News from MSU Media Relations--February 5

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen announced today the roles each of his staff members will assume as the Bulldog staff moves past the school's nationally-acclaimed signing day successes.

Les Koenning will serve as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and will be joined on the that side of the ball by Mark Hudspeth as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach and John Hevesy as running game coordinator and offensive line coach. Greg Knox will mentor the running backs, and Scott Sallach will coach the tight ends.

Coordinating the defense will be Carl Torbush, who will also coach the linebackers. David Turner will coach the defensive line and Melvin Smith will tutor the cornerbacks and nickels. Tony Hughes will serve as the team's recruiting coordinator as well as the safeties coach.

The team's administrative staff will include Reed Stringer as Director of Recruiting Operations, Rockey Felker as Director of Player Personnel/High School Relations and Jody Wright as Coordinator of Football Operations.

The football office also includes administrative assistants Nancy Covington, Jane Ballard, Angi Jabri and Susan Simmons as well as director of video services Brock Dulaney.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Scott Sallach, a veteran of more than 15 years coaching on the collegiate level, has been added to the Mississippi State football staff, head coach Dan Mullen announced today. The hire is pending approval by the Board of Trustees, Institutions of Higher Learning.

Sallach coached at Princeton University for six seasons (2003-08), Dartmouth College for five seasons (1998-2002), Monmouth for three seasons (1995-97) and Hamilton College for one season (1994). At Princeton, Sallach coached the Tigers' wide receivers and quarterbacks and added the title pass game coordinator in 2008.

Before coaching at Princeton, Sallach had been at Dartmouth for five seasons, coaching the wide receivers and assisting with the special teams, specializing in kickoffs and kickoff returns.

Sallach who, along with Mullen graduated from Ursinus College in 1994 with a bachelor of science degree in exercise and sport science, took his first football job at Hamilton College in 1994 as an assistant coach. After one season there, he spent three years at Monmouth as an assistant coach. In both positions, Sallach was responsible for coaching wide receivers.

Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State sophomore guard/forward Mary Kathryn Govero has been named to the ESPN the Magazine Women's Basketball Academic All-District Second Team, as announced today by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

The Clinton, Miss.-native touts a 3.86 cumulative GPA as a Physical Education major with a Teaching and Coaching emphasis. Govero was a Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team selection and a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll last season. Govero has started all 22 games for Mississippi State this season, averaging 6.8 points and 3.2 rebounds a contest.

First team selections included Jada Frazier (New Orleans), Amy Beggin (New Mexico), Amber Jackson (North Texas), Kathleen Nash (Texas) and Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma). Joining Govero on the second team is Jordan Murphee (Texas Tech), Janae Voelker (Oral Roberts), Megan Byford (Oklahoma State) and Ryba Pawlaczyk (Texas-San Antonio).

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi State softball team opens the 2009 slate this weekend, hosting Louisiana-Monroe, Iona and Kennesaw State in the Bulldog Round-Robin at the MSU Softball Field.

State takes on Kennesaw State Friday at 3 p.m. before facing Louisiana-Monroe and Iona at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, on Saturday. The Bulldogs close out the opening weekend with a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday.

Admission to all home softball games is free, and Bulldog Club members can have their Dog Tags scanned 30 minutes prior to each Bulldog home game and 15 minutes into each contest. Dog Tag scanning will only be available for the first game of State's Saturday twin bill.

State hosts the Bulldog Round-Robin for the sixth-straight season, and the Bulldogs have compiled a 23-2 all-time mark in the tournament, including a 5-0 mark a year ago.

MState will meet Iona for the first time, but faces Kennesaw State for the second time and Louisiana-Monroe for the 16th time. The Maroon and White's only other meeting with KSU came at the 2007 Round-Robin, with State taking a 6-0 win. The Bulldogs hold a 9-6 series edge over the Warhawks, but the two teams have not met since the 2001 season when State prevailed 8-5.

