News from MSU Media Relations--February 12

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Baseball, Softball, Men's Golf, Men's Tennis and Track & Field.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Tickets for the 11th annual "First Pitch/Meet the Team" baseball celebration Feb. 28 at Mississippi State go on sale Tuesday at the MSU Athletic Ticket Office in the Bryan Athletic Administration Building. Former MSU pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, who helped pitch the Boston Red Sox to the 2007 World Series championship, will be the featured speaker for the event.

Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased over the counter at the ticket office. Telephone orders for tickets charged to a credit card are also being accepted (662-325-2600). The office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The event is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. with a dinner buffet in the Bryce Griffis Boardroom. MSU players will be available for autographs in the Palmeiro Center prior to the start of the program. MSU skipper Ron Polk, set to embark on his 29th season as head coach at Mississippi State, will formally introduce the players and staff of the 2008 MSU baseball team.

Mississippi State, which opens its 2008 baseball season Feb. 22-24 in Jacksonville, Fla., with a three-game series at North Florida, is ranked as high as 19th in the preseason college baseball polls.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Former Mississippi State University pitching standout Jonathan Papelbon, who helped pitch the Boston Red Sox to the championship of the 2007 World Series, will be the featured speaker at the 11th annual "First Pitch/Meet the Team" baseball celebration Thursday, February 28 on the MSU campus.

Tickets for the event are $30 each and go on sale Tuesday through the MSU Athletic Ticket Office (662-325-2600) in the Bryan Athletic Administration Building. For the third consecutive year "The First Pitch" will be held in the spacious Palmeiro Center adjacent to Dudy Noble Field. This year's celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. with a buffet dinner in the Bryce Griffis Boardroom.

Papelbon, from Jacksonville, Fla., pitched at Mississippi State from 2001 to 2003, registering nine wins, 13 saves and a 2.90 earned run average in 61 relief appearances. He led the MSU bullpen in saves both his sophomore and junior seasons before concluding his MSU career with 13 saves, seventh-most in school history.

He was drafted in the fourth round by Boston in the 2003 Major League draft and made a rapid ascent through the Red Sox system. He made his debut in Major League Baseball in July 2005. Papelbon recorded his first career save on the second day of the 2006 season and went on to register one of the most dominant seasons ever for a rookie reliever, tallying 35 saves (a Red Sox rookie season record) with an 0.92 ERA while holding opponents to a miniscule .167 batting average. For his efforts, he was named to the 2006 American League All-Star team and finished second in the balloting for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Papelbon's resume grew considerably in 2007 when he finished the season with 37 saves, becoming the youngest Boston hurler on record to post back-to-back 30-save seasons. For the second consecutive year he was named to the American League All-Star team and was honored as the 2007 recipient of the "DHL Presents the Major League Delivery Man of the Year Award". The hard-throwing righty was deadly in postseason competition. He did not allow a run in his seven postseason outings and converted all four of his save opportunities. The last two of those saves came against Colorado in the World Series, including a series-clinching Game 4 performance against the Rockies.

Following the buffet meal and prior to the start of this year's "First Pitch" program, members of the 2008 MSU baseball team will be on hand for an autograph session in the adjoining Palmeiro Center. In addition to the presentation by Papelbon, "The First Pitch" also includes a formal introduction of the 2008 Mississippi State Baseball Bulldogs.

Papelbon, who makes his off-season home in Hattiesburg, Miss., with his wife, Ashley, joins an impressive array of previous guest speakers for MSU's "First pitch" event. That group includes MSU standouts Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, David "Boo" Ferriss", Alex Grammas, Burke Masters, Jay Powell, Nat Showalter, Bobby Thigpen and Dan Van Cleve, best-selling author and MSU alumnus John Grisham and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.

Mississippi State launches its 118th season of baseball Feb. 22-24 with a three-game series in Jacksonville, Fla., against the University of North Florida.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State sophomore catcher Chelsea Bramlett has been named the season's inaugural Southeastern Conference Softball Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 10, the conference announced Monday.

The honor is the third weekly league honor for Bramlett in her two-year career. She twice earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors during the 2007 campaign.

