News from MSU Media Relations--March 12

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

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (5-6, 1-3 SEC) claimed its first Southeastern Conference win of the season on Sunday, taking a 5-2 match at home against Alabama (5-6, 1-3 SEC).

State took the early lead after doubles' victories at the No. 2 and 3 positions. At No. 3, MSU's tandem of Renee Joseph and Daniela Juskova dominated their Crimson Tide duo of Bianca Svensson and Alice Tunaru 8-2. Bama evened things up with a win at the top position, where MSU's Martina Banikova and Valeriya Makarycheva dropped an 8-4 decision to UA's Andrea Brenes and Mari Muller. Clinching the point for State at No. 2, the Lady Bulldog duo Elna de Villiers and DeAndra Saddler came back from a slow start to claim their match 8-5 against Alabama's Nicole Briceno and Shelley Godwin.

Alabama later evened the match 1-1 with a singles victory at No. 3 as UA's Briceno bested State's Juskova 6-3, 6-0. State answered at No. 5 with Saddler's dominant 6-0, 6-1 victory over Bama's Svensson to take the MSU advantage back to 2-1. MSU added another victory on court #2 to take a 3-1 lead. There, de Villiers won in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 over Alabama's Shelley Godwin. UA then added its final point of the day to make it 3-2 with a victory at court #6. On that court, State's Makarycheva fell 6-3, 6-2 to Bama's Brenes.

On the deciding court at No. 1, State's Banikova took a 6-2 first set over Bama's Muller and later fought out a 7-6(3) tiebreaker in the second set to clinch the team victory for State. In the last match of the day, Lady Bulldog Joseph rallied back from a 6-4 first set loss to dominate her Crimson Tide opponent 6-1, 6-2 in the final two sets.

"It was a great day and great effort shown from the girls," said MSU Head Coach Tracy Lane. "We knew we could win and we went out a found a way to win. Max [Fomine] and I are extremely proud of the girls today. We have been moving in the right direction, but today was the best way to show that."

The Lady Bulldogs' next action will be in two weeks as they travel to Kentucky on March 23 and to Vanderbilt on March 25. The match against the Wildcats is slated for 2 p.m. CT and versus the Lady Commodores at Noon. The Lady Bulldogs will be at back home March 30 as they host Arkansas at 2 p.m. CT on the Friday of Super Bulldog Weekend.

Men's Tennis
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Much like their nailbiting loss to South Carolina to open Southeastern Conference play last weekend, the Mississippi State men's tennis team dropped a 4-3 heartbreaking decision to 28th-ranked Alabama Sunday at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. Once again, the Bulldogs had multiple team match points but could not close in on the victory.

State dropped to 3-7 on the year and 0-4 in conference play. Alabama moved to 10-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference, which includes an upset win Friday over No. 8 Mississippi in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide got on the board first Sunday, winning the doubles point. The first match completed came on court #3 where UA's Javier Bes and Billy Mertz downed State's Ryan Farlow and Pjotrs Necajevs 8-2. The second match complete, which clinched the doubles point for the Tide, saw Alabama's Joseph Jung and Saketh Myneni defeat State's Edouard Benchetrit and Philippe Frayssinoux 8-3. In the last match complete in doubles, MSU's tandem of Ivan Bjelica and Artem Kuznetsov upset UA's 27th-ranked Dan Buikema and Matthieu Thibaudeau 8-5.

It was evident when singles began that it would be a battle to decide the winner. Mississippi State evened the score at 1-1 when MSU's Frayssinoux downed UA's Struyf 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2. Bama's Mertz gave the Tide a 2-1 victory when he topped State's Necajevs 6-3, 6-3 on court #3.

State then gained momentum by winning the next two points. MSU tied the score at 2-2 after MSU's 42-ranked Bjelica downed UA's 84th-ranked Jung 6-4, 6-2 on court #1. State took a 3-2 lead when the sophomore Farlow outlasted UA's Buikema 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on court #6.

State looked to be in control of the match with two courts still in play. On court #4, State freshman Kuznetsov won the first set 6-2, but fell in the second 7-5 to Bes of Alabama. In the deciding third set, Kuznetsov rallied from an early break down and took a 5-2 lead in the deciding set. Serving at 40-0, Kuznetsov would lose the next five points and the next five games, as Bes took the match with a 7-5 third-set win and evened the team score at 3-3.

