After opening the SEC slate on the road last weekend, the Mississippi State women's tennis team returned to the Pitts Tennis Centre for their conference home opener Friday, falling 7-0 to No. 11 Georgia.
With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 8-5 on the season and 0-3 in SEC play. The loss is also Mississippi State's first home loss of the year. Georgia improves to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in SEC play.
Despite a big top 5 upset win for State at the top position in doubles, Georgia would hold off State to claim the opening point of the afternoon with two tiebreak wins.
MSU's Roseline Dion and Timea Guibe would drop the first doubles match 8-3 on court 2 to Georgia's Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia. However, the Bulldogs would respond with a major upset, as the doubles tandem of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran defeated the No. 2 nationally ranked UGA duo of Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase, 8-7(9) at No. 1. Another tiebreaker on court 3 would settle the doubles point, as Petra Ferancova and Georgiana Patrasc fell 8-7(1) to Georgia's pair of Caroline Brinson and Lilly Kimbell.
Singles action began with a setback for State on court 3, as Dion fell 6-2, 6-0 to the 22nd-ranked Kowase. MSU's Tran was the next to fall, dropping a 6-4, 6-0 decision on court 5. Georgia would then clinch the match with a 6-1, 6-2 victory on No. 6 over Rosalinda Calderon.
Two of the final three matches would go to third set tiebreakers and and first-set breaker on court 1 was also forced. On No. 4, State's Guibe forced a tiebreaker after claiming the second set, but fell in a close 3-6, 6-3, 1-0(6) decision to UGA's Fuller. Court 1 was the next to finish, where State's 93rd-ranked Patrasc dropped a tight first-set tiebreaker and then the match 7-6(4), 6-1 to Georgia's 10th-ranked Herring.
The final match to finish was on court 2, where MSU's Perper also dropped a nail biter, falling 7-6(5), 2-5, 1-0(8) to 12th-ranked Garcia.
"I'm very pleased with how our girls performed today," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "We competed well and had some great matches with a very good Georgia team. Our doubles was a big highlight, with Sasha and Naomi playing great in their upset over the number two doubles team in the country. The final score looked lopsided, but we were only a few tiebreakers from a 4-3 match."
The Bulldogs will now host No. 42 Tennessee (4-6 overall, 0-2 SEC) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Live stats will be available on hailstate.com.
Hitting the road for the first time this season in Southeastern Conference play, the 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-5, 2-1) fell 4-1 to the 16th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-5, 2-0) in a tightly-contested match Friday afternoon.
The Maroon and White got off to a hot start, coming out firing on all cylinders to take the doubles point from the home-standing Bulldogs of UGA, using victories on courts one and two to take the early lead. State's top duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp picked up their biggest win of the spring to date, downing UGA's No. 14 tandem of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland in convincing fashion 8-3. Georgia leveled the playing field with an 8-6 win on court 3, as its team of Eric Diaz and Austin Smith defeated MSU's Rishab Agarwal and Zach White 8-6.
The doubles point then came down to court two, where the MSU duo of Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid, and the UGA team of Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha, battled in a tiebreaker for the early lead. Lakat and Schmid proved to be victorious, taking the match 8-7(4), giving State the 1-0 lead heading into singles.
UGA would fire back heavily to start singles, taking the first set on all six courts. Georgia tied up the match with a 6-4, 6-4 victory from No. 76 Brasseaux against MSU's Angus on court four. Shortly after, UGA pushed their lead to 3-1 with a 6-3, 7-5 victory on court two from No. 16 Smith against MSU's 63rd-ranked Lakat and a 6-3, 6-4 win on court six from Pieters against State's Robin Haden.
Despite being in a hole early, the Maroon and White-clad Bulldogs did not back down, pushing two of the last three matches to third sets and forcing a tiebreaker on court three in the second set. That tiebreaker proved to be the deciding factor, as the MSU senior White fell to UGA's 66th-ranked Wagland 7-5, 7-6(4) on No. 3 to clinch the match.
Play on courts one and five were suspended at the clinch, with State's Agarwal leading 100th-ranked Nick Wood by a break, 1-6, 7-5, 3-2 at the five spot and the 71st-ranked Stropp down 6-3, 3-6, 5-4 in the third, but on serve against UGA's No. 30 Pasha.
