News from MSU Media Relations--March 26

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

Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 21st-ranked Mississippi State softball teams concludes its six-game road swing Wednesday, taking on eighth-ranked LSU in a Southeastern Conference doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.

Both games of the mid-week doubleheader will be broadcast live on WMSV 91.1 and online at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.

The Bulldogs jumped back into the SEC Western Division race last weekend, sweeping in-state rival Mississippi last weekend in Oxford, Miss., to move to 26-9 overall and 4-5 in conference play.

State stayed at No. 21 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll for the second straight week. MState has been ranked in the poll for six straight weeks, marking the program's longest tenure ever in the poll. LSU moved up two spots to No. 8 this week after holding the 10th position in both rankings last week.

The Tigers also enter the mid-week match-up following a weekend sweep. The Tigers claimed all three games from Auburn to advance to 27-4 overall and 6-0 in the league.

The Bulldogs were led in Oxford by the hot bat of freshman Courtney Nesbit and senior Hayle Guess. Nesbit earned SEC Freshman of the Week accolades after hitting .600 last week with five RBI. Guess capped a solid week at the plate by notching a career-best four hits in a 4-for-4, three-RBI effort against the Rebels.

Freshman Misty Flesher continued the solid start to her rookie campaign as she picked up two of State's three wins in Oxford. The Lone Grove, Okla., native, who moved to 10-5 on the year, also pitched the full five innings against Southern Mississippi on Tuesday.

Sophomore Chelsea Bramlett continues to pace the Bulldogs at the plate, hitting at a .426 clip with two doubles, three triples, a home run, 17 RBI and 30 runs scored. The Cordova, Tenn., native has stolen 28 bases in 29 attempts on the year, having her consecutive stolen base streak halted at 26 in Oxford on Friday.

Senior Courtney Bures continues her torrid pace at the plate, improving to .377 on the year after extending her hit streak to seven games last weekend. Bures' eight doubles leads the team, while her three home runs and 21 RBI are both second-most on the squad.

Along with Flesher's 10-5 mark in the circle, Kelsey Nurnberg has amassed a 13-4 mark on the campaign. Freshman Elizabeth Woolven is tied for the SEC lead in saves with four on the year, while the MSU pitching staff leads the league in fewest walks allowed with 52 in 235 innings.

Following the two-game SEC set in Baton Rouge, the Bulldogs return home and step out of conference play to host Georgetown and Mississippi Valley State in the 2008 Bully Bash. The two-day tournament, which will be held as part of Mississippi State's annual Super Bulldog Weekend festivities, kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday.


Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Veteran all-SEC standouts Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes of Mississippi State's 2008 NCAA Tournament team have been selected as finalists for this year's Cellular South Howell Trophy, as announced Monday by the Jackson-based Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Named in honor of former MSU All-American Bailey Howell and in its fourth year of existence, the Cellular South Howell Trophy is given annually to the state of Mississippi's top collegiate men's basketball player. MSU's Gordon and Rhodes are joined by Dwayne Curtis of the University of Mississippi as this year's trio of finalists for the coveted in-state award.

Ranked sixth (17.4 ppg) and seventh (17.2 ppg), respectively, among the SEC's scoring leaders this season for all games, Rhodes and Gordon are both repeat finalists for the Cellular South Howell Trophy, with Gordon having been on the final list a year ago and Rhodes two seasons ago as a sophomore. This season marks the second time in the four years since the award's inception that the Bulldogs have had two finalists during the same year. During the inaugural year of the award, former State All-American Lawrence Roberts earned the 2005 Cellular South Howell Trophy over Bulldog teammate Shane Power and Tommie Eddie of Ole Miss.

Along with rating as the school's most potent scoring duo in a season since former NBA standout guard Jeff Malone and Terry Lewis in 1982-83, MState's Gordon-Rhodes tandem has become the first State pairing since Roberts and Timmy Bowers from MSU's 2003-04 SEC championship team to earn first-team, all-league honors during the same season.

A junior from Nashville, Gordon is also a national finalist for this year's John R. Wooden Award (national player of the year) and Bob Cousy Award (nation's top collegiate point guard). The two-time, first-team all-SEC selection currently ranks third in the SEC in assists (4.94 apg) and 13th in rebounding (6.6 rpg) for the 2007-08 campaign. For his three-year State career, Gordon presently stands seventh on MSU's all-time scoring list with 1,558 career points, along with ranking third with 484 career assists and tied for 12th with 677 career rebounds.

A product of Jackson's Lanier High School, Rhodes also collected first-team all-conference accolades this season in leading coach Rick Stansbury's 23-11 and SEC Western Division champion Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding (7.8 rpg). The three-time all-SEC forward currently ranks this season as the SEC's No. 4 rebounder and is sixth in the league in field-goal percentage (.562). Rhodes completes his 110-game collegiate career ranked 11th all-time on both Mississippi State's career scoring (1,451 points) and rebounding (691 rebounds) charts.

The 2008 Cellular South Howell Trophy recipient will be named next Monday (March 31) at Tupelo's BancorpSouth Conference Center. A 5:30 p.m. reception will be followed by a 7 p.m. awards program. For ticket information, contact the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at 1-800-280-FAME (3263).

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Southeastern Conference will refund fans holding tickets that were purchased through an authorized agent to games moved during the 2008 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament in Atlanta, March 14-16.

The original ticket holder is the only person that may receive a refund on tickets. Individuals that purchased tickets in the secondary market will not qualify for refunds through any of the authorized ticket outlets. Ticket refunds will be issued by the same method in which the individual purchased the tickets. The maximum refund amount per ticket book would be $125 ($45 each for Sessions 4 and 5 and $35 for Session 6).

