GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Mississippi State (32-22, 12-12) rallied from behind to take Game One over No. 20 Florida (40-19, 13-11), 4-3, before dropping the nightcap, 2-1 to split a doubleheader at the Florida Softball Field. With the win, MSU clinches a berth in the SEC Tournament.
Courtney Bures' two-run double with one out in the top of the seventh of Game One scored Nakita Boyce and Chelsea Bramlett, and gave Mississippi State a 4-3 victory.
Boyce began the inning by reaching first when Waleszonia couldn't handle Ali Gardiner's throw. Bramlett then reached on an infield single, and stole second and third, putting runners in scoring position with no outs. After Hayle Guess popped out to the pitcher, Bures hit a 0-1 pitch off the center field wall, giving the Bulldogs the lead.
After each team went down in order in the first inning, MSU struck in the second. With one out, Sammie Jo Bailey singled past Lauren Roussell at short, and advanced to second when Kim Waleszonia's throw got past Stacey Nelson on the mound. Katie Johnson then singled, scoring Bailey with the game's first run, and advanced to third on the throw home. Jessie Bailey made it 2-0 with a single to left field. After Blair Hewett stuck out, Nakita Boyce and Chelsea Bramlett were both hit by pitches, loading the bases. But Hayle Guess flied out to right field, ending the inning.
Florida tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. After Kelli Miller struck out Francesca Enea, Melissa Zick singled up the middle, but the ball got past Guess in center, allowing Zick to reach third. Mary Ratliff then hit Miller's 2-0 pitch over the left center field wall, tying the game at two.
The Gators threatened in the third. Kristina Hilberth drew a leadoff walk, and Waleszonia reached on a bunt single. But, Rousell grounded to Jessie Bailey, who stepped on third and threw to first for the double play. Ali Gardiner then grounded to second to end the inning.
In the fourth, Nelson retired the first two Bulldog hitters. Boyce and Bramlett then singled, and advanced to third and second, respectively on Roussell's error. But, Guess struck out, stranding the runners.
Florida took its first lead in the fifth. With one out, Hilberth drew her second walk of the game. Waleszonia followed with a triple over Guess' head in center field, scoring Hilberth. But, as Waleszonia rounded third, she was tagged out. Roussell then singled through the right side, but Gardiner ended the inning grounding to second, and the Gators held a 3-2 lead through five innings.
Sara Hickerson (5-5) went the final 2 1/3 innings for the victory. Sammie Jo Bailey was 2-4 with a run.
In the first inning of Game Two, Bures continued where she left off at the end of Game One. With two outs, the senior hit her second home run of the season over the left field wall for a 1-0 MSU lead.
Kelsey Nurnberg retired the first nine batters of the game. Kim Waleszonia snapped the streak with a leadoff bunt single in the fourth. After Roussell flied out to right, Waleszonia advanced to second on a passed ball. But, she was thrown out at third on Ali Gardiner's fielder's choice. Melissa Zick singled to left field to put runners at first and second with two outs. But, Francesca Enea ended the inning grounding out to short.
Michelle Kinney led off the fifth with a single up the middle. Two batters later, Chelsea Bramlett reached on an infield single, putting two runners on with one out. Hayle Guess then singled to left, but Kinney waited at second to see if the ball would be caught, and was thrown out at third. Bures flied to right, stranding the runners.
Florida grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning. Enea lead off with a double off the left field wall. Lacy Howard then hit the second pitch over the right field wall, giving the Gators the 2-1 lead.
Nurnberg (7-4) took the loss for the Bulldogs, going 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and striking out two.
The teams will return to action tomorrow for the series finale at 12 p.m. (CT).
Track & Field
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Mississippi State 's 4x400-meter relay team turned in the third-best time in the preliminaries of the event at the Penn Relays on Friday afternoon to advance to finals of the event.
The foursome of Bruce Davis, Nathan Daniels, Arthur Davis and Ezra Jones clocked a time of three minutes, 8.39 seconds to finish second in the heat. The eighth-ranked relay team finished behind Southeastern Conference foes South Carolina and LSU. The squad is currently ranked eighth according to trackwire.com.
State's sprint medley relay team placed fourth in the men's college division with a time of 3: 17.93. Florida State claimed medalist honors with a time of 3:14.68. In the Championships of America distance medley relay, State finished tenth with a time of 9: 45.80.
The Maroon and White continue action in the Penn Relays on Saturday.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University Assistant Track and Field Coach Kurt Thomas has announced the signing Antoine Lipscomb of Starkville, Miss. to a national letter-of-intent to compete for the Bulldog Track and Field team beginning in the 2007-08 season.
Lipscomb, a high school all-American at Starkville High School, competes in the 110-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump on the prep level. He won the 2006 5A State Championship in the long jump and claimed runner-up honors in the 110-meter hurdles. Lipscomb recently paced the Yellow Jackets to the Region 1-5A championship. His mark of 23 feet, eight inches ranks Lipscomb as one of the nation's top-20 boys jumpers ranked by DyeStat.com, a national track and field web site. He currently holds the fastest times in the state of Mississippi this season in the 110-meter hurdles (14.0) and the 300-meter hurdles (38.6).
"I am extremely excited about Antoine (Lipscomb) signing with us, and excited about the opportunity to coach him," said MSU assistant coach Kurt Thomas, who oversees the jumps competition. "He is a very talented athlete, who I think has a big up-side potential. He's technically sound already, and has the will and drive to be the best."
Lipscomb has competed in a variety of amateur track events around the country over the past couple of years. He has traveled to Norfolk, Va. for the National AAU Championships and the National Scholastic Championships in New York, NY. At the NSC, SHS finished as one of the top five teams in the nation. This past January, Lipscomb competed in the LSU High School Classic where he finished in the top three in both the 55-meter hurdles and the long jump.
The SHS senior has been under the tutelage of Mitchell Evans, a former MSU Track athlete from 2004-05, and longtime Yellow Jacket head coach Cleveland Hudson.
Lipscomb is the son of Joseph and Rosalind Lipscomb.