The deciding match came on court #5, where three tiebreakers would decide the day's final outcome. After UA's Thibaudeau won the first set 7-6, MSU freshman Benchetrit rallied to claim a 7-6 second set win. In the third set, Thibadeau gained a 5-3 advantage with the first service break of the day for either player only to see Benchetrit return the favor and ultimately force a third-set breaker. In the tiebreaker, Benchetrit won the opening point but dropped the next seven as Thibaudeau clinched the win and the victory for the Tide.

State will continue action next week as they travel to the state of Nevada for a pair of matches. On Wednesday, State will take on Nevada in Reno at 3 p.m. CT before a match at UNLV Saturday at Noon CT.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Mississippi State (15-10, 0-2) opened the conference portion of its schedule, dropping both ends of a doubleheader to No. 3 Alabama (23-0, 0-2). MSU fell 10-2 in five innings in the opener, and then lost 5-2 in the nightcap.

State jumped out in front in the first inning. With one out and Nakita Boyce on first, Courtney Bures singled, and Katie Cooley walked to load the bases. After Alabama pitcher Chrissy Owens got Sammie Jo Bailey to pop up, Jessie Bailey sent a hopper over Kelly Montalvo's head, scoring Boyce and Bures. But, Cooley, after rounding second, got thrown out trying to get back to the bag, and the inning ended with MSU holding a 2-0 lead.

In the third inning, Alabama took advantage of two Bulldog errors to tie the game. Montalvo led off the inning with an infield single that Bures threw into MSU's dugout, allowing Montalvo to take second. Brittany Rogers then singled and stole second, putting runners in scoring position with no outs. Blair Hewett then tried to pick off Montalvo at third, but her throw got by Jessie Bailey, allowing Montalvo to score and Rogers to take third. Lauren Parker then tied the game on a sacrifice fly.

The Crimson Tide took the lead in the fourth. With two outs and Charlotte Morgan on second, Rogers singled and stole second. Jordan Praytor then singled, driving in two and giving UA the 4-2 lead. Sara Hickerson took the loss for MSU, falling to 2-3.

MSU started the second game by again getting on the board first. With one out in the second inning, Jessie Bailey reached when shortstop Kellie Eubanks couldn't handle her ground ball. Two batters later, Sammie Jo Bailey sent a 2-2 pitch over the straight away center field wall, and the Bulldogs held a 2-0 lead.

But, once again, the lead wouldn't last long. Rogers singled to short and stole second. Praytor cut the deficit to one with a single to right field. Lauren Parker reached when Bures committed her second error of the game. After a Dani Woods sacrifice, Mandy Burford and Kellie Eubanks both reached on a fielder's choice, giving the Tide the lead. One out later, Holcombe and Montalvo followed with singles, and Bama held a 5-2 lead.

State rallied in the sixth inning. With one out, Chelsea Bramlett walked and Nakita Boyce beat out a sacrifice bunt. Hayle Guess singled up the middle, scoring Bramlett. Boyce and Guess then pulled off a double steal. But, Bures popped up to second, and Boyce was called out for leaving third early, and the rally was over.

Kelli Miller took the loss for the Bulldogs, going allowing five runs in three innings.

The teams will close out the series tomorrow with a single game at 1:30 p.m. (CT).

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - No. 3 Alabama (24-0, 3-0) got a home run early and never looked back, as Mississippi State (15-11, 0-3) fell to the Crimson Tide for the ninth straight time, 8-0, in six innings.

MSU had a golden opportunity to jump ahead in the first inning. Chelsea Bramlett singled and stole second. Nakita Boyce then extended her hitting streak to a career-high 13 games, knocking a single down the left field line. Bramlett rounded third attempting to score, but Jordan Praytor's throw home arrived in plenty of time to get Bramlett. Two batters later, with Boyce and Katie Cooley on the corners, Boyce raced home on a wild pitch, but Katie Johnson's throw home beat Boyce to the plate, ending the inning.