The Bulldogs enter the campaign seeking the program's eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and sixth under seventh-year MState head coach Jay Miller. The NFCA Hall of Fame inductee enters the year with a 217-164 record in Starkville, placing him three victories shy of matching former Bulldog head coach Kathy Arendsen for the most wins in school history.

Miller's contingent returns seven starters and all three pitchers from MSU's 2008 NCAA Tournament squad that finished a program second-best 41-22. The Dogs bring back junior catcher Chelsea Bramlett, who led the team with the second-highest batting average (.450) in school history. A Preseason All-SEC and USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list honoree, the two-time all-American ranks second in career batting average. The Cordova, Tenn., native also stands second in career stolen bases after matching her single-season record a year ago with 46 in 50 attempts.

The Bulldogs also return Vestavia Hills, Ala., native Ali Bainbridge, who earned Freshman All-SEC accolades following a .337 rookie campaign in which she added nine doubles, a triple, a home run and 30 RBIs. Senior Sammie Jo Bailey will join Bainbridge on the right side of the infield after hitting .270 a year ago with six doubles, three home runs and 24 RBIs. State also returns her sister Jessie (.234, 8 2B, 1 HR, 28 RBIs), sophomores Jessie Spain (.271, 6 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBIs), Courtney Nesbit (.300, 3 2B, 12 RBIs) and Brittany Bell (.264, 5 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs), and junior Laurie Siebert.

Sophomore Misty Flesher returns to anchor the circle, along with senior Kelsey Nurnberg. Flesher picked up 20 wins in her inaugural season for the Maroon and White, the second-most victories by a freshman in MState annals. The Lone Grove, Okla., native struck out a team-high 119 over 179.1 innings while compiling a 2.11 ERA. Nurnberg, an Ankeny, Iowa, native, enters her final season looking to build on a 2008 campaign in which she won a career-best 17 games and struck out 98 in 173.1 innings. Sophomore left-hander Elizabeth Woolven of Nettleton returns after saving a team-high four games as a freshman.

State added five newcomers who figure to see extensive action this season. The Bulldog pitching staff added left-hander Lindsey Dunlap, who earned EA Sports All-America and Alabama's Miss Softball honors following a stellar career at Hueytown (Ala.) High School. All-Area standout Brittany Gates of Houston, Miss., will also be making her collegiate debut, along with El Sobrante, Calif., native Courtney Moore, a four-time all-league honoree, and Kapolei, Hawaii, all-state standout Ka'ili Smith. Sophomore Allie Heon (Leesburg, Va.) joined the team after playing her rookie year at Villanova.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State junior catcher Chelsea Bramlett received another pre-season recognition Thursday afternoon as she was named ESPN Preseason All-America First Team catcher.

In addition to the honor from ESPN, Bramlett has also been named Preseason All-SEC and a member of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List heading into the 2009 campaign that kicks off Friday with the Bulldog Round-Robin on the MState campus.

"This is a great honor for not only Chelsea, but the Mississippi State program as well because she is included among some of the best players in the country," MSU seventh-year head coach Jay Miller said. "Chelsea has been outstanding for us in her first two seasons, and we are looking forward to another big year from her as we get ready to start the season on Friday."

The Cordova, Tenn., native is one of seven players from the Southeastern Conference named to the two squads. Bramlett and four other league players landed on the first team, while two more were second-team selections.

Bramlett enters her junior campaign looking to build on a 2008 season in which she was named first team All-SEC catcher, first team NFCA All-American for the second-consecutive year and the Diamond Sports/NFCA Division I Catcher of the Year.

The Cordova, Tenn., native paced MState to a 41-22 record and a seventh NCAA Tournament appearance with a .450 average and 90 hits that both stand second in State's single-season annals. Her hits total ranked second in the SEC last season, while her batting average was third-best in the league.

Bramlett also matched her single-season record for stolen bases with a conference second-most 46 in 50 attempts, and she finished fifth nationally in steals per game with a 0.77 mark. She added eight extra-base hits and 25 RBIs while scoring 52 runs, the most by a Bulldog sophomore.

