News from MSU Media Relations--March 2

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

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Mississippi State head softball coach Jay Miller earned his 900th career victory Saturday as his 18th-ranked Bulldogs defeated Syracuse 8-2 Saturday at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. State split for the second straight day, falling 5-2 to UC Santa Barbara in the nightcap in a tough, eight-inning thriller.

Miller now stands at 900-560 in his 26-year coaching career, and he has compiled a 191-145 mark in his six seasons with the Bulldogs.

State (15-4) received solid pitching for the second straight day, as Elizabeth Woolven hurled five innings of no-hit softball in relief in the opener against Syracuse (0-11) to move to 2-0 on the campaign. Kelsey Nurnberg, who surrendered two runs on three hits in the first two innings against the Orange, came back in the second game and held the Gouchos (9-8) scoreless through the first seven innings.

"I'm still frustrated a little bit by the way we are swinging the bats," Miller said. "We didn't manage our plate appearances too well today, and we left a lot of runners on base. I was pleased with our pitching today from Kelsey and Elizabeth, and our defense did a nice job except for one inning. We had a lot of opportunities that we didn't capitalize one, so we have to work hard and learn from these games as we head into tomorrow."

The Ankeny, Iowa, native allowed five runs, with only one being earned, on eight hits as she fell to 8-2 on the campaign. Woolven surrendered a hit over the final two-thirds.

Courtney Bures paced the MSU offensive attack in the opening game of the day as she went 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored another. Senior Hayle Guess drove in a pair of runs against the Orange with her bases-clearing double down the right-field line that capped a three-run first inning.

Freshman Ali Bainbridge and Bures each drew two-out walks in that three-run first. Bainbridge scored on Sammie Jo Bailey's RBI single before Guess delivered her two-run double.

State added three more runs in the second. Courtney Nesbit led off the second with a base hit to center field, and after Lindsay Hunley reached on an error by the Orange second baseman, she advanced along with pinch-runner Brittany Bell on a passed ball. Chelsea Bramlett followed with a fielder's choice that scored Bell to make it a 4-0 game, and after Hunley extended the lead on a passed ball, Nakita Boyce capped the three-run inning with a base hit to left field.

After Syracuse added its two runs on a Jorden Rosen home run, MSU answered with a run in the top of the third. Guess led off with a walk, moved to third on a Nesbit single and a throwing error, and scored on Hunley's ground-out. MSU tacked on its final run in the sixth as Bainbridge delivered a two-out single, stole second and scored on Bures' second base hit of the day, a single to center field.

After the first game saw the Bulldog offense explode for eight runs on nine hits at South Commons Complex, the second game featured a pitcher's duel between Nurnberg and Lindsey Correa, who moved to 5-3 after surrendering two runs, one earned, on six hits in a complete-game effort.

With Jackie Conlin at second via the international tie-breaker, she moved to third as Nicole Churnock's bunt single and scored on a Christine Ramos sacrifice fly. Churnock, who had advanced to second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored as she slid in just ahead of Jessie Bailey's throw on a Jessica Ziegler ground ball. In an attempt to throw out Ziegler at second, Bramlett's throw skipped into center field to score Ziegler from second. Tisha Duran ad Tiffany Wright followed with back-to-back singles, and two hitters later, Kelsey Anderson capped the five-run burst with her double to center field that was able to plate Duran and Wright before she was thrown out trying to advance to third.

State didn't back down, however, as the Bulldogs rallied to plate a pair of runs in the home half of the eighth. Brittany Bell scored from second as Bramlett doubled through the left side. She advanced to third on a Boyce ground-out and scored on a Bainbridge single. Bainbridge was thrown out trying to advance to second, and Bures grounded out to end the game.

The Bulldogs finish play at the Leadoff Classic on Sunday, taking on Massachusetts in a game set for an 11:30 a.m. CST first pitch.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After Friday's match was suspended until Saturday due to rain, Mississippi State's women's tennis team fought hard early on but ultimately fell to second-ranked Georgia 4-0 Saturday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre in the Southeastern Conference opener for both squads. State dropped to 5-2 overall with the loss. Georgia moved 8-1 on the season.

