News from MSU Media Relations--March 7

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Men's Tennis, Softball and Women's Tennis.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team will open its Southeastern Conference home slate Friday, hosting 21st-ranked Alabama at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on the MSU campus. Match time is set for 2 p.m.

The Bulldogs enter the matchup with a 4-4 overall record this season. State opened SEC play last weekend on the road, dropping a pair of matches to #3 Georgia and 14th-ranked Tennessee. However, in four home matches this season, MSU has not lost in defeating UAB, Louisiana Lafayette, South Alabama and Georgia State.

Having won two matches against ranked opponents to open conference play, MSU senior Ivan Bjelica has upped his season's record to 9-3 and improved to 5-2 in dual matches. The Belgrade, Serbia native has six wins over ranked opponents this spring and moved up to 26th in the latest singles rankings. Bulldog senior Philippe Frayssinoux moved up to 10 spots to 32nd in this week's singles rankings. The Paris, France native has 16 wins this season and is just seven victories away from topping last year's win total. Junior Ryan Farlow has notched 15 wins on the season and has won four of his last six matches. Sophomore Chris Doerr has won two of his last three matches playing on court #4, while freshman Antonio Lastre is 4-2 in dual matches this spring.

Alabama enters Friday's match with a 10-3 mark this season and is 2-0 in conference play after defeating LSU and Arkansas last weekend. The Tide is led by 94th-ranked sophomore Saketh Myneni who is 6-5 in dual matches this season. UA's doubles tandem of Dan Buikema and Mat Thibaudeau are ranked 45th in the doubles poll after going 2-0 to open conference play.

"Alabama is off to a great start this year," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "We are going to have to come ready to play and have a solid team effort to have a chance to win. We are ready to get back out there and are excited about the opportunity."

The Bulldogs hold a 25-21 advantage over the Tide dating back to 1969. State has won three of the last four meetings with UA but dropped their only meeting last season in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in a tight 4-3 decision.

Following Friday's match, the Bulldogs will host 23rd-ranked Auburn Sunday at 1 p.m. That match is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on MSU's campus.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 18th-ranked Mississippi State softball team will play host to Austin Peay, Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech this weekend as part of the 2008 Bulldog Classic which begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the MSU Softball Field.

Games begin at 10 a.m. each day, while Mississippi State, who enters the weekend 17-4 overall, takes to the field at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. all three days. MSU closes out the opening day of action with Charleston Southern at 2 p.m. and Louisiana Tech at 4 p.m. Admission to all MSU home games is free of charge.

The Bulldogs face Austin Peay and Charleston Southern on Saturday before closing out the tournament with Louisiana Tech and Austin Peay on Sunday.

State is hosting the tournament for the ninth time in program history, with Mississippi State having won its last six games in the tournament. The Bulldogs come in as the defending tournament champion after capturing the title in 2006.

Austin Peay will be playing in the Bulldog Classic for the third time, the first since 2004. State holds a 5-0 series lead over the Lady Govs, with MSU claiming a 12-4 win just two weekends ago at the Mercer Wingate Inn Classic in Macon, Ga.

MState will be facing Charleston Southern for the first time, but it will take on a familiar foe in Louisiana Tech. The two Bulldogs have met 14 times previously, with Tech holding a 9-5 edge in the series. State, however, has won the last five meetings, including the two most recent showdowns which came in Starkville during the 2005 campaign.

MSU continues to be paced at the plate by sophomore Chelsea Bramlett. The Cordova, Tenn., native enters the weekend hitting a Southeastern Conference third-best .452. She sits in a tie for second with a pair of triples, and her perfect 15-for-15 stolen base mark ranks No. 3 in the league.

Senior Courtney Bures continued to swing at hot bat for MSU last weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic and during the mid-week against UAB. The Haymarket, Va., native bumped her average to .333 as she collected a pair of hits against the Blazers to extend her season-long hit streak to eight games. Bures leads the team with four doubles, while her two home runs rank second on the squad behind fellow senior Hayle Guess.

Junior Kelsey Nurnberg picked up her season and team-best ninth win of the year against the Blazers, two days removed from notching her second save of the year against UMass at the Leadoff Classic. The Ankeny, Iowa, native has compiled a 1.73 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 72 and two-thirds innings.

Freshman Elizabeth Woolven of Nettleton, Miss., picked up the win over the Minutewomen last Sunday to run her record to 3-0, the second-best start for a freshman in school history. Woolven, who has a team-low 0.55 ERA, has 19 strikeouts compared to just five walks over 25 and a third innings. Fellow rookie Misty Flesher has compiled a 5-2 mark on the season, giving up just 10 runs and striking out 35 while walking six.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis team travels to the University of Alabama on Friday, March 7, and continues on to 41st-ranked Auburn Sunday, March 9, to open up their 2008 road schedule. The match with the Crimson tide is set for 3 p.m. CT on Friday, while Sunday's contest against the Lady Tigers of Auburn is slated for 1 p.m.

MSU enters this weekend's action with a 5-3 overall record. MSU dropped their first two matches of Southeastern Conference play last week with setbacks to second-ranked Georgia (4-0) and 23rd-ranked Tennessee (5-2).

The match versus Alabama will serve as the 41st meeting between the two schools. UA currently holds a 28-12 all-time the series with a 14-5 edge in matches played in Tuscaloosa. Alabama enters the match 3-6 on the season and 0-2 in SEC play.

The match on Sunday will mark the 36th meeting between State and Auburn. The Tigers hold a 21-14 lead in the all-time series with a 12-7 mark on the Plains against the Lady Bulldogs. Auburn is 9-3 in 2008 with their only losses coming against teams ranked in the top 25 nationally. They are 1-1 in league play.

"This is our most important weekend so far this season," said head coach Tracy Lane. "Alabama and Auburn are always big rivalries for us. We are playing at a very high level of tennis and we need to maintain that level throughout the weekend."

Following this weekend's action, the Lady Bulldogs will continue their road trip with a pair of neutral site matches. State will travel to Gulf Shores, Ala., to play Eastern Illinois on Wednesday, March 12, at 11 a.m. CT and then continue on to Mobile where they will play Indiana State at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 15.

Gene's Page Top Stories