MState hosts Iona, Louisiana-Monroe and Kennesaw State Friday through Sunday in the Bulldog Round-Robin at the MSU Softball Field. Admission to all Bulldog home softball games is free.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head soccer coach Neil Macdonald announced Wednesday the signing of Canadian National Team standout Rachel Wannek, along with Birmingham United teammates Madison McKee of Clinton, Zehra Syed of Indian Springs, Ala., Abby Trevino of Athens, Ga., and Aubrey Currington of Gulf Breeze, Fla.

"We are really excited about these five players joining the Mississippi State soccer program," Macdonald said. "All five are good, technical players who we believe have the opportunity to come in and contribute immediately."

Rachel Wannek, 5-11, F, Woodstock, Ontario (St. Mary's HS/North London Soccer Club)
Rachel Wannek joins the Bulldogs after earning four international caps playing for her native Canada. Wannek has spent the past two years attending various national team training camps and the National Training Center of Ontario. In 2006 and 2007, she earned a spot on the U15 Provincial Team under Bryan Rosenfeld. That year, she also attended the national team training camp in Vancouver. During the 2005-06 calendar, Wannek attended training camp in Brazil and was a member of the 2006 U16 All-Stars Gold Medal winners.

The Woodstock, Ontario, native also saw extensive action for the North London Soccer Club and head coach Geoff Painter. During her club tenure, Wannek has helped her team to 30 tournament titles. Last season she scored 75 goals, including three in leading her team to the Women's Ontario Cup title and the silver medal at the Women's National Tournament. In 2007, she netted 48 goals in North London's capturing the U16 Ontario Cup, U16 Nationals and League Cup titles.

Madison McKee, 5-9, M, Clinton, Miss. (Clinton HS/Birmingham United)
Madison McKee joins the Bulldogs following a stellar in-state prep career at Clinton High School. McKee helped Thomas Bobo's Arrows back to the playoffs this season with an 18-2-1 record. During her final season, McKee netted 22 goals and dished out eight assists as CHS advanced to the 5A state semifinals. Last season, she scored 15 goals, notched three assists and claimed team MVP honors and the Arrow Award for the second straight season after guiding Clinton to a 19-3-3 mark.

McKee has also enjoyed a stellar career playing club soccer for Eric Dade's Birmingham United out of Birmingham, Ala. She has helped the United to the top ranking in Alabama this season, a No. 7 region ranking and a top-20 national standing. The 2008 United squad claimed the Region 3 Premier League Central championship and a trip to the regional tournament in Raleigh, N.C., with a 19-2 record. McKee spent the summer of 2006 playing for the Jackson Futbol Club squad that qualified for regionals in Little Rock, Ark.

Zehra Syed, 5-6, M, Indian Springs, Ala. (Oak Mountain HS/Birmingham United)
Zehra Syed has captained Dade's United squad the past two seasons, and has led the 2009 squad to a No. 19 ranking in U-18 soccer. This season she helped her club squad to the Disney Soccer Showcase title after claiming CASL Girls College Showcase, Alabama Fall State Cup and Region 3 Premier League Central Division championships in 2008.

Syed, an Oak Mountain High School standout, has been a member of Alabama's Olympic Development Program the past four years, and she earned a spot in the Region III ODP Pool for the second straight time. Last year, she helped the Alabama ODP squad to a 3-1 win over the U19 Mexican Women's National Team.

Abby Trevino, 5-2, M, Athens, Ga. (Athens Academy/Birmingham United)
Abby Trevino is currently spending her final prep campaign as captain of Matt Davenport's Clarke Central High School squad. She joined CCHS following a stellar career at Athens Academy where she accumulated 177 points (65 goals and 47 assists). Trevino helped the Lady Spartans to the Georgia A/AA area championship and the state tournament each year of her varsity career. She claimed first team all-Northeast Georgia accolades the past two years after claiming second team honors as a freshman.

