News from MSU Media Relations--January 16

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Baseball, Men's Basketball and Men's Tennis.

Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - New Mississippi State University baseball coach John Cohen will be the featured speaker at the 12th annual "First Pitch/Meet the Team" baseball celebration Thursday, February 19 on the MSU campus.

Tickets for the event are $30 each and are available through the MSU Athletic Ticket Office (662-325-2600) in the Bryan Athletic Administration Building. "First Pitch" tickets can also be purchased online at the official MSU Athletics Department web site, www.MStateAthletics.com.

Cohen, an All-SEC outfielder during his collegiate playing career at Mississippi State (1988-90), became MSU's 16th head coach for baseball last June. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native, regarded as one of college baseball's top offensive minds, embarks on his 18th season as a collegiate coach this spring, his 10th as a head coach. He previously served as head baseball coach at Northwestern (La.) State (1998-2001) and at SEC Eastern Division rival Kentucky (2004-08), where he guided the Wildcats to national prominence.

His 2006 UK edition registered SEC baseball's initial worst-to-first finish, posting a school-best 44-win season, capturing Kentucky's first SEC baseball title, and advancing UK to NCAA postseason play for the first time since 1993. For his efforts, Cohen was honored as the national coach of the year.

During his playing days at Mississippi State, Cohen was part of the most successful three-year span in MSU's storied baseball history. The Baseball Bulldogs, 148-46 over that span, advanced to NCAA postseason play each season, setting the school mark with 54 wins during State's 1989 SEC championship season and concluding the 1990 campaign competing in the NCAA College World Series.

This year's "First Pitch" event will be held in the spacious Palmeiro Center adjacent to Dudy Noble Field. The baseball celebration begins at 6 p.m. with a buffet-style meal in the Bryce Griffis Boardroom. Members of the 2009 MSU baseball team will be on hand for an autograph session in the Palmeiro Center prior to the 6:30 p.m. start of the program, which also includes a formal introduction of the 2009 Mississippi State Baseball Bulldogs.

Cohen joins an impressive array of guest speakers for MSU's "First pitch" event. That group includes former MSU baseball standouts Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, David "Boo" Ferriss", Alex Grammas, Burke Masters, Jonathan Papelbon, Jay Powell, Nat Showalter, Bobby Thigpen and Dan Van Cleve, best-selling author and MSU alumnus John Grisham and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda.

The Baseball Bulldogs launch their 119th season Feb. 20-22, welcoming the University of North Florida and Northern Illinois to Dudy Noble Field for the three-day, six-game BankFirst Baseball Challenge. MSU is scheduled to play 32 regular season games at Dudy Noble Field, all included in the 2009 baseball season ticket package available online and through the MSU Athletic Ticket Office.


Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Fresh off its 83-74 dusting of Alabama on Wednesday night, Mississippi State looks to push its four-game winning streak to five at 7 p.m. on Saturday when Vanderbilt visits Humphrey Coliseum in a game televised by Fox Sports South.

The Bulldogs (12-5, 2-0) have had their way at home with the Commodores (12-4, 1-1) in recent years, winning seven straight dating back to 1993 and nine out of the last 10.

Last year, however, Vandy claimed a thrilling 86-85 overtime victory in Nashville.

Mississippi State, which is 9-2 at home this season, is looking for its second five-game winning streak of the year. The Bulldogs, who are led in scoring (12.9) and rebounding (9.8) by junior All-SEC forward Jarvis Varnado, opened the season with five-consecutive wins before losing to Washington State in the Legends Classic in Newark, N.J.

State, which is attempting to claim its fourth-straight win in televised games after losing its first four, is also vying for its second-consecutive 3-0 start in SEC play.

Saturday could also be another milestone evening for 11th-year Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. Already the winningest coach in school history with 220 victories, a win against Vandy would be Stansbury's 90th in league play, which would also be a school record. He's currently tied with former MSU coach Richard Williams with 89.

Saturday marks the last home game the Bulldogs until Jan. 31 when in-state rival Ole Miss pays a visit. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs travel to LSU, followed by another road trip to Georgia next Saturday. MSU is off on Jan. 28.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's men's tennis team will open the 2009 spring campaign this weekend, January 16-19, at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships in Lexington, Ky.

State will send five players into singles competition at the event, including senior Ryan Farlow, sophomores Antonio Lastre and Tanner Stump, and true freshmen Louis Cant and Daniel Sanchez. In doubles, Cant and Stump will pair for State, along with the duo of Lastre and Sanchez.

Competition begins Friday with one round of singles and two rounds of doubles.

Following this weekend's action, State's men will begin preparation for the start of the 2009 dual match season, which will commence Jan. 30 when the Bulldogs meet Southern Cal in the first round of the ITA National Indoor Championships in Los Angeles, Calif.


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