News from MSU Media Relations--February 16

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Chelsea Bramlett went 4-for-8 with three RBI, and Sammie Jo Bailey and Hayle Guess each homered as the Mississippi State softball team swept Wright State 4-0 and Southern Illinois 7-3 on the opening day of the Bulldog Round-Robin on the MSU campus.

The Bulldogs improve to 8-0 on the season, marking the second-best start in school history. Wright State dropped to 0-2 overall, while the Salukis suffered their first defeat on the year to fall to 6-1.

Kelsey Nurnberg moved to 4-0 as she picked up the win in the nightcap. The Ankeny, Iowa, native tossed six and a third innings and allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out one. Elizabeth Woolven allowed a hit and struck out one over the final two-thirds.

While the pitching remained solid, the MSU offense jumped on top early and never looked back, getting a first inning, two-run home run from Sammie Jo Bailey, her first of the season. State expanded the cushion to 3-0 in the fourth as Guess blasted a two-out, solo shot over the fence in left field.

"We played great today. Misty Flesher gave us another outstanding effort, and Kelsey (Nurnberg) pitched really well again before running out of gas. Elizabeth (Woolven) came in and shut a good team down," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "I thought we started to hit better in the second game. We hit some good shots that were outs, and Courtney Bures started to hit like we want her to. We had good execution today. It was an exciting day, and we want to keep it going tomorrow."

Bramlett gave State what would prove to be the winning run in the fifth as she delivered a two-out single to left center that scored Brittany Bell, who pinch-ran for Jessie Bailey after she led off the inning with a single.

MSU picked up three additional runs in the sixth. Sammie Jo Bailey's base hit plated Courtney Bures after she led off the inning with a double. With two away in the inning, Jessie Bailey lined a base hit to drive in Jessie Spain, who pinch-ran for Sammie Jo Bailey.

Despite getting two sixth-inning runs and another in the seventh from her offense, Danielle Glosson suffered the loss for SIU in her first decision of the year. She surrendered the seven runs on 11 MSU hits with five strikeouts.

In the opener, Bramlett went 3-for-4 with two RBI as MState claimed a 4-0 win over Wright State.

Misty Flesher moved to 3-0 on the year as she allowed three hits and struck out four. Flesher has pitched the last 15 innings without allowing a run, while MSU pitching has held the opposition scoreless for 13 consecutive innings.

After leaving a runner stranded in the first, State broke through with a trio of runs in the second. Sammie Jo Bailey led off the inning with a double to right center. With two outs, Lindsay Hunley walked and Nakita Boyce, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, tripled to score Hunley and pinch-runner Brittany Bell for a 2-0 lead.

Bramlett extended the MState lead to 3-0 with her second straight hit, a single up the middle that scored Boyce from third.

The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the seventh as Boyce hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on Bramlett's third hit of the game.

MSU returns to action Saturday, taking on Fordham at 2 p.m. and Wright State at 4 p.m.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 21st-ranked Mississippi State softball team welcomes Southern Illinois, Wright State and Fordham to the MSU campus this weekend for the 2008 Bulldog Round-Robin.

The tournament begins Friday at 10 a.m. and runs through Sunday. MState will face 2007 NCAA Tournament teams Wright State at 2 p.m. and Southern Illinois at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will face Fordham and Wright State on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, before closing out the weekend's action against SIU Sunday at Noon. Admission to all of the games is free of charge.

MSU jumped out to 6-0 on the season, matching the third-best start in program history, with Wednesday's 10-0 win over Mississippi Valley State in the team's home opener. Chelsea Bramlett continued to spark MSU offensively, going 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored. Bramlett leads head coach Jay Miller's teams in nearly every offensive category, including average (.684), hits (13-for-19), runs (nine), RBIs (seven) and stolen bases (4-for-4). She sits in a tie for the team home run lead as her and senior Courtney Bures have each hit one round-tripper on the season.

Kelsey Nurnberg picked up the win in Wednesday's game to run her record to 4-0 with one save. The junior from Ankeny, Iowa, has allowed just a single run, none earned, over 24 and two-thirds innings this season. She pitched 21 and wo-thirds scoreless innings to start the season before allowing the international tie-break runner to score in the ninth inning of the Bulldogs' win over California.

Two freshmen have been impressive in the early going for MSU. Vestavia Hills, Ala., native Ali Bainbridge is off to a fantastic start to her rookie season, hitting a team second-best .375 with three RBI and two runs scored. Lone Grove, Okla., native Misty Flesher has put up a 2-0 mark on the season, and she picked up her first collegiate save in last Sunday's win over California at the Cathedral City Kickoff. Flesher has allowed just two runs and seven hits with a team-high 15 strikeouts in 11 and one-third innings.

