News from MSU Media Relations--March 31

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State sophomore Chelsea Bramlett's inside-the-park home run sparked a 4-for-5 afternoon, and Misty Flesher came three out shy of a perfect game as the Bulldogs swept Georgetown and Mississippi Valley State 7-2 and 12-0, respectively, to claim the 2008 Bully Bash championship Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Field.

The tournament-clinching victory over MVSU moves State to 30-11 on the season, the 12th straight season with 30-plus wins for the program. State swept all three of its home tournaments this season, and combined with the season-opening Cathedral City Kickoff championship, has laid claim to four titles this season.

Flesher improved her record to 12-6 on the year as she picked up her second win of the weekend against the Delta Devilettes. Flesher struck out six over the full five innings and had a perfect game broken up in the fifth on a Megan Hays lead-off double.

Flesher's outstanding weekend earned her tournament MVP accolades, while Ali Bainbridge, Bramlett, Jessie Bailey, Jessie Spain, Hayle Guess, Courtney Bures, Kelsey Nurnberg and Nakita Boyce earned all-tournament honors along with Samantha Peters of Georgetown and Traci Roper of MVSU.

Nurnberg earned the victory over Georgetown in the opener to move to 14-5 on the year. The Ankeny, Iowa, native allowed a pair of runs on six this while striking out a career-best 10 in the complete-game effort.

"Our players did a great job swinging the bats this weekend," State head coach Jay Miller said. "We came out this weekend and played our game, and we hit well throughout the line-up. Our pitching was really good, and they got some help from some solid defense. This was a nice breather from conference play and a great way to get some confidence back. Overall, this was a great weekend for us."

Bramlett and Bailey led a group of five State players to collect two hits each in the win over MVSU. The sophomore from Cordova, Tenn., went 2-for-2 and drove in two runs while scoring twice. Jessie Bailey hit her fourth double of the weekend as she went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a pair of runs.

State continued its early-game offensive production in both games. In the second game of the twin bill, State struck with a run in the first and never looked back in its third straight win over Valley.

With one out in the Bulldogs' first at-bat, Bramlett reached on a bunt single, stole second and scored on a Bures base hit to put MSU up 1-0.

MState expanded the cushion with a four-run second that started with a Spain walk and a Bailey RBI double down the line in left field. Bailey advanced to third on a Bainbridge bunt and put State on top 3-0 as she crossed home on a single to second base by Boyce. Bramlett followed with her second base hit, a hard shot to center that plated Bainbridge for a 4-0 lead, and scored on an MVSU error, one of three in the game.

The Bulldog offense continued its hitting display off MVSU starter Shelly Hadaller (2-5) with five more runs in the third. Hadaller allowed nine earned runs on 14 hits with one strikeout in the losing effort.

Guess and Spain led the inning off with back-to-back singles. After advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch, the pair scored as Jessie Bailey lined a single into left field. Bainbridge and Boyce followed with a single and walk, respectively, and the duo scored as Bramlett hit a fly ball to the warning track in left that popped out of the glove of Roper. With the Bulldogs leading 9-0, Boyce moved to third on a Bures fly ball to center and came home on a Lindsay Hunley sharply-hit ground ball that deflected off the leg of Hadaller and rolled into shallow left field.

MSU added the final two runs in the fourth as Spain singled and Megan Bateman was hit by a pitch. After Brittany Bell was hit by a pitch, Spain and Bateman scored on Bures' two-out single to center.

Bramlett opened her day by going 2-for-3, including an inside-the-park home run, with three RBI and three runs scored as Mississippi State knocked off the Hoyas 7-2. Bramlett's home run was her second of the season, and it was the second inside-the-park home run of the year by a Bulldog.

Boyce went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored twice as the Bulldogs picked up nine hits in support of Nurnberg.

Jennifer Connell suffered the loss for GU to fall to 13-18 on the campaign. Connell allowed seven runs, four earned, off of nine hits with a strikeout and a walk.

The Bulldogs took a 5-0 lead with two runs in the first and three more in the second. Boyce kicked off the scoring as she tripled to lead off the bottom of the first and scored on Bramlett's fielder's choice. Bramlett, who advanced to second on the fielder's choice, stole third and scored as the catcher's throw was deflected into the outfield.

MSU scored its three second-inning runs with two outs. Boyce reached on a bunt single and stole second. Bramlett scored her on her inside-the-park home run, a line drive to the wall in right field. Bures followed with a base hit up the middle and scored on the third of Georgetown's four errors.

The Bulldogs added another run in the fourth on Hunley's sacrifice fly and scored in the fifth as Spain crossed home following a Bainbridge single.

The Bulldogs return to the road Tuesday, taking on MVSU in the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Itta Bena. Following the mid-week road trip, MSU returns to SEC action with a Thursday doubleheader against Kentucky and a three-game series with third-ranked Florida.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Despite a pair of upset victories over ranked players, the 63rd-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team fell to #11 Vanderbilt 4-2 Sunday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus. The Lady Bulldogs dropped to 7-9 overall with the loss and 0-8 in league play. Vanderbilt improved to 15-3, 5-3.

