News from MSU Media Relations--September 30

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Softball, Men's Basketball and Women's Golf.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State softball team claimed the eighth-highest team grade-point average in Division I softball on the 2008 Girls Got Game/NFCA All-Academic Teams list that was released Monday by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. The eighth-place standing puts State in the top 10 for the first time and matches South Carolina for tops among Southeastern Conference teams.

"We are very proud of our work both on the field and in the classroom," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "Our players have worked very hard academically and take a lot of pride in their work off the field. Our goal last season was to break into the top 10 in academics after coming close the past couple of years, so it's nice to see them achieve this honor."

Tennessee Tech topped the Division I standings, while the Bulldogs and DePaul were the only squads that in the top 10 that received national rankings on the field and in the classroom last season.

MState's top eight ranking continues a long tradition of academic success with the program. The Bulldogs have now finished in the top 18 of the list the past seven seasons, and individually, 31 State players have garnered NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete accolades a collective 59 times. Since 1997, Mississippi State has placed 133 players on academic honor rolls.

The 2008 Girls Got Game/NFCA Academic All-Americans will be announced later this year.

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State is one of four teams selected to serve as regional hosts for the 2008 Legends Classic, joining Washington State, Pittsburgh and Texas Tech.

The Bulldogs, under the direction of 11th-year coach Rick Stansbury, play North Alabama on Nov. 19 at Humphrey Coliseum before entertaining Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 22.

Then on Nov. 28, MSU travels to Newark, N.J., to face Washington State at 4:30 p.m. in the opening round of the championship bracket at the Prudential Center, while Texas Tech and Pittsburgh square off in the second game. The winners from each contest play for the title on Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m., while the other two go head-to-head in the 4:30 p.m. consolation outing.

Tickets for the championship rounds may be purchased through or at the Prudential Center Box Office.

Mississippi State and Washington State, both coming off NCAA Tournament appearances, have never met, while MSU's lone affair with Pittsburgh resulted in a 66-61 setback in the 2001 NIT. And if the Bulldogs were to face Texas Tech, it would mark the first meeting between the two.

Mississippi State finished 23-11 a year ago and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing a nail-biter to eventual runner-up Memphis, 77-74. The Bulldogs, who saw Stansbury become the school's all-time winningest coach last December, begin practice in preparation for the 2008-09 campaign on Oct. 17 and play Montevallo on Nov. 1 in exhibition action. The season opener is slated for Nov. 15 against Centenary at Humphrey Coliseum.

Women's Golf
COLUMBIA, Mo. - In her second collegiate career tournament, freshman Hannah Weathersby stands at two under par and fourth overall in the individual standings as Mississippi State's Lady Golfers finished the first day of action ranked fifth overall. Weathersby's first-round total of 71 stands as 10th best all-time at State after one round of play. Today's second round at the University of Missouri's Club at Old Hawthorne was shortened by nightfall, and four MSU golfers will join several other competitors in completing round two tomorrow morning.

State's young talent was apparent as sophomore Mallory Batson, the only MSU squad member to complete play in day one, finished nine strokes behind Weathersby with a total of 151 good for a tie for 17th place and fellow sophomore Erika Thornton stands at +13 with one hole remaining, tied for 34th overall. Juniors Gina Sharp and Suzanne Stanley rounded out State golfers on the day, as Sharp stands tied for 44th and Stanley completed MSU's first day of action in 89th.

"As a team, we had some big-number holes that inflated our team total," MSU head coach Christi Sanders said. "Mallory played well for the most part, but had a few misfortunes come her way. Hannah played a steady two rounds of golf, and has positioned herself nicely on the leaderboard."

Standing as the only two squads in the field hailing from the Southeastern Conference, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State claimed top five finishes in day one. With Arkansas-Little Rock standing atop the leaderboard with a team total of 593, Ole Miss is tied with host Missouri for second place at 22 strokes over par and five back from first. Princeton stands in fourth at 27 over par, while MSU's Lady Bulldogs are 32 over par at fifth. Julia Potter of Missouri currently places atop the individual standings at seven under par, three strokes ahead of second place.

Mississippi State's women golfers will conclude second-round action beginning at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, while the third and final round will begin at 8:30 a.m. in a shotgun format.

Gene's Page Top Stories