Bramlett hit .647 (11-for-17), including her first career grand slam, to lead the Bulldogs to a 5-0 opening weekend at the Cathedral City Kickoff in Cathedral City, Calif. The Cordova, Tenn., native accounted for 13 of MSU's 27 runs during the season-opening tournament, driving in six runs and scoring seven more. The 2007 Louisville Slugger/NFCA First Team All-American crossed the plate with MSU's game-winning run in three of the five games.

"This honor is a tribute to the great weekend Chelsea had for us," Bulldog head coach Jay Miller said. "She did a great job scoring runs, advancing runners and getting on base. She really jump-started our offense all weekend. It's nice to see her receive this honor becauseshe is very deserving."

Bramlett opened the season with a 3-for-4, one run performance in the Bulldogs' upset of No. 20 Oregon. She followed that outing by going 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored against Cal State Northridge.

She kept swinging a hot bat on Saturday, putting up the final four runs, a career best, in an 8-0 win over UC Riverside with a towering grand slam to right field. In Saturday's nightcap against San Diego State, an 8-0 MSU win, Bramlett tied her career high for hits with a perfect 4-for-4 game. She scored in the sixth inning to break a scoreless tie with the Aztecs and spark an eight-run MState outburst. She clinched the decisive inning with a two-RBI single that advanced the game-ending run, which scored on a wild pitch, to third base.

The Bulldogs open the 2008 home slate Wednesday, taking on Mississippi Valley Sate in a game slated for a 3 p.m. first pitch. Admission to all MSU home softball games is free of charge.

Men's Golf
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Mississippi State men's golf team began the fall season with a third place finish at the SunTrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. MSU ended the fall with back-to-back runner-up finishes, making this their third-straight top-three finish for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs ended the first round with a 288 and in a tie for 10th place and followed with a 5-under-par 275 in the second round improving to sixth place on Saturday. On Sunday, Mstate notched a 1-under-par 279 to close out the three-round event, finishing in third place among the 14-team field, which included nine teams ranked in the top 50 in Golfstat (determines postseason play).

"I am very satisfied with how we performed in the Invitational against a very tough field," said Head Coach Clay Homan. "We were able to beat three top 25 teams (Duke, Wake Forest and Mississippi) and get a good start to our spring season."

MSU was led by the junior duo of Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Noah Goldman who both finished in a tie for 12th at 1-under-par through three rounds. It was the third time this year Goldman had claimed MSU's top spot and the first time for Sainz, Jr. Sainz, Jr. shot a 4-over-par in the first round and rebounded in round two with a 66, which ties several other individuals as the second lowest one-round score for the weekend. The Elgin, Ill. native closed the weekend out with a 1-under-par performance in round three, including an impressive 4-under-par back nine which included MSU's only eagle in the invitational on hole 14. Goldman fired two rounds of 71 mixed with a 3-under-par 67 for the weekend. Senior Josh Oller also had a top 20 finish, as the Brandon, Miss. native tied for 19th individually after a 1-over-par 211 in three rounds of play. Oller also led the team with 10 birdies, four of which came from his 1-under-par second round. Senior Jake Lambert was competing in his first tournament of the year for MState, finishing fourth for the team after a 7-over-par performance that included a 3-under-par 67 in the final round of play which tied the low score for the day. Junior Josh Bevell notched a 227 in three rounds of play, as Bevell joins Sainz, Jr. as the only Bulldog golfer to compete in all six of the tournament thus far on the year.

"We were able to get solid and consistent play from most of our guys with a few key performances standing out," said Homan. "Jake's (Lambert) third round performance gave us a boost along with Carlos's (Sainz, Jr.) back-nine in round three. Noah (Goldman) and Josh Oller were consistent throughout the whole weekend."

Host-school Florida won the invitational with a 20-under-par showing, while Florida State finished second after an 8-under-par performance. UAB finished two strokes shy of MState with a 4-over-par 844 through three rounds, followed by South Alabama who shot 11-over 851. Duke, Wake Forest and LSU tied for sixth at 13-over-par with Coastal Carolina trailing by three strokes at 9th. Georgia Southern finished 10th at 21-over-par followed by in-state rival Mississippi who shot 22-over-par. North Florida, South Florida and Georgia State rounded out the field.

