STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 23rd-ranked Mississippi State softball team closes out the 2008 regular season this weekend as it travels to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas in a three-game Southeastern Conference series beginning Saturday at Lady Back Yard.
The series kicks off with a 1 p.m. doubleheader. Sunday's series finale is also slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch, with Arkansas honoring its seniors and the final game in Lady Back Yard that day. All three games will be broadcast live on WMSV 91.1 and online at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.
The Bulldogs enter the weekend series with a 39-17 record and 12-12 SEC mark. State split last weekend's two games with then-No. 10 Tennessee, securing no lower than the seven seed and no higher than the third seed in the 2008 SEC Tournament which begins next Thursday in Baton Rouge, La. The Lady'Backs (34-26, 6-19 SEC) head into the three-game set still fighting to secure the last spot in the conference tournament, which is currently occupied by Mississippi.
Freshman Misty Flesher will be looking to win her seventh straight game after picking up the victory in the Bulldogs' 2-1 win over UT last weekend. The Lone Grove, Okla., native has won the last three conference series openers for the Bulldogs, and she sits at 19-7 on the year with a 1.85 ERA and 106 strikeouts compared to just 30 walks.
Sophomore Chelsea Bramlett continues to pace MSU at the plate after returning to the line-up full-time against the Lady Vols. Bramlett brings a .443 average into the final series of the regular season, and the Cordova, Tenn., native also tops the team in hits (78), runs (44) and stolen bases (41). Her stolen-base mark ranks second in the conference and fifth nationally.
Courtney Bures has also given MState a boost offensively as her final collegiate season comes to an end. The Haymarket, Va., native, who became the school's all-time career leader in RBI two weeks ago, has a team second-best .395 average while topping the squad in doubles (12) and RBI (38) and standing second in home runs with four.
Senior Hayle Guess paces the team in home runs after hitting her sixth, which matches the season-best total she set last season, last weekend against Tennessee. On the season, Guess is hitting .325 with 34 RBI and 35 runs scored. Another player who had an outstanding weekend against UT was freshman Ali Bainbridge. Bainbridge delivered the walk-off hit in MSU's opening-game upset to highlight a 4-for-8, two-RBI, three-run weekend. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native looks to continue that pace this weekend after jumping her average to .315 on the year.
Arkansas has relied on the long ball much of the season. The Lady'Backs have hit a school-record 61 round-trippers, with Sandra Smith (.232) leading the way with 14. Leading hitter Kayla Johnson has contributed nine while hitting .335, and Miranda Dixon has 11 and a team-high 42 RBI. Samantha Buckner, a .300 hitter, has 10 home runs to her credit this season.
Dixon is one of UA's top pitchers this season, compiling a 12-11 record and 1.91 ERA. Katy Henry tops the squad in victories with a 17-12 record but has been struck for 96 runs, 73 earned, for a 2.70 ERA.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior outfielder Hayle Guess has been named to the 2008 Southeastern Conference Community Serice Team, the league office announced Thursday afternoon.
A three-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs, Guess has served the MSU campus and Starkville community in numerous capacities during her time on the State campus.
The Moss Point, Miss., native has served as president of the school's M-Club, a community service organization comprised of student-athletes, the past two years. As part of her M-Club presidential duties, Guess serves on Big Dawgs, a group of campus organization presidents that discuss issues pertaining to the MSU student body. In addition to serving on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' leadership team, Guess represents the Bulldog softball team on the Student Athletic Advisory Council.
"I am very proud of Hayle and all of her accomplishments," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "This is a great honor because she has been such a great representative for our team the past five years. Hayle is one of those athletes that you wish could stay in your program forever. She has put just as much work and effort into serving the community and the Mississippi State campus as she has softball. This is a very deserving honor for Hayle considering how much she has done for Mississippi State and the Starkville community."
Guess has helped organize and has participated in many community service projects. She has been instrumental in the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive and the ICS Head Start toy drive. She has also been involved on several occasions with Bully's Book Blitz, a reading program for local elementary students, and Girls Sports Day which teaches girls how to play sports.
An active participant in Ward Student Elementary's "Tail-gating" Party, which rewards students for their reading accomplishments, Guess has taken part in Dr. Seuss Day and Take A Kid to the Game among a number of other projects.
Guess is hitting .325 this season for the Bulldogs, who are 39-17 and 12-12 in SEC play. Guess leads the team with six home runs and four triples, and ranks second in RBI (34) and runs (35). Ranking in the top 10 in a number of the school's all-time career offensive lists, Guess has compiled a .303 career batting average with 25 doubles, 14 triples, 17 home runs, 106 RBI, 146 runs and 74 stolen bases.