Southern Illinois is receiving votes in both softball top 25 polls. The Salukis are off to a 5-0 start to the 2008 campaign, claiming a pair of wins over Minnesota along with victories over UNC-Greensboro, Coastal Carolina and Jacksonville at the Jacksonville University Invitational. Katie Wilson is hitting a team-best .700 (7-for-10) with five runs scored and four RBI. Alicia Garza has produced a team-high six RBI while hitting at a .389 clip with a home run and four runs.

Nikki Waters and Katie McNamara have both gotten off to undefeated starts in the circle for SIU. Waters has put together a 2-0 mark and 0.63 earned-run average, while McNamara has compiled a 1.42 ERA en route to a 3-0 start. Both pitchers have recorded 14 strikeouts on the year.

WSU and Fordham both kick off their 2008 seasons this weekend. The Raiders were picked third in the preseason Horizon League poll after finishing 2007 with four straight wins to claim the league tournament title and earn an NCAA Regional berth. Wright State returns nine starters from last season, with seven of those having earned league postseason accolades a year ago.

Fordham returns its top two hitters and leading pitcher from last season's 39-20 squad. Allison Twarowski enters her senior season after a junior campaign in which she led the squad in average (.393), home runs (seven) and runs (58). Melissa Andrews returns after a .379 2007 campaign in which she tied for the team lead with 43 RBI while hitting four home runs. Nicole Ayres claimed 17 wins and a save, and compiled a 2.12 ERA as a freshman, striking out 137 on the year.

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The SEC West-leading Bulldogs of Mississippi State (16-7, 7-2) look to lengthen their divisional lead by playing host to the second-place Arkansas Razorbacks (17-6, 6-3) Saturday afternoon on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for Saturday's battle of the Southeastern Conference's Western Division front-runners is set for 3 p.m. CT at MSU's Humphrey Coliseum.

The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN with Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes slated to provide the play-by-play and color analysis, respectively. The 45th all-time series renewal between the Dogs and Hogs can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio Channels 231 and 200.

Winners of 11 of their last 13 contests, coach Rick Stansbury's 16-7 Bulldogs enter the weekend with a one-game lead over Arkansas atop the SEC West standings. Looking to reach double figures in home wins for the 10th consecutive season under Stansbury's guidance, MState is 9-3 this year in the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum, including a 4-1 SEC home mark. Most recently, MSU claimed a convincing 83-64 road win over the Auburn Tigers last Saturday on the Plains.

The Bulldogs are ranked among the SEC's top three teams in eight statistical categories for conference games only, including league-leading marks in scoring defense (62.2 ppg), field-goal percentage (.472), field-goal percentage defense (.344) and blocked shots (9.44 bpg). Individually, MState is fueled by the veteran all-star tandem of junior Jamont Gordon and senior Charles Rhodes. Coming off back-to-back, double-double efforts, Gordon ranks fifth in the league in both scoring (18.1 ppg) and assists (4.70 apg). With three double-doubles in his last four outings and playing in his 100th career game Saturday against Arkansas, Rhodes stands 17th among the SEC's top scorers (14.9 ppg), seventh in rebounding (7.7 rpg), and sixth in both field-goal percentage (.555) and blocks (1.55 bpg).

Guided by first-year head coach and former Kentucky standout John Pelphrey, the Razorbacks had a four-game winning streak snapped this past Wednesday by dropping a 93-71 decision at fourth-ranked Tennessee. Ranked among the league's top three team leaders in five defensive categories for all games, Arkansas is led in scoring by senior forward Sonny Weems at 15.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Patrick Beverley averages 11.9 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds an outing. The tandem has also combined for 78 made 3-pointers, 118 assists and 63 steals between them on the season. Senior forward/center Darian Townes averages 11.0 points and 4.9 boards off the bench, while Jackson, Miss., native Charles Thomas adds 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

The Bulldogs are bidding to snap a three-game series losing skid to Arkansas on Saturday, having most recently dropped a 78-58 road decision to the Razorbacks late last month in Fayetteville. With a 14-5 all-time series advantage over Arkansas in games played in Starkville through the years, MState currently owns a seven-game home winning streak over the Hogs dating back to the 2000-01 campaign. A year ago (Feb. 14, 2007) on the MSU campus, the Bulldogs posted an 84-60 triumph over Arkansas at Humphrey Coliseum.

Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Looking for their fourth win in six conference home games on the year, the Mississippi State women's basketball team (15-10, 3-7 Southeastern Conference) plays host to Georgia (18-7, 5-5 SEC) on Sunday afternoon as part of alumni weekend. Tipoff between the Lady Bulldogs and UGA is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum.

