BATON ROUGE, La. - Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis squad dropped their fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference match Sunday, falling to No. 40 LSU 7-0 at the W.T. "Dub" Robinson Tennis Stadium on the LSU campus.
LSU (10-7, 2-5 SEC) took an early 1-0 lead, clinching the doubles point. First off the court, at No. 3, was MSU's 55th-ranked team of Renee Joseph and Daniela Juskova, who dropped only their second match of the season in an 8-3 loss to LSU's duo of Nicole Kantor and Staten Spencer. LSU then got the first point of the day with an 8-5 win by Megan Falcon and Mykala Hedberg, who bested State's Martina Banikova and Valeriya Makarycheva at the top position. In the last doubles match, State's tandem of Elna de Villiers and DeAndra Saddler fell 8-6 to give LSU the doubles sweep.
The Tigers struck first in singles with a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1, where LSU's second-ranked Falcon defeated State's Martina Banikova. LSU expanded the lead to 3-0 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory by Kantor over MSU's Juskova at the No. 3 position. LSU then clinched the match at No. 5 with a 6-2, 6-4 victory by Spencer over Lady Bulldog Saddler.
LSU completed the sweep with wins in the final three matches on the court. MSU's de Villiers was a 6-1, 6-2 victim of LSU's Hedberg on court #2. State freshman Makarycheva also went down in straight sets, falling to LSU's Dubova 6-2, 6-3. In the last match on the day, MSU's Joseph fell 7-6(7), 6-1 to Robinson.
The Lady Bulldogs (5-10, 1-7 SEC) will be back in action at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on Easter weekend, hosting Georgia on Friday, April 6, at 1 p.m. CT and Tennessee on Sunday, April 8, also in a 1 p.m. CT start.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Katie Cooley's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning capped a four run rally to give Mississippi State (24-15, 7-7) an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over South Carolina (25-13, 3-8). The win completed State's first home conference series sweep since April 16-17, 2005 against Arkansas.
Chelsea Bramlett led off the eighth with a single, and Nakita Boyce was hit by a pitch. After Hayle Guess sacrificed them to second, South Carolina intentionally walked Courtney Bures to set up a force play. But, Cooley hit a 1-2 pitch to left field, bringing Bramlett home with the winning run.
The rally began in the seventh inning. USC scored twice in the top half of the inning to make it a 7-3 game. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Nakita Boyce reached first when Ashton Payne bobbled her ground ball. Guess and Bures followed with singles, the latter scoring Boyce. Cooley then doubled them home to make it 7-6. Sammie Jo Bailey tied the game with a single, and Jessie Bailey knocked Kate Pouliot out of the game with a single.
"It seemed like whoever had the last at bat was going to win," said MSU head coach Jay Miller. "Obviously, we played real sloppy, in the second inning especially. We made some foolish plays to give them extra chances and extra opportunities, but I thought we did a nice job of fighting back."
Melissa Hendon, who started the game, came in, and after walking Katie Johnson to load the bases, got Blair Hewett to line into a double play, sending the game into extra innings.
Miller retired the Gamecocks in order in the first, and MSU jumped on top in the bottom half. Bramlett and Boyce singled and stole third and second, respectively. After Bramlett was thrown out at the plate on Hayle Guess' force out, Courtney Bures knocked in Boyce with the game's first run. Katie Cooley then singled to make it 2-0. Sammie Jo Bailey reached on a force out to put runners at the corners, but Jessie Bailey struck out to end the inning.
But, South Carolina brought the bats out in the second. Jessica Josker led off with a double down the left field line. One out later, Adele Voigt singled, putting runners at the corners. Lisa Longo cut the lead to 2-1 on a fielder's choice. After a groundout and a Jaqueline Wetherbee walk to load the bases, Ashton Payne singled to left, but the ball slipped under Boyce's glove, clearing the bases and allowing Wetherbee to reach third. Becky Martinez followed with a single of her own, scoring Wetherbee and giving USC a 5-2 lead through an inning and a half.
