News from MSU Media Relations--March 10

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

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team won its first conference match of the season Sunday, defeating 23rd-ranked Auburn 4-3 at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. State evened its season's record to 5-5 and moved to 1-3 in Southeastern Conference play.

"I was really pleased with how we played today," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "We started out well with doubles and carried it over into singles. This is a good win for us and gives us something we can build on in the next couple of weeks."

MSU opened the match in convincing fashion, sweeping the doubles point. First off the courts was the duo of Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux who topped Auburn's team of Alexey Tsyrenov and Terence Nugent 8-2 on court #1. The Bulldogs clinched the opening point as sophomore Chris Doerr and freshman Tanner Stump defeated AU's Alex Petropoulos and Pawel Dilaj 8-4 on court #3. State closed in on the sweep when Bulldogs Ryan Farlow and Pjotrs Necajevs downed Tigers Tim Puetz and Lukas Marsoun 8-4 on court #2.

State would gain momentum early in singles play, winning the first set on five of six courts. The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead when freshman Antonio Lastre handled Auburn's Petropoulos 6-1, 6-4 at the #6 position. The lead was extended to 3-0 when State's 32nd-ranked Frayssinoux closed out AU's 114th-ranked Puetz 6-2, 6-2 on court #2. Auburn closed the gap to 3-1 when AU's Dilaj outlasted Bulldog Artem Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-3 on court #5. With three closely contested matches remaining on court, the decision would ultimately come down to court #4 between MSU's Farlow and Auburn's Nugent. Battling set points in the first set, Farlow rallied from a 6-4 tiebreaker deficit to win the first set 7-6(8). The Madison, Miss., native would eventually break Nugent's serve twice in the second set as he eased to a 6-3 win and clinched the win for State.

Auburn notched its second point as Marsoun outlasted MSU's Doerr 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 on court #3. Auburn's 89th-ranked Tsyrenov would claim the final point of the match, as he topped MSU's 26th-ranked Bjelica 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) on court #1.

With the win, State moved to 5-1 at home this season. MSU also snapped a two-match skid to the Tigers. Farlow captured his team leading sixth dual match win of the spring while Lastre won his fifth.

MSU will next be in action Wednesday as they travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to face UNLV followed by a matchup with Nevada Saturday, March 15.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Kelsey Nurnberg earned her third victory of the weekend, and the Bulldog offense put up five runs over the first four innings as No. 18 Mississippi State won the Bulldog Classic championship with a 5-2 win over Louisiana Tech Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Field.

The junior from Ankeny, Iowa, moved to 12-2 on the year as she allowed two unearned runs on six hits with three strikeouts in the complete-game effort. Nurnberg claimed Most Valuable Player accolades along with sophomore Chelsea Bramlett as she gave up two earned runs and struck out 14 to go 3-0 in 16 innings for the Bulldogs (21-4).

"This was a good weekend for us. We got great pitching and outstanding defense in very sloppy conditions," State head coach Jay Miller said. "We made good contact at the plate, and we had good at-bats, which is a very good sign heading into conference play this week. It's nice to see Kelsey dominate the way she is for this time of year. Our pitching staff as a whole did a nice job this weekend. They will keep us in games, and that gives our offense a lot of confidence. The pitching staff has a lot of confidence right now because our defense is playing really well right now."

Bramlett collected another pair of hits while driving in a run and scoring another in the game. The Cordova, Tenn., native hit .533 (8-for-15) over the four-game set, driving in a run and scoring six times while going a perfect 5-for-5 on stolen bases.

Sammie Jo Bailey capped a solid weekend at the plate on Sunday, going 2-for-2 with an RBI to earn a place on the all-tournament team along with Misty Flesher, Hayle Guess and Courtney Bures.

Bailey jumped State to an early 1-0 lead as she delivered a two-out single up the middle to score Guess, who reached on a base hit, moved to second on a Bures single and stole third.

MSU expanded the edge to 2-0 the next inning. Nakita Boyce hit a two-out triple to left, and Bramlett scored her as she hit a three-bagger off the wall in center field. MSU came through again with two outs in the third as Bailey drew a two-out walk and scored on Gina McCloud's line drive to right that went under the Lady Techster's glove and rolled to the warning track.

MSU took advantage of another Louisiana Tech (13-12) miscue to put the final runs on the board in the fourth. After Bramlett and freshman Ali Bainbridge reached on consecutive singles, Bures hit a ground ball to first base that was thrown errantly into right field to allow both Bramlett and Bainbridge to score and put MSU up 5-0.

