TEMPE, Ariz. - No. 25 Mississippi State had its outstanding 2008 season come to a close Saturday evening, dropping a 7-4 decision to No. 23 Hawaii in the semifinal of the 2008 NCAA Tempe (Ariz.) Regional. The Bulldogs forced the re-match after scoring six runs in the fifth inning en route to an 8-3 win that eliminated Stony Brook from the tournament at Farrington Stadium.
The Bulldogs end the season with a 41-22 mark, the second-most wins in school history. State, which advanced to an NCAA Regional for the seventh time and fifth in Jay Miller's six seasons as head coach, set the single-season school batting average record (.311) while breaking the stolen base record for the second straight year with 124 in 145 attempts.
"This is the best team we've had in my six seasons as head coach," Miller said. "We are getting the program where we want it to be, and I hope we continue to get better and improve on this season. We got some great leadership from our seniors this season, and our younger players gained some valuable experience which will help us down the road."
Senior Hayle Guess paced State's 12-hit attack against SBU, going 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Freshman Ali Bainbridge collected her second multiple-hit game of the tournament, going 2-for-4 and driving in a run.
Senior Courtney Bures sparked State's offense against Hawaii, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Guess, Bainbridge and Bramlett each added a pair of hits in that game as well. Bramlett also stole two bases in the game, matching the school record 46 she set last season as a freshman.
The Seawolves, who ended their season 31-24-1, struck with a run in the first on Jade Clare's two-out single. Stony Brook maintained the lead until the fifth, when State's offense claimed the lead for good with six runs.
With one out in the inning, Jessie Spain and Brittany Bell reached on consecutive singles. Nakita Boyce scored Spain with the tying run on a bouncer that deflected into center field. Bell put MSU ahead for the first time as she scored on a Chelsea Bramlett base hit. Bramlett's base hit moved Boyce to third, and she scored as Guess dropped a bunt that SBU starter Alyssa Struzenberg had no play on.
Bainbridge extended the MState lead to 4-1 as she lined a single into center field, scoring Bramlett from second base and moving Guess to third. Guess and Bainbridge extended the lead to 6-1 as they scored on Bailey's base hit to center which chased Struzenberg from the game.
The six-run burst proved plenty for the Bulldog pitchers, as Misty Flesher earned her 20th win of the season after allowing a run on six hits with five strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings. Junior Kelsey Nurnberg hurled a third of an inning, giving up two runs on a pair of hits with a strikeout.
"I was very proud of the way we played this weekend and all year," Miller said. "You never want the season to end like this. It's kind of bittersweet. We competed well and couldn't have asked for anything more from our offense. Misty gave us a very tough, gutsy performance today."
Struzenberg allowed the six runs on nine hits over four and two-thirds innings to fall to 24-10.
After the Seawolves added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3, State added two more runs in the top of the seventh as Guess blasted her seventh home run of the season, a line shot over the left field wall off SBU reliever Casey Jacobs, which scored Bramlett after she led off the inning with a walk. The seven home runs are the most in a season for the Moss Point, Miss., native.
Guess staked MSU to an early lead in the nightcap against the Rainbow Wahine, lacing a two-out double down the line in right and scoring on a Bures single to center field. The lead was short-lived, however, as Hawaii plated three in the home half of the opening frame on Kate Robinson's three-run home run over the scoreboard in left field, her 21st of the year.
Robinson picked up the win to move to 18-9 on the year. She gave up four runs on nine hits with two strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings. Jessica Morton tossed the final two and a third innings to earn her fourth save of the year.
After UH extended the lead to 4-1 with a Tanisha Milca solo home run in the second, State cut into the deficit in the third as Bell belted her second home run of the season, a solo shot out left field. Hawaii gained the run back in the home half of the inning as Brandi Peiler drove a home run over the left-field wall.
State cut the lead to a single run at 5-4 with two runs in the visitor's half of the fifth inning. With one out in the inning, Bell drew a walk and moved to third on Boyce's line drive double off the wall in right field. Bramlett then laid down a bunt, and Bell beat Robinson's throw to the plate to make it a 5-3 game. After Boyce was put out on a fielder's choice at the plate, Bures drove a single through the right side that scored Bramlett and cut the lead to a single run.