MSU will return to competition next Monday, February 18, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas at the Roadrunner Intercollegiate.

Men's Tennis
ATLANTA, Ga. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team dropped a tight 4-3 decision to Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon at the Bill Moore Tennis Center on the Georgia Tech campus. The match featured two doubles contests that were decided in tiebreakers and four singles matches that were decided in three sets. State fell to 1-2 this season with the loss while Georgia Tech improved to 5-0.

The doubles point was very closely contested to open the match. The first match completed was on court #3 where Georgia Tech's George Gvelesiani and David North topped State's Ryan Farlow and Artem Kuznetsov 8-2. The Bulldogs evened it up when Bulldogs Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux moved past Scott Blackmon and Ryan Smith 9-8 in a tiebreaker on court #1. In the decisive match on court #2, Georgia Tech's pair of Guillermo Gomez and Eliot Potvin edged out MSU's duo of Pjotrs Necajevs and Tanner Stump 9-8 in a tiebreaker to claim the opening point.

The Jackets took a 2-0 lead when Smith eased past Bulldog Kuznetsov 6-2, 6-0 on court #4. The gap was narrowed to 2-1 when State freshman Antonio Lastre claimed his first career dual-match win with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Georgia Tech's Potvin on court #5.

Georgia Tech took a 3-1 lead as Miguel Muguruza edged out MSU freshman Maximilien Genuini 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on court #6. However, the Bulldogs would quickly even the match at 3-3 when Farlow rallied to down Georgia Tech's Blackmon 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 on court #3 followed by an MSU win on court #1 where State's Bjelica outlasted 82nd-ranked Gomez 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

With the score tied, the decision would come down to court #2 where 14th-ranked Bulldog Frayssinoux was in a battle with Georgia Tech's North. After North claimed the first set 7-5, Frayssinoux rallied to tie the match, winning the second set 6-2. North grabbed the break in the third set and held off Frayssinoux to claim the set 6-4 and clinch the win for the Jackets.

With the loss, State is now tied 2-2 with Georgia Tech in the all-time series. With wins in singles, Bjelica moved to 6-1 this season while Farlow improved to 12-8.

State will return to action Wednesday, Feb. 13 when they return home to the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre to host Louisiana-Lafayette. Match time is set for 1 p.m. CT.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University Associate Head Track and Field Coach Steve Dudley has announced the signing of Woodrow Randall of Marietta, Ga., to a national letter-of-intent. Randall will begin his Bulldog career during the 2008-09 season.

Randall is the second Marietta High athlete to join the team this season (Trey Charles). Randall collected both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash titles at the 2007 Georgia State Championships. Randall clocked times of 10.68 seconds and 21.93 in the events, respectively. He also ran the third leg behind Charles of the Georgia state champion 400-meter relay team while running the final leg of the 1600-meter relay team in 2007. Their full squad went on to notch runner-up for the state championship.

"Woodrow is a talented short sprinter, showed by being a state 100-meter champion in the state of Georgia," said Dudley. "We are very fortunate to have Woodrow decide to be a Bulldog and help get our short relay back at a top level."

The senior is currently ranked third in the nation in the 100-meter dash with a personal-record 10.56 garnered at the DeKalb International Prep Classic. Randall also ranks in the top 25 nationally for his 21.53, a personal record, clocked at the Marietta Invite in 2007.

"I am coming to Mississippi State because of the coaching I will be under and the environment that I will be in," said Randall. "An additional reason is because my teammate and friend Trey Charles will be there with me."

Off the track, Randall is involved in Youth at Marietta High. Randall is the son of Woodrow Randall, Sr. and Bridget Francis. In the fall, Randall plans to major in accounting.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State Associate Head Track and Field Coach Steve Dudley has announced the signing of Josh Tucker of Tupelo, Miss., to a national letter-of-intent. Tucker will begin competition for MState during the 2008-09 season.

Tucker jumped a personal-best six feet, eight inches to capture the individual title in the high jump at the Mississippi State 5A Track Championship, while helping the Tupelo Golden Wave win the 2007 team title at the event.