Mississippi State is looking to improve on an 12-3 record at home this year. The Lady Bulldogs have won three out of five against SEC foes, besting Florida, 83-71 in their previous game at Humphrey Coliseum.

MSU's last victory over Georgia came during the 2003 season in a 76-71 ballgame. UGA took last year's meeting between the two schools, 74-61, in Starkville.

The meeting between Mississippi State and UGA features MSU Head Coach Sharon Fanning and Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers, who are among two of the longest tenured coaches in the Southeastern Conference. Fanning has coached for 34 years, while Landers is not far behind with 33 years of coaching experience. Fanning is looking to improve on a 6-10 record against Landers while at Mississippi State.

As the leading offensive rebounding team in the SEC, Mississippi State enters the game coming off an up and down week. The Lady Bulldogs defeated a tough Florida team, 83-71, last Sunday before losing at Mississippi on Thursday night. MSU is led by sophomores Alexis Rack and Tysheka Grimes. Rack leads the team with 12 points per game, while Grimes is the leading rebounder with 6.5 boards per contest. Junior guard Marneshia Richard has also played solid basketball for Mississippi State, leading the team with 4.9 assists and two steals a ballgame.

State will be without the services of sophomore Bethany Washington indefinitely after an ankle injury in the game against Mississippi Thursday night.

Georgia enters the matchup with State winning two out of their last three after dropping three straight contests on the season. Looking to improve on their 5-5 conference road record, UGA is led by senior forward Tasha Humphrey. Humphrey leads the Lady Bulldogs, averaging 17.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest.

Following the matchup with Georgia, Mississippi State travels to South Carolina on Thursday, Feb. 21. Tipoff between the Lady Bulldogs and Gamecocks is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.

Track & Field
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State junior Marrissa Harris ran a school-best 8.55 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles to highlight MState's opening-day competition at the Tyson Invitational. The event continues tomorrow and is being held at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Facility on the campus of the University of Arkansas.

Harris tops former Lady Bulldog LaTonya Hill's mark of 8.57 seconds set at the 1998 SEC Indoor Championships in Baton Rouge, La. In addition to Harris, two other Lady Bulldogs set personal-best marks in the event. Sophomores Bridgette Rose and LaQuinta Aaron ran 8.67 and 8.68, respectively to enter the all-time list in the event.

Sophomore Wendy Copeland leaped 19 feet, eight and one-quarter inches to finish fifth overall in the long jump. Copeland was the top SEC finisher in the event. Rose joined junior Priscilla Gaines in the 60-meter dash with both Lady Bulldogs garnering personal-best times.

MState resumes action at the Tyson Invitational Saturday morning at 10 a.m. CT with the high jump and 3000-meter run.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog track team travels to Fayetteville, Ark. to compete in the Tyson Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16, at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center on the University of Arkansas campus.

MSU begins their portion of the two-day event with the long jump at 10 a.m. CST Friday. Competition will continue through Saturday evening. The indoor facility will serve as host to the 2008 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships and 2008 NCAA Championships in March.

State is returning to action after taking a weekend off following the Rod McCravy Memorial Invitational in Lexington, Ky. Sophomore Wendy Copeland posted a personal-best jump of 19 feet, 10 ¾ inches in the long jump to take the meet title. In the 3000-meter run, freshman Sarah Hammes ran a time of 10 minutes, 19.46 seconds while freshman Lydia Chebii crossed the line at 10:52.13. Junior Gabrielle Dillion posted a 7.62 time to advance to the finals of the 60-meter dash. In the finals, Dillion ran a 7.67. In the 800-meter run, freshman Diamond Marks ran a time of 2:16.91 to finish 13th collegiately.

Earlier in the week, sophomore LaQuinta Aaron bested 10 other competitors and tallied 3,444 points to become the LSU Pentathlon champion. Aaron finished first in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.80. With her time, the Tuscaloosa, Ala-native becomes the newest member of the all-time list in the 60-meter hurdles. Junior Dorothy Youmans finished in fifth. Aaron came in second-place in the shot put with personal-record 36-05 ¾.

Aaron posted a first-place finish in the long jump with her leap of 18-07 ¼. After trailing Juzil Rudolph of Troy by 157 points heading into the final event of the evening, Aaron clinched the title with a third-place finish in the 800 meters.

Other Southeastern Conference teams competing in this weekend's meet are Alabama, host-Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Live results from this weekend's meet will be available at

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University Head Track and Field Coach Al Schmidt has announced the signing of Crystal Wilson and Melony McKay of Kingston, Jamaica, to a national letter-of-intent. Wilson and McKay will begin their Lady Bulldog careers during the 2008-09 season.

