COLUMBIA, S.C. - Mississippi State got a pair of stellar pitching performances from Misty Flesher and Kelsey Nurnberg as the 24th-ranked Bulldog softball team swept a pair of games from South Carolina 1-0 and 3-1 Saturday afternoon at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C.
The Bulldogs move to 34-15 on the year and 8-10 in Southeastern Conference play. South Carolina dropped to 20-17, 7-9 in league play with the two losses.
Flesher improved to 14-7 on the campaign as she allowed five hits and struck out four in the complete-game shutout in game one. Nurnberg clinched the sweep as she allowed a run on six hits with five strikeouts to improve to 16-7 on the season.
"We got great pitching from Kelsey and Misty today," MState head coach Jay Miller said. "Kelsey let a change-up get away from her, but she dominated the rest of the way after giving up the home run. Our defense did a great job, and our offense scratched across enough runs to win a pair of games. We managed our at-bats better today than we have. I was pleased with the way we played today. Brittany Bell had a big hit and catch for us. We came in looking to win an SEC series on the road, and now we want to take advantage of the opportunity to get a series sweep."
After enduring a one hour, 22-minute rain delay following the fourth inning of the series opener, State scored the game's only run in the top of the fifth inning. Back-to-back singles by Sammie Jo Bailey and Hayle Guess, who went 2-for-3 in the game and 3-for-7 on the afternoon, got the offense going. Jessie Bailey, who was 2-for-2 with a sacrifice in game one, then dropped a bunt and reached as Sammie Jo Bailey beat the throw to third.
Sammie Jo Bailey was thrown out at home on a Lindsay Hunley ground ball, but Brittany Bell delivered a one-out single that dropped just over the glove of USC second baseman Ashton Payne and scored Guess to give MSU the 1-0 lead.
Down to their final three outs, the Gamecocks threatened with a lead-off double to left by Jessica Josker. Flesher, however, got a pop-out to first, a ground-out to short and a strikeout to seal the MSU victory.
Unlike the opening game, the Bulldog offense struck early, taking advantage of three Gamecock errors to plate three runs in the first. Chelsea Bramlett drew a lead-off walk, and Ali Bainbridge reached on a bouncer to second that Payne was unable to field. Both runners stole third and second, respectively, and Bramlett scored as the throw by USC catcher P.J. Fulmer to third bounced out of play.
Bainbridge put State up 2-0 as she scored on a Courtney Bures fly ball to shallow right that bounced off the glove of the second baseman Payne. Bures, who advanced to second on the error, scored on a Guess single to center field to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.
USC picked up its first run of the series in the bottom of the second as Jill Semento hit her fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to left, to lead off the second. Josker followed with a base hit, but Nurnberg got a pop-out to Bramlett and two strikeouts to end the threat.
Nurnberg stifled USC the rest of the way, holding the Gamecocks to just six hits over the final five innings.
The Bulldogs will go for the series sweep Sunday in a game set for a noon CST first pitch. The series finale will be carried live on WMSV 91.1 and online at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.
Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State track and field teams grabbed seven new regional qualifying marks, despite battling the cold and windy conditions on Saturday, April 12, at the Ole Miss Invitational in Oxford, Miss. The event was held at the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex.
"We had a pretty good day," said MSU Head Coach Al Schmidt. "The big ones were Jamil Hubbard qualifying in the 400, Bridgett Rose improved on her hurdle time (100-meter hurdles) and Kendall May got his 100 meter time down. Those were great performances. Another group qualified in the men's 4x400-meter relay. All-in-all, it was a good day. Lydia had personal best in the 5000-meter run. Priscilla Gaines had a season-best in the 200. It was cold and wind, so it was difficult running. Golden had a good day in the 800-meter run. He got another qualifying time. In every race we ran we were right in the front."
Junior Gabrielle Dillon ran a season-best 12.00 in the finals of the 100-meter dash to take fifth place in the event after advancing out of the preliminaries. In 200-meter dash action, junior Priscilla Gaines ran a personal-best 24.19, finishing in second place, collegiately. In the 5000-meter run, MSU took three out of the top five spots in the race. The freshmen trio of Sarah Hammes captured second (17:48.41), Simone Domingue took third (17:59.45) and Lydia Chebii ran a personal-best 18:25.87. Sophomore Bridgett Rose took first place in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles with a regional-qualifying and personal best time of 13.68 to advance to the finals to notch second place.
In women's field events, junior Dorothy Youmans jumped a personal-best five feet, seven inches to grab third place in the high jump. Junior Janelle Finley sprung her way into third place with a jump of 18-11 ¼ in the long jump. Both junior Antrese Banks and sophomore LaTisha Rodgers both established new season-best throws in the shot put portion of the invitational.