"Josh is a two-sport athlete at Tupelo High School that will do the high jump for us here at Mississippi State," said Dudley. "We believe he will blossom into a top notch high jumper with year round training. He is also a very accomplished student."

Tucker jumped 6-04 at the Mobile Challenge of Champions in en route to capturing that individual title. The senior also jumped 6-04, taking fourth place at last year's Mississippi State Bulldog High School Invitational, where his team finished second place.

"I am real excited that I got to the chance to compete at a Division I school, especially Mississippi State," said Tucker. "They have a great chemical engineering program. I am really excited about getting the chance to train under the jumps coach, Coach (Bryan) Fetzer."

Outside of track, Tucker is involved in National Honor Society, football, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta and Habitat for Humanity. He is the son of Bruce and Leslie Tucker. When arriving on campus next fall, Tucker plans to major in chemical engineering.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State Head Track and Field Coach Al Schmidt has announced the signing of Dominique Lockhart of Greenbelt, Md., to a national letter-of-intent. Lockhart will begin competing for MSU during the 2008-09 season.

Lockhart ran a personal-best five minutes, one second in the 1600-meter run at the 2005 Morgan State High School Invitational. Lockhart also ran a personal-best 11:17.17 in the 3200-meter run to capture the individual state championship crown. Lockhart has led her team to back-to-back team titles during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 season.

During her sophomore year, Lockhart ran a 2:13 lead leg in the 4x800 relay that was third at the Penn Relays, clocking the third fastest time in event history for an American team.

"Dominique Lockhart comes from one of the most successful girls' track and field programs in the country," said Schmidt. "The combination of her talent, her high school program and the coaches that she has worked under gives our program one of the brightest prospects Mississippi State University has signed in the middle distance/distance events."

She finished fourth at the 2007 Maryland 4A Cross Country meet, crossing the line at 19:28 to help her team to a second place finish. Lockhart ran a personal-best 2:16.84 in the 800-meter run at the 2005 Prince George County Championship, taking the individual title, and also leading her team to the team title. The senior also placed second at the 2007 Invitational 8 Presented by Nike, running a personal-best 18:23.32 in the 5000-meter run.

Lockhart is a member of the Washington Post All-Met First Team. While receiving 2007 Cross Country Runner of the Year honors from the newspaper, her coach, Desmond Dunham, received Coach of the Year.

"I am happy to be signing with Mississippi State University," said Lockhart. "I am looking forward to spending the next four years there."

Extracurricularly, Lockhart is a member of the Academy of Finance. She is the daughter of Tracie Glee. When arriving on the MState campus next fall, Lockhart plans to major in architecture.

Starkville, Miss. - Mississippi State Head Track and Field Coach Al Schmidt has announced the signing of Renee Masterson of Beech Grove, Ind., to a national letter-of-intent. Masterson will begin competing for the Lady Bulldogs during the 2008-09 season.

Masterson finished in the top 20 in the 2007 Foot Locker Midwest Regional Championships, running a personal-best 18:36.00. At the 2007 Franklin Central Semi-State Meet, Masterson placed in the top 10, with a time of 18:51.00. The senior also finished in the top 20 at the 2007 Mid-East Regional Championships, clocking a time of 18:55.00.

"Renee Masterson is a key signing for us because she is not only a great distance running prospect; she is an individual who has the character that only team leaders possess," said Schmidt. "She belongs in the SEC and we are fortunate that she will be at Mississippi State."

A two-sport athlete, Masterson is also an accomplished swimmer. She is the Beech Grove High School record holder in the 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, 200 yard freestyle relay and 400 yard freestyle relay.

"Mississippi State has presented me with both the best academic opportunities, as well as a very knowledge coaching staff and program," said Masterson. "I am very pleased to be attending Mississippi State University in the fall."

Off the track, Masterson is heavily involved in other school activities. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Spanish Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Science Olympiad, School Community Council and Mayor Youth Council.

Masterson is the daughter of Mike and Amy Masterson. When arriving on campus next fall, Masterson plans to major in international business and marketing with a minor in Spanish.

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