News from MSU Media Relations--March 22

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

OXFORD, Miss. - Senior Nakita Boyce's seventh-inning base hit rallied No. 21 Mississippi State from a two-run deficit as the Bulldogs swept Mississippi 5-3 and 3-2 Friday afternoon at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford, Miss.

Tied 2-2 entering the top half of the seventh inning, Hayle Guess led off with a single and advanced to second on Lindsay Hunley's perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt. With two away in the inning, Boyce dropped a single into left field that allowed Guess to score and put MSU on top 3-2.

Kelsey Nurnberg set the Rebels down in order in the final half inning to give State the sweep. The come-from-behind win moves State to 25-9 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference play.

Nurnberg extended her record to 13-5 on the year as she allowed the two runs on nine hits while matching a career high with seven strikeouts in the complete-game effort.

After an Ashley Dowdy two-run home run over the wall in center to put UM up 2-0, State knotted the game at two runs apiece with a big sixth inning off UM starter Tara Willitt (5-6). Boyce and Bramlett each singled to lead-off the frame. Freshman Ali Bainbridge moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and with two outs, Bailey lined a single to left-center that scored the pair to tie the game.

"Other than three pitches, we got great pitching all day," State head coach Jay Miller, who claimed his 200th victory as the Bulldogs head coach with the game one win, said. "The kids did a great job of battling at the plate in the second game. (Tara) Willitt threw well, but we kept going after her. Lindsay Hunley executed really well to move Hayle into scoring position. Nakita came up with a big hit, and Sammie Jo had a huge two-out hit with runners at second and third."

Bailey was one of three Bulldogs to collect a pair of hits in the game. Boyce also went 2-for-3 in the contest while Bramlett posted a 2-for-4 plate performance for the second consecutive contest.

Courtney Bures went 3-for-4 and sparked a three-run first inning as the Bulldogs opened the doubleheader with a 5-3 victory over their in-state rival. Bramlett added a pair of hits and scored a clutch run in the top of the seventh inning, while freshman Courtney Nesbit added two hits in the series opener.

"We did a nice job of putting runs on the scoreboard early," Miller said. "We stayed after them and picked up two good wins. Hopefully we can finish strong Saturday."

Misty Flesher jumped her record to 9-5 on the year as she allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts in five and a third innings. Elizabeth Woolven notched her team-leading fourth save as she hurled the final inning and two-thirds, giving up one run and hit on a Randi Green pinch-hit home run and a strikeout.

State kicked off its three-run first on Bainbridge's one-out single into center field. She scored when Bures singled to center and the ball went under the glove of UM centerfielder Courtnie Ghinaudo. Bailey followed with a double that scored Bures to put State on top 3-0.

MSU expanded the lead to 4-0 with a run in the top half of the third inning. Bures doubled on a high chopper that went over the leaping Rebel third baseman Lauren Grill. After moving to third on a Bailey ground-out, Spain plated her with a ground ball to second.

The Rebels cut the MState lead in half in the bottom of the fifth as Aly Presswood drew a two-out walk and Alyssa McGovern hit a two-run home run over the wall in left field.

UM got a pair of hits in the home half of the sixth to put the tying run on first base, but Woolven got a double play, State's 15th of the season, to get out of the jam.

The Bulldogs took advantage in the top of the seventh and extended the lead to three as Chelsea Bramlett singled, stole second and scored on Bainbridge's sacrifice bunt that was thrown by Nye over the head of the Rebel first baseman.

The insurance run proved clutch as Green hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh to cut the State lead to 5-3. Woolven got McGovern to ground-out to seal the MSU victory.

The Bulldogs will go for the SEC series sweep Saturday in a game set for a 1 p.m. first pitch. The series finale will be televised live by Fox Sports South.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 47th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team won its fourth straight Friday afternoon, defeating South Carolina 4-2 at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. The Bulldogs moved to 8-5 on the year and improved to 2-3 in conference play.

"I was very proud of our guys today," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "We were focused and kept our intensity level up. This was a good win for us and hopefully we can continue playing well."

State claimed the doubles point for the sixth time this season to take an early 1-0 lead. First off the courts, MSU's Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump topped South Carolina's Johannes Pulsfort and David Wolff 8-1 on court #3. The clincher came on court #1 as State's team of Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux downed USC's Pedro Campos and Yevgeny Supeko 8-4. MSU's Ryan Farlow and Pjotrs Necajevs were two points from victory on court #2, as they led Gamecocks Diego Cubas and Jaime Cuellar 7-4 when play was suspended.