The Gamecocks threatened again in the third. Josker's ground ball went through the legs of Bures, allowing her to reach base. Lindsay Walker singled, placing runners at first and third with no out. But, Voigt struck out and Longo flied to center. Walker then took off for second. Blair Hewett threw down to second, and Josker took off for home. Bramlett threw to Jessie Bailey, who got the ball to Bures for the out, ending the inning.
MSU made it 5-3 in the fifth on Hayle Guess' one out, RBI single.
The Gamecocks extended its lead to 7-3 in the seventh. With one out, McKenna Hughes doubled. Josker then doubled home pinch-runner Cagney Davis. Sara Hickerson came in relief of Kelsey Nurnberg, and immediately got Adele Voigt to ground to short. But, Bures' attempt to force Walker at second sailed into right field, and Josker came home, setting up MSU's rally.
"The top of seventh, when they scored two, that's a time when you can just pack it in and get ready for Ole Miss, but we didn't," added Miller. "We kept battling, we kept fighting, and we came out in the bottom of the seventh and started ripping the ball. It was a good team effort all-around, and a real big win."
Chelsea Bramlett was 4-5 with two runs, and also set a Bulldog record with four stolen bases in the game. Katie Cooley went 2-4 with a run and three RBI. Kelli Miller, after throwing the first two innings, returned in the eighth to retire the final two batters and improve to 10-6 on the year.
State will travel to Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday to face Samford in a non-conference game at 6:00 p.m. before returning to conference play this weekend against Ole Miss.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team dropped a 6-1 decision to #13 LSU Sunday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on the MSU campus. State (6-10, 3-5), fell in a closely contested doubles point and followed by dropping some close singles matches en route to the loss.
LSU (13-4, 5-3) got on the scoreboard first, winning two of three doubles matches. The fifth-ranked LSU tandem of Danny Bryan and Colt Gaston gave the Tigers their first victory, as they closed out MSU's Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux 8-2 on court #1. State's freshman duo of Artem Kuznetsov and Pjotrs Necajevs hung close with 14th-ranked Ken Skupski and James Cluskey, but ultimately dropped an 8-5 decision which gave LSU the 1-0 lead. In the last doubles match completed, Bulldogs Ryan Farlow and Chris Doerr outlasted LSU's Kevin Dessauer and Jan Zelezny 8-6 on court #3.
Singles play, which was very tight early on, gradually started to shift in favor of the Tigers. LSU won the first set on four of the six singles courts and grabbed the momentum on their way to the victory. LSU took a 2-0 advantage as 44th-ranked Bryan downed MSU rookie Kuznetsov 6-1, 6-1 on court #3. State's Eric Lim fell 6-1, 6-0 to Zelezny on court #6, which gave LSU a 3-0 lead. Several moments later, LSU grabbed their fourth and clinching point as Tiger Gaston outlasted MSU's Farlow 7-5, 6-4 on court #3. LSU extended their lead to 5-0 when Cluskey dropped MSU freshman Doerr in a third-set supertiebreaker 6-4, 4-6, 1-0(5). Another supertiebreaker win on court #4 by 111th-ranked Tiger Dessauer gave LSU a 6-0 advantage, as he rallied to top State freshman Edouard Benchetrit 3-6, 6-3, 1-0(8). The Bulldog's lone point of the match came on court #1 where junior Frayssinoux, who took over for an injured Bjelica, upset LSU's 24th-ranked Skupski 7-5, 6-4.
"I was proud of our guys for battling today," said MSU head coach Sylvain Guichard. "In the circumstances that we were in today without one of our best players, I thought we showed some character and our young guys really stepped up. We played well in doubles and gave it all we had."
With the loss on Sunday, State fell to 4-3 at home this season. Frayssinoux notched his 20th win of the season with his win and moved to 5-3 in the SEC. MSU's Farlow and Doerr had three-match win streaks snapped.
The Bulldog's next action will come on the road next weekend as they travel to face top-ranked Georgia on Friday, followed by a matchup with #22 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday.