News from MSU Media Relations--March 4

The lastest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...

Men's Golf
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's men's golf team returns to the state of Florida for its second straight tournament to start the 2007 spring season. The Bulldogs will participate in the Seminole Intercollegiate in Tallahassee, Fla., beginning on Sunday, March 4, at the Golden Eagle Country Club course.

State opened the spring session at the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate, played in the Orlando, Fla. area in mid February. This year's appearance in the Florida State University-hosted event marks the 23rd time that State has participated in the event. In 2006, head coach Clay Homan's squad finished fifth.

The 54-hole tournament that will be played over a three-day span features 11 teams that are ranked in the top-50 according to Golfweek.com. MSU will be joined by conference foes Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

"This is definitely a strong field this week," said Clay Homan. "We played very well here last year. It is a course that our guys enjoy playing. I thought we played our best tournament here a year ago."

MState's line up feature an all-sophomore look - Noah Goldman, Carlos Sainz, Jr. Brian Mason, Logan Young and Matt Fast. Goldman, a Floridian, and Mason led the team at the spring opener with both placing in the top 10 in the individual standings. Fast will make his spring season debut this week.

The opening round of the event will begin at 8 a.m. at the par 72, 6,965-yard Golden Eagle CC. Live stats will be provided at www.golfstat.com.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team will close out its current two-match homestand Sunday, hosting 13th-ranked Florida at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on the MSU campus. Match time between the Bulldogs and Gators is set for 1 p.m.

MSU enters Sunday's matchup with a 3-4 mark this season. The Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking 4-3 loss Friday against South Carolina to open Southeastern Conference play. Junior Ivan Bjelica, ranked 38th nationally, won his third straight match on Friday and improved his season's record to 16-9. Also victorious on Friday was Philippe Frayssinoux and Ryan Farlow. Frayssinoux moved to 16-8 on the season while Farlow upped his dual match record to 4-1.

Led by former Mississippi State head coach Andy Jackson, the Gators enter Sunday's match with a 4-3 record this season. Jackson, who spent 13 seasons at the helm of the MSU men's program, is in his sixth season with Florida and has a record at UF of 106-37. Florida is coming off a 5-2 loss to #6 Mississippi on Friday in Oxford. UF is led by junior Greg Ouellette and freshman Jesse Levine. Ouellete is 15-6 this season and is currently ranked 19th while Levine is 5-0 in his young career and is ranked 45th nationally.

Sunday's meeting will be the 40th between the two programs with Florida holding a 25-14 advantage, including a current win streak of five. In Starkville, the Gators hold a 10-6 series lead.


Softball
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - For the second straight day, Mississippi State split a pair of games at the UTC Frost Classic. MSU started the day rallying to defeat UT-Martin, 6-5, in nine innings. But, UT-Chattanooga turned the tables in the nightcap, run-ruling the Bulldogs, 11-3, in five.

In the opening game, MSU came back from three runs down to tie the game in the seventh, and then won the game with two runs in the ninth to defeat UT-Martin, 6-5.

In the ninth inning, Jessie Bailey was placed on second due to the international tie-breaker, and was sacrificed to third by Hayle Guess. Sara Hickerson was hit by a pitch. Chelsea Bramlett then hit a ground ball to shortstop Greer Long, but Long was not able to make a play, and MSU took its first lead since the first inning. Nakita Boyce then singled to put the Bulldogs up by two.

In the bottom of the inning, Ashley Benbow was placed on second and scored on Long's ground out. Fallon Lowery then singled, and Hickerson went 3-0 on Brittany Nash when she was replaced by Kelli Miller. Miller gave up the walk, but got Stacy Weaver to pop out, completing the comeback.

MSU (12-7) got on the board early. With one out, Nakita Boyce walked and was sacrificed over to second. Katie Cooley followed with a single to right, driving home Boyce and giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

However, UT-Martin plated four in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs and Brittany Nash on third, Savannah Roberts singled, tying the game. Megan Williams tripled, giving the Skyhawks the lead, and Ashley Benbow singled. Megan Van Arsdale then hit a grounder to second baseman Katie Johnson that seemed to get the Bulldogs out of the inning. But, Johnson mishandled the ball, then threw it away, allowing Benbow to score, and UTM had a 4-1 lead after one.

State cut the deficit to one in the third. Chelsea Bramlett singled and stole second. One out later, Courtney Bures singled, scoring Bramlett. Cooley then brought home Bures when her ground ball got past Laura Roberts.