Trevino has played the club soccer the past two years for Dade's Birmingham United that won the Alabama state championship both years. As a member of the United, Trevino helped the team capture the Region III Premier League, CASL and Disney Showcase championships. The 2009 United squad stands 19th nationally and went to the USYSA Southern Regionals for the second straight season. Trevino has been involved with Alabama's Olympic Development Program the past two years after competing in Georgia's ODP from 2004-07. In 2008, Trevino was selected to travel to Fortuna Hjorring, Denmark, to train for and guest play in the prestigious Dana Cup, in which her squad advanced to the semifinals.

Aubrey Currington, 5-9, M, Gulf Breeze, Fla. (Gulf Breeze HS/Birmingham United)
Aubrey Currington has spent her prep career playing for Gulf Breeze (Fla.) High School, but she was born in Starkville and her parents, Keith and Lin Currington, are MState alums. Currington netted nine goals and seven assists in her final prep campaign after guiding Sharron Kerby's GBHS squad to a 19-7-1 record with six goals and six assists as a junior. In 2007, Currington helped Gulf Breeze to the state semifinals after claiming runner-up honors in 2006. During her prep career, Gulf Breeze has captured three district titles and a pair of regional championships.

Currington joined the United last summer for its 19-2 run that ended in the regional tournament. She spent the previous three years playing for the Pensacola Futbol Club that made the Florida State Cup Final Four in 2007 after an Elite Eight showing the year prior. Currington and the PFC won the Premier League South and the regional titles in both 2005 and 2006.

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State will proudly retire former great Bailey Howell's No. 52 jersey at halftime during Saturday's game against Arkansas at Humphrey Coliseum in a ceremony unveiling a banner that will permanently hang in the rafters showcasing his name, number and the years he played for the Bulldogs.

The legendary Howell, the first MSU basketball player to have his jersey retired, starred for the Bulldogs from 1957-59 and was a two-time All-American and three-time, first-team All-SEC selection.

During his illustrious career for the Maroon and White, Howell scored 2,030 points and grabbed 1,277 rebounds. While his point total is second all-time, his rebounds remain a school record.

He also continues to hold career records for scoring average (27.1), rebounding average (17.0), free throws made (682) and free throws attempted (892), while the 47 points he scored against Union in 1958 and the 34 rebounds he had against LSU in 1957 remain unmatched.

"Bailey Howell has truly been a great ambassador for Mississippi State, the city of Starkville and the state of Mississippi," MSU athletics director Greg Byrne said. "With all he's accomplished both here and in the pro ranks, it's only fitting we recognize his achievements by retiring his jersey. Bailey Howell embodies everything that makes our great university what it is today. And now, every time our fans enter the turnstiles of Humphrey Coliseum, they'll see his banner forever hanging in the rafters. I can honestly say as great of a player as he was, he's a far better person."

Howell, who resides in Starkville with his wife Mary Lou, was a first-round draft choice of the Detroit Pistons in 1959. He spent 12 seasons in the NBA and concluded his career by winning two world titles with the Boston Celtics. Upon his retirement in 1971, the six-time NBA All-Star ranked among the NBA's all-time Top 10 leaders in nine statistical categories.

Yet his crowning moment came in September of 1997 when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. To this day, he remains the only male athlete from the Magnolia State to hold that honor.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Fresh off its impressive victory at Kentucky earlier this week, Mississippi State returns to action at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum against Arkansas in a game televised by Raycom.

It's the second meeting in the last five weeks between the two Western Division rivals, as the Bulldogs (15-7, 5-2) opened league play in Fayetteville with a resounding 70-56 victory. And while Arkansas leads the overall series 26-20, MSU, which has won three SEC road games already this year, holds a 15-5 advantage at home and has won the last eight by an average of 15.6 points.

MSU enters the contest led in scoring by sophomore guard Ravern Johnson's 13.0 clip. He's coming off an 17-point performance at Kentucky, where he drained 5 of his 8 attempts from 3-point range. The Lyon, Miss., native leads the nation in 3-point accuracy with his 49.2 percent shooting.

