COLUMBUS, Ga. - The No. 18 Mississippi State softball team split Friday's opening day of the 2008 NFCA Leadoff Classic, taking a 4-0 win over N.C. State before dropping a 2-0 decision to No. 11/12 Michigan.
Junior pitcher Kelsey Nurnberg hurled a three-hit, complete-game shutout in the opening win over the Wolfpack (7-9). Misty Flesher (5-2) suffered the loss against the nationally-ranked Wolverines (13-2), allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts over a valiant seven-inning effort. The top five hitters in the MSU (14-3) order each collected a hit against N.C. State, with seniors Courtney Bures and Hayle Guess each driving in a run and scoring one.
Bures also chipped in a hit against Michigan to cap a 2-for-5 afternoon at the South Commons Complex. Junior Sammie Jo Bailey went 2-for-3 at the plate against the Wolverines.
State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning against N.C. State as sophomore Chelsea Bramlett led off the game with a single and stole second. She moved to third on Nakita Boyce's sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch from NCSU starter Lindsay Campana (3-7).
State added another in the fourth when Bures led off with a single, moved to second on a Sammie Jo Bailey sacrifice and scored as Ali Bainbridge's bunt was thrown errantly into right field by the Wolfpack catcher.
MSU capped the scoring in the sixth as Boyce led off with a single and scored on Guess' triple to right center, her second of the year. Bures scored Guess with a sacrifice fly to center field.
"We received tremendous pitching today from Kelsey and Misty," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "I hate that Misty threw a game like she did against Michigan and lost, but that's how the game is. We had some opportunities offensively in the second game but didn't come through. I thought we played well defensively, but we have to be more aggressive at the plate."
The State offense was unable to break through against UM starter Nikki Nemitz (5-2). Nemitz struck out six as she scattered three hits in the complete-game effort. Nemitz helped her own cause in the seventh by drawing a lead-off walk. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, she scored on Teddi Ewing's single to center field. Ewing stole second and third and scored on Molly Bausher's single off the fist of the bat that MSU shortstop Courtney Bures was unable to snag.
State returns to the field Saturday, taking on Syracuse at 12:30 p.m. CST and UC Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. CST.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State women's tennis team's bid for an upset of #2 Georgia will have to wait until Saturday at 10 a.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre as rains suspended play midway through singles action Friday afternoon.
In hopes of finishing the match before the rain came, the match started Friday with singles play. However, 30 minutes into the match, play was suspended with State up on courts #5 and #3. Eventually, the match was officially postponed until 10 a.m. Saturday morning with all six matches still in progress.
Following Saturday's match, the Lady Bulldogs will play host to #23 Tennessee on Sunday, March 2, at 1 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team fell 6-1 to third-ranked Georgia Friday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. State fell to 4-3 this season with the loss while UGA improved to 9-1.
Doubles play was tight to open the match before UGA took control. The first match complete saw UGA's Drake Bernstein and Josh Varela defeat MSU's Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump 8-4 on court 3. Georgia clinched the point when Javier Garrapiz and Travis Helgeson downed State's duo of Ryan Farlow and Pjotrs Necajevs 8-4 at the #2 position. On court 1, Georgia's 32nd-ranked pair of Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg outbattled 59th-ranked Bulldogs Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux in a tiebreaker, winning 9-8(4).
Georgia would extend its lead early in singles play. UGA took a 2-0 lead when Garrapiz downed MSU junior Farlow 6-0, 6-0 on court #3. Georgia went up 3-0 when UGA's Christian Vitulli defeated MSU's Doerr 6-2, 6-4 on court #4. UGA took a 4-0 lead and clinched the win when Varela topped MSU freshman Antonio Lastre 6-2, 6-0 on court 5. Bjelica, ranked 45th, would provide the lone point for State, as he downed UGA's eighth-ranked Schnugg 6-4, 7-6 on court 1. However, Georgia would claim the last two matches on as UGA's 69th-ranked Hunt defeated State's 42nd-ranked Frayssinoux 6-3, 6-4 on court 2, while Georgia's Bernstein topped MSU freshman Maximilien Genuini 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 on court 6.
"We just didn't have enough to keep up with them today," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "It was easy to see why they are a top-five team. I was proud of the guys for showing great effort but we must continue to get better. Now we have to get prepared to face another really good team in Tennessee."
With a win on court #1, Bjelica improved to 8-3 overall this season and 4-2 in dual matches. The Belgrade, Serbia, native now has five wins over ranked opponents this spring, including two victories over players ranked in the top-10. With losses on court #3 and #5, Bulldogs Farlow and Lastre had four-match winning streaks snapped.
The Bulldogs will be back in action Sunday, as they travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to face 14th-ranked Tennessee. The Volunteers are 10-1 this season and are coming off a tight 4-3 loss to fourth-ranked Mississippi on Friday. Sunday's start time is set for 1 p.m. CT at the UT Varsity Tennis Courts.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's golf team is making its 23rd appearance at the Seminole Intercollegiate this weekend in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Bulldogs will tee off Sunday morning and play 18 holes each in three consecutive days at the par 72, 6,965-yard, Golden Eagle Country Club.
The Bulldogs are coming off their first tournament victory of the season at the Roadrunner Intercollegiate in San Antonio, Texas. MSU fired a 275 in round two, which ties the fourth lowest round in school history and scored a 1-under-par, 212 in the three-round event. MState has finished in the top five in their five previous tournaments, tying a school-record.
"This group has the ability to do a lot of thing that have not been done at this university," said Head Coach Clay Homan. "But, we want to continue to get as good as we can and compete with the elite schools."
Competing for MState will be seniors Josh Oller and Jake Lambert and a trio of juniors in Josh Bevell, Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Noah Goldman. Goldman, the reigning SEC male golfer of the week, is coming off an individual championship performance at the Roadrunner Intercollegiate where the Longwood, Fla.,-native shot a 1-under-par, 212, which included a career-best round of 64 in round two. Oller is coming off his second career top-five finish after tying for fifth at the Roadrunner Intercollegiate, which included a career-best round of 68 in the second round. Lambert will be making his third straight appearance for the Bulldogs this year. Bevell has competed in all MSU tournaments this season while Sainz, Jr. returns to the lineup after missing out on the Roadrunner Intercollegiate.
MSU will compete among a 12-team field that includes five top 25 ranked teams. Among the ranked teams will be host-school Florida State (13th), SEC-foe Auburn (9th), North Carolina (20th), in-state rival Mississippi (24th) and Mississippi State (23rd). Completing the field will be fellow SEC opponents LSU and Vanderbilt, followed by UAB, Charleston, Louisville, Maryland and Virginia.
"The field is smaller this tournament, but it includes five top 25 teams," said Homan. "Realistically there are seven or eight teams that can win the tournament."
Live stats will be available on www.GolfStat.com.