News from MSU Media Relations--April 12

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 24th-ranked Mississippi State softball team returns to action this weekend, traveling to Columbia, S.C., for a three-game Southeastern Conference series with the South Carolina Gamecocks. The series kicks off Saturday with a doubleheader before concluding with a single game on Sunday. First pitch both days is set for noon CST.

All three games of the weekend series will be broadcast live on MSU's campus radio station, WMSV 91.1. The broadcasts can also be heard online at

The two teams have met 36 times prior in school history, with the Gamecocks holding a slim 20-16 lead in the series. MSU, however, has won the last three meetings and seven of the last eight.

State enters the weekend with a 32-15 overall mark and 6-10 record in league play. USC stands at 20-15 on the year with a 7-7 SEC mark. MState is entering the weekend looking to snap a four-game losing skid which included three losses to third-ranked Florida and a 2-1 setback to Mississippi Tuesday night at the M&F Bank Fastpitch Classic in Ridgeland, Miss.

The Bulldog offense will be facing a USC squad that claimed a two-game sweep of Auburn last weekend behind the pitching of Melissa Hendon, who earned SEC Pitcher of the Week accolades.

Bulldog sophomore Chelsea Bramlett will look to continue her outstanding season at the plate. The Cordova, Tenn., native, who was named one of the 25 finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award earlier this week, leads State's offense with a .449 average, 40 runs scored and 38 stolen bases. Bramlett's stolen-base mark is the third-best in single-season school history, eight back of the school record she set last season.

As a team, State is hitting at a .303 clip which is good for fourth in the league. Behind Bramlett's stellar numbers, senior Courtney Bures leads the Dogs in RBI (31) and doubles (10) while hitting at a .371 clip

. In the circle, junior Kelsey Nurnberg has won a team-leading 15 games while striking out 81 over 145 and two-thirds innings. Freshman Misty Flesher has added 13 victories while leading the team with 88 strikeouts compared to just 21 walks in 113 and two-thirds innings.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State track teams head to Oxford on Saturday, April 12, to compete in the Ole Miss Invitational. The event is being held at the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex on the UM campus as part of their Red-Blue weekend activities.

Other teams slated to participate in the meet are Alabama State, Allen County CC, Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas State, Bevill State, Bradley, Christian Brothers, Harding, Hines CC, Illinois, Jackson State, Memphis, Mississippi Valley State, Murray State, Notre Dame, Rhodes College, Rust College, Samford, Southern Illinois, St. Louis, Tulane, UAB, Wallace State and West Alabama.

After a strong showing at the Texas Relays, the men's track team heads into the weekend with a tenth-place ranking in the latest USTFCCA Division I Outdoor National poll after not being ranked in the preseason poll. The Bulldogs have already had 10 individuals and both the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams qualify for the Mideast Regional set to take place in Fayetteville, Ark. on May 30-31.

On the women's side, junior Marrissa Harris and sophomore Bridgett Rose have qualified in the 100-meter hurdles, while sophomore Wendy Copeland and junior Priscilla Gaines have qualified in the long jump.

Action kicks off at 10 a.m. with the men's hammer throw and women's javelin. The running events begin at noon with the women's 5,000-meter run. The gates at the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex open at 8:30 a.m.

Live stats from the meet can be followed at

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team will conclude its regular season slate Saturday, as it travels to Oxford, Miss., to face arch rival and seventh-ranked Mississippi. Match time at UM's Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center is set for 11 a.m.

State (8-10, 2-8 Southeastern Conference) will be trying to stop a five match losing skid in conference play. The Bulldogs are coming off a pair close losses this past weekend against Arkansas and LSU to close out its home schedule. After notching a pair of singles wins this past weekend, 26th-ranked senior Ivan Bjelica has upped his SEC record to 7-2 and has notched 15 overall wins this spring. Bjelica has won three straight, all against ranked opponents at the #1 position. Senior Philippe Frayssinoux, ranked 57th nationally, currently leads the team with 23 overall singles wins and 12 doubles victories.

Mississippi enters Saturday's contest with a 17-4 overall record, 8-2 in the SEC. The Rebels have won five straight and recently clinched the SEC West title. UM is led by 14th-ranked senior Matthias Wellermann and 30th-ranked senior Erling Tveit. Wellermann is 21-11 this season while Tveit is 18-10.

"Obviously, this will be a big challenge for us," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "They have a great team and will be ready. We just have to have great energy and play our best tennis of the year to have a chance."

UM has won 20 straight in the series including a matchup earlier this season at the River Hills Cup. Last season in Starkville, the Rebels claimed a 6-1 victory over State. Since 1969, MSU is 22-40 against the Rebels.

Following Saturday's match, MSU will prep for the SEC Championships which will be held April 17-20 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 71st-ranked Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis team closes out its 2008 regular season at home this weekend, hosting 52nd-ranked in-state rival Mississippi on Saturday, April 12. Match time with the Lady Rebels is slated for a 1 p.m. CT start at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus.

MSU enters Saturday's action with a 7-11 overall record and 0-10 in Southeastern Conference play. MSU dropped Wednesday's matchup with the Tigers of LSU 5-1. MSU's Valeriya Makarycheva claimed the lone point for State by claiming victory in a three-set match. Mississippi State is led by Junior Martina Banikova and 112th-ranked senior Renee Joseph.

Mississippi (6-14, 2-8 SEC) comes into the match off a weekend where they posted a 4-3 upset victory at #15 Arkansas and suffered a 6-1 loss to #30 LSU. Leading the Lady Rebs is freshman Karen Nijssen who currently ranks 99th in the country in singles.

Sunday's meeting will serve as the 50th all-time between the two programs. Mississippi holds a 44-5 record against MSU while posting a 17-2 record in matches held in Starkville. In their last meeting last season in Oxford, MSU was defeated 4-1 at Mississippi.

Joseph and teammate Tatiana Feit will be honored during the match, which will be their final contest in the Maroon and White.

Following Saturday's battle, head coach Tracy Lane and the Lady Bulldogs will be back in action Thursday, April 17, when they compete in the opening round of the 2008 Southeastern Conference Championship, being hosted by Auburn University April 17-20 in Auburn, Ala.

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