MSU's 37th-ranked Bjelica gave State a 2-0 lead as he breezed by Supeko 6-0, 6-1 at the #1 position to open singles play. USC would close the gap to 2-1 as Ivan Cressoni topped MSU's Antonio Lastre 6-3, 6-2 on court #5. Minutes later, USC tied the score at 2-2 as Campos defeated MSU's Doerr 6-2, 6-4 on court 3. In a matter of seconds, State's 50th-ranked Frayssinoux closed in on a 6-4, 6-2 win over USC's Cubas at the #2 position, giving State a 3-2 edge. Junior Ryan Farlow would once again prove to be the difference as he held on to defeat Pulsfort 6-1, 6-4 on court #4 to clinch MSU's win. The remaining match on court #6 between Bulldog Artem Kuznetsov and Wolff of USC was suspended with Wolff leading 7-6(3), 2-2.

With the win over the Gamecocks, MSU is now 13-7 in the all time series with South Carolina. State's eight wins this season are the most since 2005. The doubles team of Bjelica and Frayssinoux moved to 6-2 this season as they evened their conference record at 2-2. Doerr and Stump are 5-1 together as they improved to 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Farlow and Frayssinoux won their fourth straight in singles while Bjelica improve to 3-1 in SEC matches.

MSU will continue its SEC schedule Sunday, as they travel to Gainesville, Fla., to face 18th-ranked Florida. Match time is set for noon C.T. at the Ring Tennis Complex on the UF campus.

Women's Tennis
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The 59th-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team fell to #33 South Carolina 6-1 Friday on the road. The Lady Bulldogs dropped to 7-6 overall with the loss and 0-5 in league play. South Carolina improved to 9-5, 2-3.

USC started the match with a sweep of the doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead. On court No. 1, the MSU duo of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers fell to South Carolina's 33rd-ranked tandem of Gira Schofield and Ana Zubori 8-0. Then, on court No. 2, MSU's Radka Ferancova and Renee Joseph fell to Suzanna Mansour and Megan McGavock 8-3. To finish off doubles, USC's Jelena Rajic and Natasa Vuckovic defeated Valeriya Makarycheva and DeAndra Saddler 8-3.

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

The match-clincher would come at No. 1, where USC's 44th-ranked Schofield defeated MSU's Banikova 6-2, 6-2.

Mississippi State would then post its lone point of the day with a 6-1, 6-4 victory on court No. 4 by de Villiers, who downed South Carolina's Mansour. The win was de Villiers' seventh-straight singles victory.

USC would finish off the match with back-to-back victories. On court No. 2, Joseph was defeated by #75 Zubori 6-2, 6-2 and Makarycheva fell to Rajic, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6.

Mississippi State will next play this Sunday, March 23, when they will host fourth-ranked Florida at 1 p.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State track and field squads will host the 12th annual Jace Lacoste Invitational on Saturday, March 22. Action begins at 9 a.m. at the W.O. Spencer Stadium/Carl Maddox Track on the MSU campus. Admission to all MSU track and field meets is free.

Other teams scheduled to participate include UAB, Wallace State (Ala.) Community College, Vanderbilt, Arkansas-Pine Bluff's men and Tennessee State's men.

Entering the meet, State has posted regional qualifying marks in four events. On the men's side, senior Jamil Hubbard (Atlanta, Ga.), sophomore Kendall May (Northport, Ala.) and John Bailey (Terry, Miss.) earned their regional qualifying marks in the 200-meter dash at the Jaguar Premier with times of 20.92, 21.27 and 21.22, respectively. O'Neal Wilder (Carthage, Miss.) finished first in the 200-meter dash (21.12) at the Southern Miss Invitational to notch his regional qualifying mark.

Repeating the success of past relay teams, both 4x100- and 4x400- meter relay teams have already carded regional qualifying marks early in the season. In women's events, sophomore Bridgett Rose (Leeds, Ala.) qualified in the 100-meter hurdles with her second place finish at the Southern Miss Invitational with her time of 13.76.

Named in honor of MSU's late all-Southeastern Conference decathlete and team captain, who was killed in a 1995 automobile accident, the Jace Lacoste Invitational has been held annually since 1996. Lacoste was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll from 1987-1990, president of the M-Club, State's student-athlete community service organization, a student senator and a member of the MSU Hall of Fame. He was also a member of various other MSU organizations.

In addition, the Jace Lacoste Award is presented each year to the most outstanding Bulldog track and field athlete. Past recipients of the award include: Rayton Archer (1996), Terry Day (1997), Dedric Ruffin (1998), Fred Collier (1999), Rod Newton (2000), Pierre Browne (2001, 2002), Marquis Davis (2003), LaChristopher Lewis (2004), Jamel Ashley (2005) and Arthur Davis (2006, 2007).

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