STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 18th-ranked Mississippi State softball team heads back to Georgia for the second straight weekend, taking part in the prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic at the South Commons Complex in Columbus, GA.
MSU opens play Friday with N.C. State at 10 a.m. CST and No. 11 Michigan at 12:30 p.m. CST. On Saturday the Bulldogs will face Syracuse at 12:30 p.m. CST and UC Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. CST. Head coach Jay Miller's squad meets UMass Sunday at 11:30 a.m. CST to close out the tournament.
State will be playing in the Leadoff Classic for the second straight season and fourth time overall. MSU has posted a 7-8 mark in the tournament. The Bulldogs made a mark on the tournament record book a year ago, setting the top mark for single-game runs and combined runs in a game with their 23-0 rout of Seton Hall.
MState will be meeting N.C. State for the third time in school history. The two teams split their previous two meetings, which came in the Bulldog Round-Robin during the 2005 campaign. MSU and Syracuse will be meeting for the fourth time, while the Bulldogs will look to even the overall series with UC Santa Barbara in the fourth meeting between the two programs.
State will be facing its second ranked opponent of the season, and highest rated, when it faces the Wolverines on Friday. Michigan holds a 4-1 advantage in the series, with State's lone win coming at the 2002 Leadoff Classic.
The Bulldogs will also be meeting UMass for the second time at the Leadoff Classic. MSU holds a 2-0 series edge over the Minutewomen, with both previous meetings coming in 2000 at South Commons and seven days later in Tampa, Fla.
State enters this weekend's action following a 2-2 weekend at the Mercer Wingate Inn Classic. The Bulldogs put senior Hayle Guess, freshman Ali Bainbridge and junior Sammie Jo Bailey on the all-tournament team.
Guess has hit a home run in her three previous games, becoming the first Bulldog to do so since teammate Courtney Bures in 2005. Bainbridge added her first career home run as she went back-to-back with Guess, who has four on the season, against Mercer, the first time State has accomplished the feat in nearly three seasons.
Sophomore Chelsea Bramlett continues to pace MState at the plate. The Cordova, Tenn., is hitting an SEC second-best .510 and she ranks in the top 10 in the league in on-base percentage (.527), hits (26), total bases (33) and stolen bases (12-for-12).
Junior Kelsey Nurnberg and freshman Misty Flesher continue to anchor the Bulldogs in the circle. Nurnberg moved to 7-1 on the year last weekend and has compiled a 1.63 ERA and struck out 26 over 51 and two-thirds innings. Flesher jumped out to a school freshman-best 4-0 start to the season before dropping her first collegiate decision. The Lone Grove, Okla., native picked up her fifth win last Sunday against Mercer, moving her earned-run average to 1.17 with 29 strikeouts and just four walks over 36 innings.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis team hosts #2 Georgia and #23 Tennessee this weekend at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre to open up Southeastern Conference play. The match with the Georgia Lady Bulldogs is set for 2 p.m CT on Friday, while Sunday's contest against the Lady Volunteers of UT is slated for 1 p.m.
MSU enters this weekend's action with a 5-1 overall record which is their best start since starting 6-0 in 2005. MSU went 2-1 last week with wins over Southeastern Louisiana and Troy while falling to #59 South Alabama in a tight 4-3 decision.
The match versus UGA will serve as the 29th meeting between the two schools. UGA is currently undefeated against State, holding a 28-0 advantage. Georgia enters the match 7-1 with its only loss coming against top-ranked Georgia Tech, whom they defeated two weeks later.
The match on Sunday will mark the 31st meeting between State and Tennessee. The Volunteers are 6-2 with victories over #5 North Carolina and #28 Indiana to their credit. UT leads the all-time series 27-3.
"With SEC play starting, the competition is about to get a lot better," said head coach Tracy Lane. "Our girls are playing great and we need to be at our best to compete in the SEC."