Just as in Friday's opener, MSU couldn't keep Hawaii's bats silenced. The Rainbow Wahine answered State's two-run fifth with two of their own in the home half of the frame on Clare Warwick's two-run blast, the team's fourth round-tripper of the game.
After earning the win against Stony Brook, Flesher suffered the loss in the second game to finish her rookie season with an MSU freshman second-best 20-10 mark. The Lone Grove, Okla., native allowed the seven runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in the complete-game effort.
Track & Field
AUBURN, Ala. - The Mississippi State track and field teams faired extremely well at the Southeastern Conference Track and Field Championships on Saturday. On the final day of qualifying for event finals, MSU had seven athletes make the cut in their respective events.
"We had a great day today," said MSU head coach Al Schmidt. "Three of our four young men will run in the 400-meter finals and Kendall (May) had a real good showing in the 100. Add that with the two guys in the 1500, and we have a shot at doing real well tomorrow.
"Marrissa (Harris) did a great job in the long jump and will compete in the 100-meter hurdle finals. Dorothy (Youmans) scored in the high jump. This is one of the best days we've had at this meet since I've been here. We just need to close it out tomorrow."
State will send three runners to the men's 400-meter dash finals with O'Neal Wilder (46.46) and Jamil Hubbard (46.59) finishing second and third, respectively and John Bailey (46.67) taking fifth. All three times are regional qualifying marks with Wilder's and Bailey's setting new personal bests for the individuals. Kendall May ran a regional qualifying and personal best 10.35 seconds in the 100-meter dash to take fifth in the opening round.
Of the four runners competing in the men's 1500-meter run, the Bulldogs had two advance to tomorrow's final and all four competitors set personal bests in the event. Matthew Cameron (3:48.40) and Brandon Smith (3:50.92) finished 11th and 12th respectively and take to the track tomorrow for the final. Michael Chapa (3:51.35) and Ben Blakenship (3:51.45) finished 13th and 14th, narrowly missing the final.
State's men had three runners in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Jonathan Rono finished ninth, with Pad Judd following in the 10th position. Daniel Simpkins set a new personal best in the event. Through three days of competition, the Bulldogs are 10th with six points but have an opportunity to break through with tomorrow's events.
The Lady Bulldogs' third day scoring came from Dorothy Youmans' 5 feet, five inch clearance in the high jump to finish eighth. Junior Marrissa Harris continued her hot streak, finishing fifth in the long jump with a regional qualifying leap of 20-01 ½.
Harris also finished fourth to qualify for the women's 100-meter hurdles final with a regional qualifying time of 13.42 seconds. Bridgett Rose also regional qualified in the event, running 13.91 but did not advance to the final. With nine events scored, the women's squad is ninth with 20 points.
The final day of the 2008 Championships begins tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. CT from the Hutsell-Rosen Track on the University of Auburn campus.
AUBURN, Ala. - Mississippi State senior Jamil Hubbard ran 45.24 seconds to win the men's 400-meter dash finals on the final day of the 2008 Southeastern Conference Track and Field Championships. Hubbard's time is a personal best, regional qualifying mark, a Hutsell-Rosen Track record and the fourth fastest time in school history. Hubbard becomes the second Bulldog to win the event at the conference meet, following Jude Monye in 1995.
Freshman O'Neal Wilder took second in the event, running a regional qualifying and personal best 45.54 seconds. His mark ranks fifth on the all-time list.
"We came up short in a few events, but it was a tremendous day for Jamil Hubbard," said MSU head coach Al Schmidt. "We had some great performances today. Right now, O'Neal Wilder is the top junior in the world in the 400-meter dash. The future is really bright for our women, too. We're going into the regional meet with good, strong quality on both sides."
In addition to Hubbard and Wilder, eight other Bulldogs scored on the final day along with both relays posting top eight finishes. John Bailey took seventh in the 400, running a regional time and personal best of 46.44. In the 800-meter run, Golden Coachman (1:48.26) and Chris Woods (1:48.71) posted regional qualifying marks to finish fourth and sixth, respectively.
The Bulldogs' 4x100-meter relay team of Kendall May, Bailey, Hubbard and Wilder ran a regional qualifying 39.42 to finish third. State's 4x400-meter relay squad of Woods, Hubbard, Emmanuel Mayers, and Wilder tallied a season-best and regional mark of 3:05.26.
All three Bulldogs competing in the 100-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles posted regional qualifying marks. In the 100, May ran 10.37 to take eight, while Mayers (51.35, seventh and a personal best) and Kyle Roberts (51.99, ninth) competed in the 400-meter hurdles. Bailey also ran in the 200-meter dash, where he finished eighth.
MSU had seven runners in the men's 5000-meter final. Of those seven, six set personal best. MSU's top finisher in the event was Ashenafi Arega (14:31.42), who finished 17th. Also setting personal bests were Robert Scribner, Adam Lenz, Brandon Smith, Pad Judd and Matthew Cameron.
Allen Cassell cleared six feet, eight and three quarter inches to take third in the high jump. Darryl Brady also scored in the event, jumping 6-06 ¾ to finish eighth. Overall, State's men scored 56.20 points to finish eighth, their best finish since 2005. Arkansas won with 131.50 points, followed by LSU (122), Tennessee (97.50), Florida (80), Auburn (78.20), Kentucky (72) and South Carolina (56.20) in the top seven. Alabama (46.20) took ninth with Georgia (43.40) and Mississippi (35) closing out the field.
State's women posted their best time of the season in the 4x100-meter relay, running a regional-qualifying 45.16. LaQuinta Aaron, Marrissa Harris, Bridgett Rose and Priscilla Gaines also posted the third fastest time in school history. Harris closed out her weekend scoring for MState in the 100-meter hurdles final. Harris ran a regional qualifying 13.28 to finish fourth.
State's women finished 11th with 28 points. LSU won the event with 157.50 points, followed by Florida (128), Arkansas (86.50), Tennessee (84) and Kentucky (83.50) in the top five. Mississippi (72) placed sixth with Auburn (65), South Carolina (42.50), Alabama (33) and Georgia (32) rounding out the top 10. Vanderbilt finished 12th with seven points.
For only the third time in school history, MSU posted a winner on both sides of the competition (2008 – Jamil Hubbard (400-meter dash) and Marrissa Harris (heptathlon); 2003 – Marquis Davis (100-meter dash) and Tiffany McWilliams (800 and 1500-meter runs); and 1989 – Festus Igbinoghene (triple jump) and Falilatu Ogunkoya (400-meter dash).
Next up for those individuals that have posted regional qualifying marks are the 2008 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships. The two day event runs May 30-31 at John McDonnell Field on the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - For just the third time in school history, the Mississippi State men's golf team advanced to the NCAA Championship as they finished fourth at the NCAA East Regional held at the Council Fire Golf Club in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Bulldogs fired a 278 in the final round Saturday and ended the 54-hole event with a season-best 838.
"We had a good week and everyone contributed all three days," said MSU head coach Clay Homan. "We started our round well but then hit a rough spot halfway through the day. However, our maturity and experience began to show as we played very well through the final nine holes to close out a good round."
The fourth-place finish marked the best by a State team in an NCAA Regional in five previous appearances. The 838 was also the best 54-hole score ever by a Bulldog team in Regional play.
Junior Noah Goldman led State as he finished tied for eighth, shooting a 6-under, 207 for the three day event. Josh Bevell had the best finish of his career as he shot a 2-under, 69 on Saturday and finished tied for 14th with a 208. Senior Josh Oller finished tied for 29th with a 211 after a 1-under 70 on Saturday. Matt Fast also carded a 1-under 70 on Saturday as he concluded tournament play with a 213 and finished tied for 38th. Junior Carlos Sainz shot an even-par 71 in the final round and finished tied for 84th.
Georgia won the team title, finishing the tournament with an 811. Augusta State wrapped up second place while UC-Irvine took third. Georgia's Russell Henley and UAB's Zach Sucher both finished 13-under par for the tournament to share individual honors. The pair edged the field by two strokes.
Held at the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Indiana, the 2008 NCAA Championship will take place May 28-30. In the field of 30 teams, State will join four other Southeastern Conference teams in the championship including Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.
"We look forward to going to the Championship for only the third time in school history," said Homan. "It will be special for us and we are excited about the opportunity."
MSU's last appearance came in 2000 when State finished seventh in the NCAA East Regional. The only other appearance in the championship for the Bulldogs came in 1991 when State advanced with a 10th-place finish in the East Regional.