercollegiate is the lowest round turned in by a Maroon and White player this spring.
Alex Rowland hopes to recapture his form from the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate where he claimed a share of the tournament crown and garnered SEC Player of the Week honors. He is only the fourth Bulldog to ever win the award. His 72.95 scoring clip also places him in the Top 25 along with Ramey.
John Darden will be making his fourth-consecutive appearance and is the only Bulldog to have 100 percent of his rounds counted.
Newcomer Clay Bounds and freshman standout Fletcher Johnson will be making their third and fourth appearances, respectively.
Last year's event was claimed by fellow SEC member, Arkansas with a 32-under-par, while Rice Owl Michael Whitehead claimed individual honors with a 19-under-par 197.
Live stats will be available through hailstate.com beginning at 8 a.m. CST.
Fans can also follow Mississippi State golf on Twitter @mstateMG and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mstateMG.