The Bulldogs also lead the nation in blocked shots with 179, while junior forward Jarvis Varnado is tops with 105. Against the Wildcats, he swatted away seven.

Earlier this year against the Razorbacks, MSU had three players score in double-digits. Dee Bost and Barry Stewart totaled 17 points, while Varnado added 16 to go along with his nine rebounds and five blocks. Bost also dished out five assists and grabbed five rebounds en route to earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

In addition to the game, MSU will also retire the No. 52 jersey worn by former Bulldog great Bailey Howell from 1957-59 during a special halftime ceremony. The former All-American and All-SEC standout is the only male athlete from the Magnolia State that has been enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

After Saturday, MSU returns to action against Western Division leader LSU on Wednesday at Humphrey Coliseum seeking to avenge an 81-57 setback in January.

Men's Tennis
JACKSON, Miss. - The history of the Mississippi State-Ole Miss men's tennis series has had its share of classic matches and Thursday night's River Hills Cup was no different. The Rebels finally completed a 4-2 victory, but not after over five-and-a-half hours of play and a big challenge from the underdog Bulldogs (1-2) on the night.

The Rebels (4-0) took the opening point of the evening in a closely contested doubles point. After the top-ranked Rebel duo of Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge ousted Bulldogs Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump 8-2 at the No. 1 position, State evened things with an 8-3 win from Antonio Lastre and Daniel Sanchez at No. 2. On court three, the true freshmen Bulldog tandem of Louis Cant and Artem Ilyushin trailed 7-4 to Rebels Christoph and Marcel Thiemann, but broke back to 7-6. However, the UM duo broke State in the final game to take the No. 3 match and the doubles point for a 1-0 lead.

UM came out strong early in singles, gaining a 3-0 lead with straight-set wins at the No. 2 and 3 positions. On court 2, the 28th-ranked Rebel Berg downed MSU's Sanchez 6-2, 6-3, while No. 56 Kalle Norberg ousted the Bulldog Cant 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3.

At that point, it looked as if the Rebels were going to close out the Bulldogs in a shut out as UM's Britton led State's Ryan Farlow 5-4 in the third set on court No. 1 in a battle of former Jackson area stars. Serving for the match at 5-4, Britton was broken by Farlow and Farlow held for a 6-5 lead. Britton then held to force a tiebreaker. After gaining a 3-1 lead in the breaker, the MSU senior saw that lead evaporate to 3-3. But the Madison native then played aggressively to gain a 6-3 advantage and hang on for an exciting 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) win over his Brandon counterpart, a 2008 U.S. Open Junior singles finalist.

That win would extend play in the match as the 4-6 positions took the court to do battle and battle they would do, for another three-plus hours.

In hard-hitting and very close affair, MSU's Lastre finally finished off Ole Miss' Christoph Thiemann 7-6(5), 6-3 at the No. 5 position to trim the Rebel lead to 3-2.

When that match finished, the Rebels held leads at the final two positions on court and would ultimately get the clinching victory they needed at the No. 6 spot where UM's Sauer edged MSU's Doerr 7-6(4), 6-4, in a very intense matchup.

The final match of the day between the Bulldog rookie Ilyuishin and Rebel senior ten Berge was suspended at that point with UM leading 4-3 in the third set.

"Our guys gave everything they had tonight against another great Ole Miss team. We certainly had a chance to pull this out and that's all we can ask against a team of that caliber," MSU head coach Per Nilsson said. "I was extremely proud for Ryan in his win. That was a marquee matchup between two guys who grew up in this area and he really worked hard to pull out a big win against a great opponent.

"We are learning every day and growing. We are beginning to see improvements and show that we can compete with anyone in the country if we work hard enough on every single point."

State's next action will be Sunday, February 15, when the Bulldogs open their 2009 home slate at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre against UAB at 1 p.m.

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