Wilson comes to MSU from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. While under the direction of Coaches Chris Beene and Blaine Wiley, Wilson achieved NJCAA All-American status as a freshman in 2006 during both the indoor and outdoor campaigns.

The transfer holds the SPC outdoor record in the 4x400 relay (3:44.69) and holds the SPC indoor record in the 4x400 meter relay (3:51.62). Wilson also placed second in the 4x400 relay at the 2007 NJCAA Outdoor Championships while adding 2007 NJCAA Outdoor All-American status to her resume. Wilson posted a time of 56.06 in the 400-meter dash at the NJCAA Division I Track and Field Championship.

"Crystal is one of three NJCAA athletes that are bringing in All-American credentials with them," said Schmidt. "Being an All-American in track and field is something athletes earn by performing at the National Championships on the track, no voting. Crystal has great talent at 400 meters. She will be leading us with a worth ethic and talent worthy of the SEC."

Coming out of The Queen's School in Jamaica, Wilson was the fourth fastest junior under 19 in the 400-meter dash under the helm of Lloyd Clark. She also had personal-best times of 25.0 in the 200-meter dash and 53.9 in the 400-meter dash.

"When I visited, I saw Mississippi State had a good facility," said Wilson. "I liked the academics department, as well. I also knew Coach Bryan (Fetzer) as a coach before I came to the US. It seems like it will be fun coming to MSU both track and academic wise."

Wilson is the daughter of Winston Mullings and Marieen Cunningham. She plans to major in early childhood education upon her arrival on the MSU campus in the fall.

"Coming from the rich track and field tradition of Jamaica, they bring an understanding of how to be successful," said Fetzer. "Both have been blessed with being associated with excellent coaches in both high school and junior college. They're going to be fun to coach."

McKay led Essex College (NJ) to a junior college indoor championship in 2007 under Mike Smart. McKay garnered NJCAA All-American honors in indoor and outdoor competition as a freshman in the 60m, 400m and 4x400m relay.

McKay ran a personal-best 54.85 in the 400-meter dash en route to a win at the 2007 New York Relays.

"Melony joins her Jamaican teammate Crystal Wilson," said Schmidt. "They are both great 400 meter runners in the open 400 and relays. Melony is not only an All-American, but she has been part of a national championship team. These JC athletes are the best we have ever recruited from the junior college ranks. They will give us experience and will help lead a talented group of freshmen."

The Kingston, Jamaica-native was a member of Jamaica's 4x400-meter relay that set a Carifta Games Under 17 record with a time of 3:43.65.

"It was great to finally sign the papers to come to Mississippi State," said McKay. "I am so happy that I did it and will have the opportunity to come to Mississippi State. Knowing that I am going to be coached by Bryan (Fetzer), I feel Mississippi State is the best place for me athletically and academically. I look forward to competing at Mississippi State because they are in one of the top conferences in the nation."

McKay is the daughter of Veronica Taylor. McKay plans on majoring in risk management and insurance planning in the fall.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University Associate Head Track and Field Coach Steve Dudley has announced the signing of Darryl Jenkins of Country Club Hills, Ill., to a national letter-of-intent. Jenkins will begin competing for MState during the 2008-09 season.

Jenkins comes to MSU from Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. Jenkins garnered All-American status in 2007 under the direction of Coach Brent McLain. He also won a national championship with the 4x400-meter relay team, helping the squad to a fourth-place finish overall at the 2007 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Outdoor Track and Field Championship.

This season thus far, Jenkins ran a time of 7.05 seconds in the 60-meter dash at the EIU meet. He has also posted a 22.08 in the 200-meter dash at the Indiana Relays earlier this month.

"I am very proud to announce the signing of a very high caliber sprinter in Darryl Jenkins," said Dudley. "He has already won an individual national championship in the 200 meters and hopefully can do the same in a Bulldog uniform."

Jenkins posted career numbers during the 2007 Indoor season, running a 6.98 in the 60-meter dash and 22.61 in the 200 at the EIU Mega Meet. Jenkins also has career marks in the 100-meter dash with a 10.73 and in the 400-meter dash with a 52.95.

"Mississippi State was the best place for me as far as focus and Coach Dudley getting me to the next level," said Jenkins. "It was a nice experience visiting Mississippi State, as well. I liked the atmosphere at Mississippi State. I liked the team and it was the best place me."

Jenkins is the son of Audrey Van Hook. When coming to the MSU campus in the fall, Jenkins plans on majoring in physical education.

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