Alabama opened the scoring the in the second. Mandy Buford led off with a double, and Dani Woods' sacrifice fly advanced pinch runner Mallory Benak to third. After Kellie Eubanks walked, Charlotte Morgan hit a shot over the center field wall, and the Tide held a 3-0 lead.

UA extended its lead in the fourth. Dani Woods led off with a single, and Eubanks was hit by a pitch. After Morgan sacrificed them over, Katie Johnson singled, loading the bases. Alex Blewitt then plated two runs with a pinch-hit single. Brittany Rogers then loaded the bases on Jessie Bailey's fielding error. One out later, Lauren Parker drove home two with a single to center, making it a 7-0 game.

Alabama scored a run in the sixth ending the game.

Kelli Miller (6-5) went an inning and a third for the loss. Chrissy Owens (12-0) struck out five in the win.

Mississippi State will continue its road swing on Tuesday, when it faces Kentucky in a 3:00 p.m. (CT) doubleheader in Lexington.

Women's Golf
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Junior Julia Huh and senior Amanda Mathis both fired a 154 in the first two rounds of the Suntrust Lady Gator Invitational on Saturday, leading State in the first of two days of action at the University Golf Club in Gainesville, Fla. As a team, the Lady Bulldogs stand in 15th heading into Sunday's final round.

After opening the day with a 308 in the first round, State struggled in the second round later in the day, shooting a 320. While Huh and Mathis are tied for 44th in the individual standings, freshman Gina Sharp is four strokes back in a tie for 60th. Sophomore Leigh Phillips fired a 164 on the first day while freshman Suzanne Stanley finished with a 167.

Host Florida shot a 585 as a team on Saturday and lead the field by three strokes. In the individual race, Florida's Sandra Gal is 1-under par and leads by two strokes.

Sunday's third round will get under way at 8 a.m. CT with a shotgun start.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Mississippi State women's golf team concluded play at the Suntrust Lady Gator Invitational on Sunday, shooting a 319 and finished in 13th place. The Lady Bulldogs ended the tournament with a 947 for the three-round event and moved up two spots from Saturday.

Senior Amanda Mathis shot a 78 on Sunday and finished the tournament with a 232 and finished a team best tied for 40th. Junior Julia Huh shot an 80 on Sunday and fished with a 234 and a tie for 48th. Freshman Gina Sharp finished one stroke back with a 235 and finished tied for 50th. Freshman Leigh Phillips finished the tournament with a 249 while freshman Suzanne Stanley ended with a three-round score of 251.

Host Florida held on to win the team title, shooting a 291 on the final day, ending the tournament with an 876. UF's Sandra Gal held on to her second round lead and finished even-par to take the individual title.

State will be back in tournament play this weekend, (March 16-18) traveling to Baton Rouge, La. to compete in the LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic.

Men's Golf
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's men's golf team will participate in the Carter Plantation Intercollegiate beginning on Monday, March 12 in Springfield , La. at the par-72 course at Carter Plantation.

The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back tournaments in the state of Florida to open the spring session. The squad finished 11th and 12th respectively at the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate and the Seminole Intercollegiate that wrapped up this past Tuesday. MSU sophomore Noah Goldman placed in the top-10 in both events to lead the State line up.

Joining Goldman in the line up for the 54-hole, two-day event will be sophomores Carlos Sainz, Jr., Matt Fast and Brian Mason. Making his first start since of the spring will be senior Greg Huxman. Fast leads the team in scoring with a 72.20 average. Sainz, Jr. enters the event on the heels of a top-10 finish in Tallahassee, Fla. this past week.

MState is making its second-straight appearance in the Southeastern Louisiana-hosted event. Last season, the Maroon and White claimed runner up honors behind the Lions of SELU. Three Bulldogs in the line up this week played in the event in 2006 - Fast, Goldman and Sainz, Jr. All three finished in the top-25 in the individual standings.

Carter Plantation was the first golf course designed by PGA Tour professional and Louisiana-native David Toms. The 18-hole layout is a member of the Audubon Golf Trail and was recently named by Golf Magazine as a top-10 place to play.

Following Tuesday's final round, State will break in conjunction with the university's spring break this week and will convene back on March 19 to prep for the University of South Alabama Spring Classic in Mobile, Ala. on March 26.

Gene's Page Top Stories