For the second consecutive match, singles matches were played first due the threat of inclement weather later in the day.

Vanderbilt took a 3-0 match lead with three straight-set victories in the first three matches completed on the afternoon. On court No. 1, 22nd-ranked Amanda Taylor bested Lady Bulldog Martina Banikova 6-2, 6-0. Then, 94th-ranked Taka Bertrand posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory over State's Elna de Villiers at the No. 3 position. At the No. 5 spot, MSU's DeAndra Saddler would fall victim to VU's Keilly Ulery 6-3, 6-4.

Mississippi State would come right back with a 6-4, 7-6(4) upset victory on court No. 4 by Radka Ferancova, who downed Vanderbilt's 58th-ranked Courtney Ulery. The win was Ferancova's first win over a ranked opponent while at State.

However, the Commodores would prove to be too strong in the match-clincher that would come at No. 6, where VU's Caroline Ferrell outlasted MSU's Valeriya Makarycheva 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Mississippi State would finish off the match with another upset victory on court No. 2. State's Renee Joseph upended 34th-ranked Catherine Newman 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. The win marked the second-highest ranked opponent Joseph had ever defeated.

"I am really proud of the way our girls played today," commented head coach Tracy Lane. "We just played the 11th-best team in the country extremely well and that gives us something to build on for next weekend."

Mississippi State will now head out on the road to play at #27 LSU this Friday, April 4, at 3 p.m. CT and then continue on to meet 13th-ranked Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., this Sunday, April 6, at 12 p.m. CT.

Men's Tennis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The 38th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team dropped its second straight 4-3 match, falling Sunday in dramatic fashion to 35th-ranked Vanderbilt at the Curry Tennis Center on the Vanderbilt campus. State fell to 8-8 overall this season and 2-6 in Southeastern Conference play.

The Bulldogs would break on top to begin the match as they took the doubles point, winning two of three matches. The first complete came on court #1 where MSU's team of Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux fell 8-3 to Vanderbilt's Ryan Preston and Vijay Paul. State responded as Ryan Farlow and Pjotrs Necajevs downed Commodores Nick Cromydas and Bryant Salcedo 8-4 on court #2. On court #3, the Bulldog duo of Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump held on for an 8-5 victory over Evan Dufaux and Adam Baker, giving MSU the early lead.

Vanderbilt responded early in singles as the Commodores won the first set on four of six courts. VU tied the match at 1-1 as VU's 101st-ranked Paul ousted State's Doerr 6-2, 6-2 on court #3. Commodore Salcedo gave Vandy a 2-1 edge when he defeated MSU freshman Antonio Lastre 6-1, 6-3 at the #5 spot.

MSU's 37th-ranked Ivan Bjelica responded with a 6-4, 6-2 win over VU's 75th-ranked Preston on court #1, knotting the match at 2-2. The Commodores came back to take a 3-2 advantage when James Moye topped MSU's Necajevs 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 on court #6. Meanwhile on court #4, MSU's Farlow rallied for a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over VU's Dufaux, evening the score at 3-3.

The attention would then focus to a fierce battle in the decisive match on court #2 between MSU's 50th-ranked Frayssinoux and Vandy's Cromydas. Frayssinoux took the first set 7-6(6) in a tiebreaker for the early advantage. Cromydas would then respond in the second set, taking it 6-3. Despite breaking serve twice in the final set and having two opportunities for a third break late in the set, Frayssinoux could not hang on as Cromydas fought back for a 7-5 win.

With the loss, State falls to 31-9 in the series with Vanderbilt dating back to 1969. Bjelica won his fourth straight at the #1 position while the tandem of Doerr and Stump moved to 6-2 on the year at the #3 spot.

State will return home next weekend as they Bulldogs face LSU Friday, April 4 followed by a meeting with Arkansas Sunday, April 6.

Women's Golf
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State women's golf squad will continue its spring schedule Monday and Tuesday this week as they travel to Stockbridge, Ga. to compete in the John Kirk/Lady Panther Intercollegiate. Hosted by Georgia State University, the two-day, 36 hole tournament will be held at the Eagle's Landing Country Club.

The Lady Bulldogs will travel with senior Julia Huh, sophomores Suzanne Stanley and Gina Sharp along with freshmen Mallory Batson and Erika Thornton. Batson currently leads the team in stroke average this season with a 76.61. The Gadsden, Ala., native has led MSU in the past two tournaments.

"The team looks forward to going to Georgia State's event for the first time," said MSU head coach Christi Sanders. "We have not seen the golf course but do expect a tight, hilly course that will challenge the entire field. On the practice round we will map out the course the best we can as to our strengths to prepare for the start of the tournament."

The Lady Bulldogs will join 14 other teams in the field. Teams include Augusta State, East Tennessee State, Miami, Campbell, Maryland, host-Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Jacksonville State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Memphis, Western Carolina, Richmond and Xavier.

Monday's first round will get underway at 7:30 a.m. CT on holes #1 and #10. Tuesday's final round will follow the same format.

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