Games from sessions 4, 5, and 6 were moved to Alexander Memorial Coliseum at Georgia Tech University after a tornado struck the Georgia Dome on March 14. Fans holding tickets to these sessions may have been unable to attend games played at the Georgia Tech facility. Fans holding tickets to Sessions 4, 5 and 6 would receive a refund based on the following conditions:

The original ticket holder purchased the tickets through the SEC Ticket Office, the Georgia Dome or any of the 12 SEC member institutions.

The original ticket holder mails the Session 4, 5 and 6 tickets to the original place of purchase (SEC Ticket Office, the Georgia Dome or any of the 12 SEC member institutions) postmarked by Friday, April 18.  Session 4 tickets could also be a torn ticket since the first game of the session was played in the Georgia Dome.

Individuals that purchased their tickets through Mississippi State are asked to include their name, address and phone number with their tickets, and send to :

Mississippi State Athletic Ticket Office
Attn: SEC Ticket Refund
PO Box 5327
Mississippi State, MS 39762


Men's Golf
MOBILE, Ala. - The Mississippi State men's golf team had its first top five finish since the Roadrunner Intercollegiate, after the Bulldogs fourth place showing at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. The Bulldogs fired a three round score of 886 for 22-over-par at the par 72 Herron Lakes Country Club in Mobile, Ala.

"Overall it was disappointing but is an improvement from our previous two tournaments," said Coach Clay Homan.

The Bulldogs continually faltered after their second place standing in the first round upon their 5-over-par 293. On a day that the weather wasn't ideal, the Bulldogs shot eight strokes over their first round score in round two, notching a 301 to fall into third place. MState improved with the weather on Tuesday with their best showing in the tournament scoring a 4-over-par 292, but slipped into fourth place to conclude two-day event.

"On Monday it was chilly and windy which makes the course tough to play," said Homan. "But, if we are expecting to be a competitive team we need to play through the tough conditions and improve with each round."

MState junior Noah Goldman had his third top five finish of the year, finishing fourth after his 2-over-par finish. The Longwood, Fla.-native shot even par in round one, followed by a 3-over-par showing, and finished the Intercollegiate with a 1-under-par 71 in round three. Junior Matt Fast was in first place after the first two rounds in day one following his 3-under-par 69 and 1-over-par 73. The Hattiesburg, Miss.-native fired a 6-over-par 78 in round three to finish in a tie for eighth. Senior Josh Oller finished in a tie for 18th after notching a 9-over-par 225 through three rounds of play. Junior Josh Bevell improved on every round scoring 78-77-72 for a three round score of 227, while junior Carlos Sainz, Jr., tallied a 229 and tied for 36th.

"We need to be able to improve our scores and be more consistent on the greens," said Homan. "Once we make our scores more consistent in our starting lineup, will become more competitive."

MState had three players compete as individuals with senior Jake Lambert notching a 239; junior Logan Young and freshman Brad Thompson both tallied a score of 245.

MSU will compete in their final tournament of the season before postseason play, at the Reunion Intercollegiate in Madison, Miss.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior middle distance runner Golden Coachman has been named the Southeastern Conference Male Runner of the Week as announced today by the league office in Birmingham, Ala.

Coachman, MSU's 800-meter run record holder, earned the distinction after running a NCAA regional qualifying and season-best time of one minute, 49.19 in the 800-meter run at the Jace Lacoste Invitational on Saturday, March 22. En route to his first-place finish in the race, Coachman broke the Jace Lacoste Invitational meet record for the event. Coachman also ran the final leg of the 4x400-meter relay squad that placed first with a time of 3:14.52.

"Golden ran a great race this past weekend," said MSU Associate Head Coach Steve Dudley. "We are very happy for him to be named SEC Male Runner of the Week and hope that there will be more athletes of the week from our team during the 2008 season."

The Birmingham, Ala.-native is the first Bulldog of the 2007-08 outdoor season to garner the accolade. The last Bulldog to earn the award was Travis McKay, who captured it last year for the week of Mar. 19-25.

Coachman and the rest of the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs return to W.O. Spencer Stadium/Carl Maddox Track to host the Bulldog Invitational on Saturday, March 29, beginning at 9 a.m. The high school meet takes place on Friday, March, 28, with action starting at noon from the MSU campus. Admission to both meets is free.

More information on the Bulldog Invitational can be found at www.mstateathletics.com under the track and field section.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Senior Ivan Bjelica of the Mississippi State men's tennis team has been named the Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Week announced by the conference office in Birmingham on Tuesday.

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Bjelica won four matches this past weekend which included an upset of third-ranked Greg Ouellette of Florida. With the win over Ouellette, Bjelica knocked off his third top-10 opponent this spring and upped his overall record to 12-5 this season. With a singles and doubles win last Friday, Bjelica helped State notch a win against South Carolina to capture their second conference win. The senior, ranked 37th-nationally in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association's poll, is 8-4 in dual matches this spring in singles. With two wins in doubles this past weekend Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux moved to 7-2 at the #1 spot and have won four straight matches.

The honor for Bjelica marks the 12th time a Bulldog has won the award since it was initiated for tennis in 2000. He joins Jeremy Bayon, Marco Baron, Rene-Charles Combette, Romain Ambert, Luiz Carvalho, Florent Girod and Pierre Mouillon who have earned the honor.

The 38th-ranked Bulldog netters will be back in action this Friday as they travel to Lexington, Ky., to take on Kentucky, followed by a trip to Nashville, Tenn., to challenge Vanderbilt.


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