Sophomore Kendall May improved on his 100-meter dash, finishing in second place with a personal-best and regional-qualifying time of 10.39. Senior Jamil Hubbard pulled double duty competing in both the 200 (21.06) and 400-meter dashes (46.96), establishing new personal-bests and regional-qualifying times. Junior John Bailey finished in third, collegiately, with a time of 47.41. Senior Golden Coachman picked up his second 800-meter run regional qualifying standard with his first-place time of 1:49.23. Freshman Ben Blakenship ran in the 1500-meter run, completing the race in 3:55.91 to finish in second place. Freshman Emanuel Mayers grabbed his second 400-meter hurdle regional qualifying mark with a second place finish in the event with a time of 52.32. In the 3000-meter steeplechase, sophomore Daniel Simpkins completed the race in 9:35.71, good for first place.
In relay action, MSU qualified a new combination of the 4x400-meter relay with Hubbard, senior Chris Woods, Coachman and Mayers. The quartet earned first place for their regional qualifying time of 3:08.47.
In men's field event action, junior Allen Cassell jumped 6-02 ¾ in the high jump, while junior Darryl Brady grabbed third place in the pole vault with a mark of 14-01 ¼.
Both squads will prepare for a busy week next week with part of the athletes competing at the Mt. SAC Invitational in Walnut Grove, Calif. on April 18-20, while the others will take part in the Georgia Invitational in Athens, Ga. on April 19.
OXFORD, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team made a valiant effort in an upset bid at #7 Mississippi Saturday afternoon, but eventually fell 4-3 in the final regular season match for both teams. The Bulldogs fell to 8-11 overall and 2-9 in Southeastern Conference play.
State fell behind early to the Rebels, (18-4, 9-2 SEC) dropping the doubles point. First off the courts was UM's doubles team of Jakob Klaeson and Tucker Vorster as they topped MSU's pair of Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump 8-2 on court #3. The Rebel pair of Matthias Wellermann and Robbye Poole clinched the point with an 8-6 victory over MSU's Ryan Farlow and Pjotrs Necajevs at the #2 position. At the #1 spot, State's team of Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux dropped an 8-6 decision to Jonas Berg and Erling Tveit.
UM would extend its lead early when singles began. The Rebels took a 2-0 lead as UM's Berg defeated MSU's Farlow 6-4, 6-0 on court #3. On court #5, Mississippi's Klaeson topped MSU's Artem Kuznetsov 6-2, 6-4 to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead.
From that point, the match would tighten significantly. Three of the remaining four matches would be decided in the third set. On court #4, MSU's Doerr fell 6-1 in the first set to UM's Norberg. Despite a two-break lead in the second set, Doerr would ultimately fall in a second set tiebreaker 7-6(5) to Norberg giving the clinching point to UM.
MSU would respond, winning the remaining three matches on court. The first point for State came from freshman Antonio Lastre as he downed UM's Vorster 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 on court #6. MSU's 57th-ranked Frayssinoux followed by defeating UM's 46th-ranked Poole 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 on court #2. On court #1, State's 26th-ranked Bjelica rallied to defeat 30th-ranked Tveit 4-6, 7-5, 1-0(3) in a supertiebreaker.
With his win on court #1, Bjelica won his fourth straight, all coming against ranked opponents. Frayssinoux won his second straight and notched a career best for wins in a season with 24. Lastre snapped a three-match losing skid with his win on court 6. With the loss, State dropped its 21st straight to UM.
MSU will next travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the SEC Championships. First round action will get underway Thursday, April 17.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Despite a pair of singles victories, the 71st-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team fell to #52 Mississippi 5-2 Saturday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus to close out the 2008 regular season. The Lady Bulldogs dropped to 7-12 overall with the loss and 0-11 in league play. Mississippi improved to 7-14, 3-8.
Mississippi took the early lead with a sweep of doubles play. On court No. 3, UM's Soledad Podlipnik and Preethi Subramanian claimed an 8-5 victory over State's Valeriya Makarycheva and DeAndra Saddler. Then, on court No. 1, MSU's Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers fell to the 32nd-ranked tandem of Nika Koukhartchouk and Karen Nijssen 8-6. To finish doubles play, the UM duo of Mimi Renaudin and Laura van de Stroat defeated State's Radka Ferancova and Renee Joseph 9-8(3) at No. 2.
Mississippi took a 2-0 match lead when, on court No. 1, Nika Koukhartchouk bested State's Banikova 6-2, 6-3. State would then cut the lead to 2-1 with a 6-4, 6-3 victory by Ferancova over van de Stroat on court No. 3.
Then, UM's 99th-ranked Karen Nijssen posted a 6-3, 6-4 victory over State's 112th-ranked Renee Joseph at the No. 2 position to make the team score 3-1, Lady Rebels. The back-and-forth scoring continued as State would trim the score to 3-2 with Makarycheva defeating UM's Soledad Podlipnik 7-5, 6-4 on court No. 5.
The match clincher would come at No. 6, where UM's Renaudin held off MSU's Tatiana Feit 7-6(2), 7-5 in a tight affair. Mississippi would finish off the match with Subramanian posting a 6-3, 6-4 win at the No. 4 position over State's de Villiers.
Head coach Tracy Lane and the Lady Bulldogs will be back in action this Thursday, April 17, when they will face 25th-ranked Tennessee in the opening round of the 2008 Southeastern Conference Championship, being hosted by Auburn. MSU and UT will square off in Thursday's first round at 2 p.m. CT on the AU campus.