STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 23rd-ranked Mississippi State softball team continues its five game home stand this weekend, hosting third-ranked Florida in a three-game Southeastern Conference showdown beginning Saturday at the MSU Softball Field.
The Bulldogs and Gators open the series with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The second game of the doubleheader will be broadcast around the state of Florida on Cox Sports Television.
The two teams will close out the series with a Sunday meeting that is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch. All three of the conference games will be broadcast live on WMSV 91.1 and online at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.
State enters the weekend with a 32-11 mark and 6-7 record in SEC play after sweeping a mid-week doubleheader from Kentucky. MSU got a sacrifice fly from Chelsea Bramlett for a 1-0 win in the opener before pounding out an 8-0 victory to claim its second conference series sweep of the season.
Bramlett, a sophomore from Cordova, Tenn., has paced the State offense all season. She enters the weekend hitting .441 with a team-leading 40 runs scored to go along with two doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs. Bramlett has also stolen 36 bases in 38 attempts.
Senior Courtney Bures leads MSU with 31 RBIs while hitting at a .389 clip. Bures has scored 26 times while hitting a team-leading 10 doubles, a triple and three home runs. Another senior, Hayle Guess, paces the squad with five home runs while averaging .312 at the plate. The Moss Point native, who has hit a team-best four triples, matched her career long hit streak against the Wildcats as her base hit in the second game put her at 10 consecutive games with a hit.
While the Bulldog offense finally found its rhythm in the second game with the Wildcats, MSU pitchers kept UK out of the scoring column with a pair of three-hit shutouts. Freshman Misty Flesher and junior Kelsey Nurnberg picked up the victories Thursday night to move to 13-6 and 15-5, respectively.
Florida enters the weekend's series looking to remain atop the SEC Eastern Division standings. The Gators have jumped out to a 40-2 start to the season, including a 12-1 mark in conference action.
Ali Gardiner paces the team at the plate, hitting .386 with nine doubles, four home runs and 28 RBI. Mary Ratliff has hit a team-high eight home runs and driven in a UF-leading 35 runs while hitting at a .339 clip.
Stacey Nelson paces the Gators in the circle, sitting at 25-2 on the year with 212 strikeouts and a 0.85 earned-run average. Stephanie Brombac has tallied a perfect 13-0 start to the season with a 1.30 ERA.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - On the heels of participating in Friday's DiGiorno College All-Star Game in San Antonio, Texas, Mississippi State's all-SEC senior forward Charles Rhodes will next take his talents to Virginia to compete in next week's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
Beginning on Wednesday (April 9) in Portsmouth, Va., the four-day, 12-game tournament annually features 64 of the nation's top senior collegiate basketball standouts. In its 56th season of existence, this year's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament will be held at Churchland High School. Noted as the nation's oldest amateur basketball tournament, the P.I.T. is recognized by NBA and European scouts as the premier showcase for future professional players. The event is also the only tournament in which college seniors can compete and be evaluated by the National Basketball Association prior to the league's pre-draft camp in Orlando.
The leading scorer (17.4 ppg) and rebounder (7.8 rpg) this season for coach Rick Stansbury's 23-11 and SEC Western Division champion Bulldogs, Rhodes will play next week for the Holiday Inn-Portsmouth team. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound veteran will be teamed with Anthony King of Miami (Fla.), South Alabama's Demetric Bennett, Bo McCalebb of New Orleans, North Carolina State's Gavin Grant, Will Thomas of George Mason, Dayton's Brian Roberts, and Alex Harris of UC-Santa Barbara. The Holiday Inn-Portsmouth squad begins competition on Wednesday evening by taking on the Tidewater Sealants squad, featuring Jamar Butler of NIT champion Ohio State and Xavier's Josh Duncan.
Ranked among the SEC's top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocks (1.35 bpg) and field-goal percentage (.562) in 2007-08, Rhodes averaged 22.6 points and 9.2 rebounds an outing over his last nine contests this past year, including a career-high 34 points on 10-of-12 field goals and 14-of-18 free throws in the Bulldogs' first-round NCAA Tournament victory over Oregon at the Little Rock-hosted South Regional.
A three-time all-SEC selection and two-time finalist for the Cellular South Howell Trophy, Rhodes has concluded his 110-game MSU career ranked 11th on both the school's all-time scoring and rebounding charts with 1,451 career points and 691 career rebounds, respectively. The former Jackson Lanier High School product also owns Mississippi State's all-time standard with 183 career dunks, including a school-record 68 slams as a senior.
Other Southeastern Conference senior standouts scheduled to compete in next week's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament include Mykal Riley of Alabama, the Arkansas tandem of Sonny Weems and Darian Townes, Auburn's Quan Prowell, the Kentucky duo of Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley, Dwayne Curtis of Mississippi, and Tennessee's Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.
Tickets for next week's (April 9-12) Portsmouth Invitational Tournament are available through TicketMaster (757-671-8100) and the Willett Hall box office in Portsmouth (757-393-5460). Tickets can be purchased at $8 per night or $25 for all 12 games of the four-day tournament.