UGA grabbed the early lead with a strong 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 2 singles with Yvette Hyndman defeating Renee Joseph. Georgia took a 2-0 advantage when Naoko Ueshima completed a 6-4, 6-0 victory over MSU's Daniela Juskova at the No. 4 position. UGA went up 3-0 when Adrienne Elsberry provided a 7-6(3), 6-1 win over State's Valeriya Makarycheva at No. 6.

The match-clincher would come at the No. 1 spot, where UGA's 32nd-ranked Kelley Hyndman bested State's Martina Banikova 7-6(2), 6-2.

In the remaining matches, which were suspended, courts No. 3 and 5 were both in third sets. State's Elna de Villiers was tied at 2-2 in the third against Georgia's Cameron Ellis and UGA's 51st-ranked Monika Dancevic was up 3-0 in the third set over MSU's Radka Ferancova.

"I am very pleased with the way our girls played today," commented head coach Tracy Lane. "Georgia is a very good team and we played them tough. We have some courts where we need to play hard for the entire match but for the most part we are playing well."

Singles matches were started on Friday in hopes of finishing before the rain came. Play was suspended midway through singles and resumed on Saturday at noon.

Mississippi State now prepares for a home matchup with #23 Tennessee on Sunday. That contest is slated for a 1 p.m. start at the Pitts Tennis Centre on campus.

Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State women's basketball team (15-11, 4-9 Southeastern Conference) plays host to sixth-ranked LSU (24-4, 13-0 SEC) Sunday afternoon to close out the 2007-08 regular season. Tipoff between the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Tigers is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum, and will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net with Dave Neal and Carol Ross calling the action.

Prior to Sunday's game, seniors Imesia Jackson, Amy Reeder, Miayorka Johnson and manager John Reliford will be honored by the Lady Bulldog basketball team. The four seniors will be participating in their last game at Humphrey Coliseum for the maroon and white.

The matchup between Mississippi State and LSU Sunday will mark the second time the two teams have met this season. The Lady Tigers took an 84-31 victory over State earlier in the year. LSU Head Coach Van Chancellor will be making a return trip to his alma mater. The Winston County native graduated from Mississippi State in 1965.

The Lady Bulldogs enter the matchup with LSU coming off a hard-fought 72-46 loss to third-ranked Tennessee on Saturday. During that contest, State went on a 15-0 run to take to take a lead late in the opening period, but could never garner control of the game. For the season, MSU is led by sophomore guard Alexis Rack. The three-point specialist leads the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game, while shooting nearly 33 percent from behind the arc. The Lady Bulldogs are paced on the boards by sophomore forward Tysheka Grimes, who is averaging 6.5 rebounds per game.

Coming off a Final Four appearance a season ago, LSU has not disappointed Lady Tiger fans in the 2007-08 season. The team is currently ranked sixth in the country and is battling Tennessee for the SEC Championship. The senior-laden lineup is led by all-American candidate Sylvia Fowles. The senior leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 18.2 points and 9.7 boards a game.

Following the matchup with LSU, Mississippi State travels to Nashville, Tenn. for the 2008 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament. The event tips off next Wednesday, March 5 at Nashville's Sommet Center.

Track & Field
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State junior Marrissa Harris leaped 20 feet, two and a quarter inches in the long jump to add another NCAA provisional qualifying mark to her resume. Harris finished fifth in the event on the second day of the SEC Indoor Championships. The event concludes tomorrow and is being held at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Facility on the campus of the University of Arkansas.

"Marrissa did a great job again today," said head coach Al Schmidt. "She has qualified for NCAAs in another event, the long jump. We have a big day tomorrow and we look forward to competing and finishing the weekend."

In the 60-meter dash, sophomore Gabrielle Dillon placed 15th, finishing in 7.57 seconds. Junior Priscilla Gaines crossed the line in 7.72, notching a personal best mark. Sophomore Bridgette Rose hurdled her way into 13th place, finishing the 60-meter hurdles in a personal-best 8.63.

Gaines also competed in the 200-meter dash, finishing in a personal-best 24.78, moving into fifth place on the all-time list in the competition. Sophomore Wendy Copeland joined Gaines in the 200, running a personal-best 24.97 to round out the top 25.

The Lady Bulldogs return to action tomorrow at 10 a.m. (CST) to compete in the final day of the SEC Indoor Championships.

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