Louisiana Tech added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, but it wasn't enough for Krissi Oliver, who fell to 4-6 after giving up only two earned runs on 10 hits with one strikeout and a pair of walks.

MSU opens Southeastern Conference action Tuesday, traveling to Auburn to take on the Tigers in a three-game set which begins with a doubleheader Tuesday at 5 p.m. State will close out the three-game set Wednesday in a game set for a 4 p.m. first pitch.

Tuesday's second game, along with Wednesday's series final will be broadcast on MSU's official campus radio station, WMSV 91.1. The games can be heard on the World Wide Web at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.


Women's Tennis
AUBURN, Ala. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team fell to #41 Auburn 5-2 on Sunday on the road. The Lady Bulldogs dropped to 5-5 overall with the loss and 0-4 in league play. Auburn improved to 11-3, 3-1.

Auburn started the match off strong with back-to-back wins in doubles to take a 1-0 lead. On court No. 1, the 45th-ranked MSU duo of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers fell to Auburn's 47th-ranked tandem of Alex Haney and Melissa Koning 8-4. Then, on court No. 2, MSU's Radka Ferancova and Renee Joseph fell to Gaby Beelen and Jil Hastenrath 8-6. To finish off doubles, State's Valeriya Makarycheva and DeAndra Saddler defeated Fani Chifchieva and Dunja Djuranovic 8-7.

In singles play, Auburn took a 3-0 match lead with two straight-set victories in the first two matches completed. On court No. 2, Haney defeated Joseph 6-1, 6-0. Beelen then posted a 6-0, 6-2 victory over State's DeAndra Saddler at the No. 5 position.

The match-clincher would come at No. 3, where Auburn's Koning defeated MSU's Ferancova 6-3, 6-1. Auburn would then extend the lead to 5-0 when the Lady Bulldogs' Banikova was defeated 6-2, 6-2 by the 24th-ranked Chihchieva on court No. 1.

Mississippi State would close out the match with singles victories on the last two courts. On court No. 6, Makarycheva claimed victory over Djuranovic 6-2, 6-2 and de Villiers finished off a win over Hastenrath, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 4.

Mississippi State will next play this Wednesday, March 12, when they face Eastern Illinois in Gulf Shores, Ala. at 11 a.m. CT.


Track & Field
MOBILE, Ala. - The Mississippi State men's track and field team started off the outdoor season on a high note, capturing five NCAA qualifying marks and five individual titles today at the Jaguars Premier in Mobile, Ala. on the campus of University of South Alabama.

In the 200-meter dash, the Bulldogs grabbed three qualifying marks and swept the top three spots, taking four out of the top five positions. Senior Jamil Hubbard took top honors in the event, finishing in a personal-best 20.92 seconds. Sophomore Kendall May finished in second with a personal-best time of 21.22, while junior John Bailey captured third place in 21.27. Freshman O'Neal Wilder came across the line in fourth place, setting his personal-best time of 21.49.

MSU also captured four out of five spots in the 400-meter dash, with senior Chris Woods finishing in second place in a personal-best time of 47.30. Freshman Emanuel Mayers notched third place with his time of 47.80. Seniors Golden Coachman (47.82) and Kyle Roberts (49.20) rounded out the Bulldog top five in fourth and fifth place, respectively with their new personal-bests.

In distance events, freshman Matthew Cameron crossed the line in first place for MState in the 800 with his personal-best time of 1:55.10. Freshman Ben Blakenship notched second place in the 5000-meter run with a personal-best time of 14:33.65. Senior Brandon Smith followed in third in a career-best 14:45.55 and senior Ashenafi Arega crossed in fourth in 14:45.56 to set a new personal-best time in the event.

Mayers also ran in the 400-meter hurdles, taking second place, setting a new personal standard (52.56). Freshman Martin Lee competed in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing up in a personal-best time.

The Bulldogs swept both relay events, notching NCAA qualifying marks in both relays. In the 4x100-meter relay, the tandem of Bailey, freshman Justin Christian, Hubbard and May took first place, finishing in 40.37. Bailey, Hubbard, Mayers and Woods received their qualifying mark for their first place finish in the 4x400-meter relay, crossing the line in 3:09.30.

Freshman Ed Wesela participated in the shot put, winning in the event with his personal-best throw of 51 feet, one inch. Wesela also took second place in the discus throw with personal-best throw of 137-06.

A total of 18 new personal highs were set by Bulldogs at the end of the day. The Bulldogs return to action on Mar. 15, competing at the USM Invitational in Hattiesburg, Miss.


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