In the seventh inning, MSU was down its final at-bat when Bramlett doubled to right center. Nakita Boyce then hit a ground ball to Laura Roberts that she mishandled, allowing Boyce to reach base and Bramlett to come around and tie the game. Bures was then hit by a pitch, putting two runners on. But Katie Cooley flied out to short, and the game went into extra innings.

Hickerson (1-2) earned her first victory of the season, striking out six in 5 2/3 innings. Miller picked up her first save of the season.

In the nightcap, State scored in the opening frame for the fourth consecutive game. With two outs, Courtney Bures walked. She then stole second, but Lynleigh Hurndon's throw sailed into center field, allowing Bures to advance to third. Katie Cooley followed with a walk, and immediately got caught in a rundown. Bures then took off for home, and beat the throw for the game's first run.

The next inning, Hayle Guess led off hitting a high fly ball to left field. But the wind took hold of it, and the ball dropped in front of the center fielder for a leadoff double. Blair Hewett then dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but Toni Hutchison's threw the ball away, allowing Guess to score. One out later, Nakita Boyce tripled, driving home Hewett and handing MSU a 3-0 lead.

After cruising through the first three innings, MSU starter Kelsey Nurnberg ran into trouble in the fourth. With one out, Tia Blosser singled. Alyssa Edwards then hit the second pitch over the right center fence, cutting the deficit to 3-2. Two batters later, Brittany Eason doubled down the left field line, tying the game. After Hutchison reached on Bures' fielding error, Hurndon gave UTC the lead with a two-run double, knocking Nurnberg out of the game in the process.

Sara Hickerson came on in relief, but the Moccasins didn't let up. Jeannie Cochran singled, Ashley Cuticchia cleared the bases with a triple, and Blosser singled, giving Chattanooga an 8-3 lead after four.

The Moccasins ended the game in the fifth. With Jessie Bailey in relief of Hickerson, Tembley walked and Eason reached on Gina McCloud's fielding error. Hutchison loaded the bases, and pinch-hitter Lacey Upchurch doubled to left center, scoring Tembley and Eason, and giving UTC the victory.

Mississippi State closes out the tournament tomorrow when it faces Austin Peay at 10:15 a.m.


Track & Field
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Mississippi State's 4x400-meter relay squad did not waste time qualifying for the 2007 NCAA Mideast Regional, as the foursome posted a regional qualifying mark of three minutes, 7.84 seconds at the Florida State Snowbird Invitational.

The relay squad consisted of seniors Bruce Davis, Chris Woods, Arthur Davis and Ezra Jones - all of which are returning all-Americans for the Bulldogs. Last season the squad finished seventh at the NCAA Championships last June.

"Having the 4x400 relay team qualify for regionals was worth the trip," said MSU head coach Al Schmidt. "We had a very productive opening weekend."

State sophomore John Bailey placed sixth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.83 – a new personal best for the Terry, Miss.-product. B. Davis established a new career mark with a time of 21.91 in the 200-meter dash. In the 400-meter dash, MState's Woods turned in a time of 48.34 to finish third.

The Maroon and White had four newcomers to the squad that were competing in their first Division I Intercollegiate meet. Golden Coachman and Delandus O-Neal, both transfers from Wallace State Community College fared well in the opening meet. Coachman turned in a time 48.55 in the 400-meter dash, while O'Neal carded a time of 50.14. Red shirt freshman Tyson Bonner placed seventh in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:01.00. Demetrius Cobbins finished fifth in the 110-meter hurdles.

In the throws and jumps, senior Jerald Wilson registered a jump of 46 feet, 11 inches in the triple jump to place second. Sophomore Kiley Aguar posted a career-mark in the hammer throw at 150 feet. Daniel Zabaldano, who won the discus event on Friday, finished second in the javelin with a mark of 169 feet.

State's next action will be at the Georgia Relays on March 16-17 in Athens, Ga.


Women's Tennis
Gainesville, Fla. - In accordance with Intercollegiate Tennis Association rules, Mississippi State's women's tennis team has forfeited Sunday's scheduled match at No. 3-ranked Florida due to illnesses that have sidelined four Lady Bulldogs. The match was set for 1:00 p.m. CT at UF's Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

ITA rules state that "the minimum number of players for a dual-match meet is four physically able players" and that "a team that does not meet this minimum must forfeit the match."

The Lady Bulldogs will be back in action at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre this Friday, March 9, versus Auburn and Sunday, March 11, against Alabama. The match against the Tigers is set for 2 p.m. CT while the contest versus the Crimson Tide is slated for 1 p.m. CT.


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