Track & Field
AUSTIN, Texas. - Mississippi State's 4x100-meter relay team and junior Marrissa Harris qualified regionally and advanced to the finals of their respective events on the third day of the Texas Relays. The relays conclude tomorrow in Austin, Texas at the Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.
The 4x100-meter relay squad of sophomore Kendall May, junior John Bailey, senior Jamil Hubbard and freshman O'Neal Wilder picked up their fourth NCAA regional qualifying standard in four tries with their time of 40.38 seconds to finish sixth in the preliminaries of the 4x100. The quartet advances to the finals and will compete again tomorrow at 2 p.m.
Harris ran a 13.60 in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing eighth in the preliminaries of the event. The Memphis-native also advanced to the finals and will contest the field again tomorrow at 2:45 p.m. Sophomore Bridgett Rose battled in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles, as well and finished 15th in 13.96.
May also ran in the 100-meter dash preliminaries, coming across the line in 10.71 to post a top 25 finish. Freshman Sarah Hammes took part in the 3000-meter steeplechase, tallying a new season-best time, while picking up a top 10 finish.
In the final contest of the night, the 4x1500-meter relay shined, taking second place with a time of 15:39.86. With their time, the unit of freshmen Matthew Cameron and Ben Blakenship and seniors Golden Coachman and Brandon Smith, now own the top time all-time at MSU in the 4x1500.
"The 4x100 qualifying was good," said MSU Head Coach Al Schmidt. "They did a good job there. The 4x1500-meter came in second. They ran well. The big leg of the day was Matthew Cameron. He did a good job. Marrissa (Harris) qualified in the hurdles. That is her second best time. We have big races tomorrow. It will be a big day tomorrow."
The maroon and white corps head into the final day of the Texas Relays, starting their day at 12:35 p.m. with the 4x200-meter relay.
To follow all the action from the final day of the Texas Relays from the Mike A. Myers Stadium at UT, go to www.texassports.com. Live results will be posted throughout the event. For video coverage of the Texas Relays, go to www.flotrack.org.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's men's tennis match with LSU slated for Friday afternoon on the MSU campus has been postponed due to the heavy storms expected to roll through the area throughout the day. The Bulldogs and Tigers will now meet at 11 a.m. CT Saturday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
State (8-8, 2-6 Southeastern Conference), ranked 49th nationally, is coming off a pair of heartbreaking 4-3 road losses at Kentucky and Vanderbilt last weekend. LSU (11-6, 4-4), ranked 16th, upset eighth-ranked Florida last Sunday and has won three of its last five matchups.
Bulldog seniors Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux lead the charge for MSU. Bjelica moved up to 26th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association's poll this past week while Frayssinoux is 57th. LSU is led by 47th-ranked Michael Venus and 118th-ranked Jan Zelezny.
Following Saturday's affair, the Bulldogs will close out their 2008 regular-season home slate Sunday, welcoming 47th-ranked Arkansas at 1 p.m. Bjelica and Frayssinoux will be honored during a Senior Day presentation.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 68th-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team's bid for an upset of #33 Louisiana State will have to wait until Wednesday, April 9, at 10 a.m. CT in Baton Rouge as rains suspended play midway through singles action Friday after a pair of attempts to complete the match amidst the heavy rains in the southeastern United States.
LSU posted a 3-0 lead and State led in two of the three contests yet to be decided when play was halted for the second time on the day, at 8:08 p.m. CT.
In hopes of finishing the match before the rain came, the match started Friday with singles play. LSU took a 1-0 lead with 18th-ranked Megan Falcon defeating Martina Banikova 6-0, 6-2 at the No. 1 position. Then, on court No. 3, the Lady Tigers would take a 2-0 lead as MSU's Radka Ferancova would fall to Hannah Robinson 6-1, 6-2.
After the first rain delay - which lasted roughly three hours - ended, LSU would then extend its lead to 3-0 when Mykala Hedberg completed a 6-2, 6-3 victory over 112th-ranked bulldog Renee Joseph at the No. 2 spot.
Play was then stopped soon after for the second and final time with three courts still in play and MSU leading in two of those affairs. Court No. 4 had State's Elna de Villiers up a set at 6-1, 1-4 over Tiger Nicole Kantor. On court No. 5, Lady Bulldog Valeriya Makarycheva was up 6-1, 4-6, 4-0 against LSU's Tiffany Tucker. At the No. 6 position, LSU's Staten Spencer was up on Tatiana Feit 7-5, 1-0 after taking a tight first-set decision.
Due to MSU's travel plans for its Sunday afternoon match at Arkansas, the match was officially postponed until 10 a.m. this Wednesday, April 9, with those three singles matches still in progress. Doubles matches will be played if necessary.
The Lady Bulldogs now travel to meet 14th-ranked Arkansas Sunday at 12 p.m. in Fayetteville, Ark.