News from MSU Media Relations--March 21

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 21st-ranked Mississippi State softball team returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend as the Bulldogs travel to Oxford for a three-game series with in-state rival Mississippi beginning Friday.

The Bulldogs and Rebels series kicks off Friday with a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. The two teams conclude the SEC Western Division showdown at 1 p.m. Saturday in a game scheduled to be aired live on Fox Sports South.

State enters the weekend with a 23-9 overall record after Tuesday night's 9-0 victory over another in-state foe, Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg. MSU currently stands at 1-5 in conference play. UM, who improved to 15-12 on the season Tuesday night, enters the weekend's series at 0-6 in league action.

The two teams will be meeting for the 39th, 40th and 41st times, with MState holding a 23-15 lead in the series. State won three of the four meetings between the two squads last season after the Rebels claimed the previous four contests. Since the two teams started meeting in 1997, they have split the 16 games that have been played in Oxford.

Sophomore Chelsea Bramlett paces MSU at the plate. The Cordova, Tenn., native is hitting an SEC second-best .427 with two doubles, three triples, a home run, 17 RBI and 27 runs scored. Bramlett is a perfect 26-for-26 in stolen bases on the year, the fourth-best consecutive steals mark in school history.

Courtney Bures, a senior, rates second on the team with a .368 average. A native of Haymarket, Va., Bures has a team-high six doubles and is second on the team in home runs (3) and RBI (20). Bures tops the squad in league play, hitting .400 with a double, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team will look to extend its current three-match winning streak Friday when it returns home to host South Carolina. Match time at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre is set for 2 p.m.

The Bulldogs, ranked 47th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association's poll, enter Friday's match having won three straight over 22nd-ranked Auburn, UNLV and Nevada. Overall, State is 7-5 this season as the Bulldogs have already matched last year's win total. 50th-ranked Senior Philippe Frayssinoux and junior Ryan Farlow have both won three straight singles matches while freshman Tanner Stump won a singles match and doubles match last week against UNLV and Nevada which earned him SEC Freshman Of The Week honors. Senior Ivan Bjelica has notched six dual match wins this spring and is currently ranked 37th nationally.

South Carolina enters Friday's matchup ranked 70th nationally. The Gamecocks are 8-6 this season but are 0-4 in conference play. USC is led by sophomore Pedro Campos who is 17-8 overall this season, including a 12-2 dual match mark. The Gamecocks are led by head coach Kent DeMars who is in his 24th year at South Carolina.

"After a week away from conference play, we have to realize what we have to do to keep our momentum going," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "South Carolina is a good team and we will have to play very well and fight hard if we want to win."

In 19 previous meetings in the series, MSU holds a 12-7 advantage over the Gamecocks. Last season in Starkville, State had multiple team match points but failed to close it out as USC rallied to take a 4-3 victory.

Following Friday's match, MSU will travel to Gainesville, Fla., to face 18th-ranked Florida on Sunday. That match is slated for a noon C.T. start at UF's Ring Tennis Complex.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis team travels to 33rd-ranked South Carolina on Friday, March 21, and returns home to host fourth-ranked Florida on Easter Sunday, March 23. The match with the Gamecocks is set for 1 p.m. CT on Friday. Sunday's contest against the Gators is also slated for a 1 p.m. CT start.

MSU enters this weekend's action with a 7-5 overall record. MSU won two non-conference matches last week with victories over 74th-ranked Eastern Illinois (7-0) and Indiana State (4-3).

The match versus South Carolina will serve as the 20th meeting between the two schools. USC holds an 18-1 advantage all-time in the series with an 8-1 edge in matches played in Columbia. South Carolina enters the match 8-5 on the season and 1-3 in SEC play.

The match on Sunday will mark the 27th meeting between State and Florida. The Gators are currently undefeated against the Lady Bulldogs all-time holding a 26-0 record. Florida is 10-1 in 2008 with their only loss coming against ninth-ranked Duke. They are 4-0 in league play. The Gators are the second top-10 team the Lady Bulldogs have played host to this season (#2 Georgia).

Following this weekend's action, the Lady Bulldogs will remain at home to host 23rd-ranked Kentucky on Friday, March 28, at 2 p.m. CT and 11th-ranked Vanderbilt on Sunday, March 30, at 1 p.m. Both home matches will be part of 2008 Super Bulldog Weekend festivities.

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