The Bulldogs will return to action Sunday, March 9, as they continue their SEC road trip in Knoxville, Tenn., against the 13th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The match is set for a 12 p.m. CT start.
A two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning by Kentucky's Ansley Smith lifted the No. 8 Wildcats to a 4-0 victory against Mississippi State on Friday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
UK's Ginny Carroll also helped the offense with a single and solo home run as Kelsey Nunley became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Bulldogs since Florida's Hannah Rogers on April 5, 2013.
Mississippi State senior Alison Owen (8-3) took the loss and tossed all seven innings, surrendering four runs on six hits and did not walk a batter. Her 10 strikeouts gave her sole possession of third on the Mississippi State career chart with 351, despite just one-and-a-third seasons with the program. Nunley (6-1) threw the complete game, striking out six, walking four and hitting one batter.
MSU (19-3, 0-1 SEC) had the game's first base runner as junior Julia Echols drew a one-out walk on the ninth pitch of her at-bat in the opening inning. A foul out and fielder's choice left her stranded on first.
The Bulldogs had the contest's second runner as senior Heidi Shape drew a free pass with two down in the third. Nunley ended the frame with a groundout.
Kentucky (17-2, 1-0 SEC) tallied the first hit of the game and took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Carroll singled through the left side. Smith followed with a two-run home run to left. Owen bounced back with a pop out and strikeout.
Again in the bottom of the fourth, Mississippi State had a two-out base runner as senior Sam Lenahan was hit by a pitch, but a whiff ended the threat.
Neither team registered a base runner in the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Kentucky tacked on another run with a two-out solo home run from Carroll.
Mississippi State put its first base runner on second base in the bottom of the sixth as Echols drew her second one-out walk of the game and moved to second on a groundout, but a pop out left her stranded.
Kentucky added its last run in the top of the seventh for the 4-0 final. Griffin Joiner led off with a single to left. She was replaced at first by pinch runner Sarah Frazer, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out single through the left side from Maisie Steed. Sylver Samuel followed with a bunt single and Steed tried to come around and score from second, but was thrown out at the plate to end the frame.
The Bulldogs had another runner on base in the bottom of the seventh, but could not convert. With one out, freshman Mackenzie Toler walked and was replaced at first by classmate Katie Anne Bailey. Bailey was called out for leaving early and a strikeout ended the contest.
The teams continue the series Saturday with 1 p.m. CT contest.
Track and Field
After a winning performance at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, Mississippi State's junior Erica Bougard picked up this year's SEC Women's Field Athlete of the Year award, the league announced on Friday.
Bougard won the SEC pentathlon title with a nation-leading score of 4,458, becoming the first MSU athlete to win the event at SEC Indoors. Not only does her score rank her No. 1 in the nation, but her performance marked the ninth-best score in collegiate history. Bougard improved the MSU record (previously 4,399) set by the Byhalia, Miss., native during her championship performance at last year's NCAA Indoors.
"This is awesome and such an honor," Bougard said. "This goes to show that hard work really does pay off."
The junior also ranks sixth nationally in the women's long jump with a leap of 20-11.25.
With the award, Bougard also claimed First-Team All-SEC honors, along with senior Rochelle Farquharson, who recently won the SEC long jump title.
Farquharson posted a personal-best 21-00.75 at the conference championships to land her a spot in third on the MSU all-time indoor list.
Also collecting honors, Ocian Archer, Katie Huston and Rhianwedd Price were selected to the All-SEC Second Team. The trio, plus Bougard, comprised the MSU women's distance medley team that broke an 11-year-old school record at the Tyson Invitational in February. The group clocked an 11:15.34 in the event.
"I am truly blessed to finish my indoor season off so well," Archer said. "It was my first time running an indoor season doing the 800-meter run, and I knew that doing the 800 in the distance medley relay was going to build my strength. I am very honored to be a part of a great team, a great relay, and most importantly, I'm honored to be a Bulldog."
As a freshman, Price has made an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. In addition to her role on the distance relay, she also ranks No. 30 in the country in the women's one mile (4:39.37). That speed places her second on the school's all-time indoor performance list.
"What a great group of women to receive recognition," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "These athletes always give it their all at practice and in competitions. Their dedication is certainly being rewarded, and I'm really proud of them."