Following this weekend's action, the Lady Bulldogs will head out for their first road matches of the season. State will travel to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama on Friday, March 7, at 3 p.m. CT and then continue on to Auburn where they will play at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 9.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Coming off a three-match win streak, the Mississippi State men's tennis team will open Southeastern Conference play Friday, as they travel to Athens, Ga. to face the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Friday's match is set for a 1:30 p.m. CT start at UGA's Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
MSU enters conference play with a 4-2 overall record this season. Most recently, State defeated Georgia State 6-1 in Starkville. Junior Ryan Farlow and freshman Antonio Lastre are currently leading State in dual match wins as both have won four straight. State is also led by a pair of seniors in 42nd-ranked Philippe Frayssinoux and 45th-ranked Ivan Bjelica. The pair is also ranked 59th in doubles.
Georgia comes into Friday's matchup with an 8-1 overall record. The defending NCAA Division I National Champions, UGA returns seven letterwinners from last year's undefeated squad. Georgia has four players ranked in the nation's top 75 including third-ranked Travis Helgeson and eighth-ranked Nate Schnugg. Helgeson is 15-4 this season while Schnugg is 27-6. Schnugg and sophomore Jamie Hunt are ranked 32nd in the doubles rankings.
Following Friday's matchup, MSU will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on 14th-ranked Tennessee. The Vols enter the conference-opening weekend with a perfect 10-0 record this season. UT is led by senior Kaden Hensel along with freshmen Boris Conkic and J.P. Smith. Match time at UT's Varsity Tennis Courts will be at 1 p.m. CT.
"There is not a tougher way to start conference play than how we will this weekend," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "We will be facing two of the best teams in the country on the road. We just have to stay focused and play the best tennis we can possibly play to have a chance. While it will be a big challenge for us, we are ready for the opportunity."
After this weekend's road action, MSU will open its home conference schedule Friday, March 7 against Alabama, followed by a meeting with Auburn in Starkville on Sunday, March 9.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's final regular-season home men's basketball game against LSU, next Saturday, March 8, has been selected by Raycom Sports for telecast, the Southeastern Conference announced Thursday. The game will tip off at 3 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum.
A halftime recognition of the Bulldogs' 1962-63 SEC Champion team, the first MSU basketball team in school history to play in the NCAA Tournament, is planned.
With the basketball time announcement by the SEC, MSU's baseball game that day, the second contest of a three-game Cadence Bank Classic weekend series with Baylor, will begin at 6 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-Dement Stadium.
Bulldog fans are reminded that reserved basketball parking will be honored that day.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom suspended indefinitely rising junior linebacker Jamon Hughes (Rolling Fork, Miss.), a penalty that will go into effect in Fall 2008.
Hughes was suspended for a violation of team rules. He will continue to workout and practice with the team through spring drills.
Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's indoor track team will return to Arkansas for the 2008 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend, beginning Friday, Feb. 29 and continuing through Sunday.
The Lady Bulldogs will begin their quest for the SEC Championship at 4:00 CST on Friday with the women's pentathlon. All events will take place on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This is the fifth time since 2000 that Arkansas has hosted the league-wide event. Last year in Lexington, Ky., the Tennessee Lady Vols claimed the women's championship, tallying 120 points. MSU's best finish at the SEC Indoor event came during the 2003 edition of the championships with their eighth place finish.
MState's last outing was at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. on Feb. 15-16. A total of seven personal marks were set by the Lady Bulldogs in the two-day event, with junior Marrissa Harris breaking the decade-old 60-meter hurdles record. The Memphis-native finished in 8.55 seconds, topping former Lady Bulldog LaTonya Hill's mark of 8.57 seconds set at the 1998 SEC Indoor Championships in Baton Rouge, La. Sophomore Bridgette Rose and junior Priscilla Gaines both notched personal-best times in the 60-meter dash, running 7.75 and 7.76, respectively. Rose also garnered another personal-best time in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing in 8.67 while sophomore LaQuinta Aaron finished right behind Rose in 8.68. Sophomore Wendy Copeland also gained a new personal mark in the 200-meter dash. Freshman Simone Domingue registered a new career-best mark with her eighth place finish in the 5000-meter run (10:04.61).
Live scoring of the SEC Indoor Track Championships will be provided at www.ladybacks.com and www.secsports.com.