News from MSU Media Relations--February 19

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State softball team returns to the MSU Softball Field this weekend, hosting Evansville, Rutgers and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the 2009 Bulldog Classic. The tournament begins at 1 p.m. Friday, with the Bulldogs opening play against Rutgers at 3 p.m.

Saturday's slate of four games kicks-off at 10 a.m. State faces Evansville at 2 p.m. and SIU-Edwardsville at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs close the weekend with a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday. Admission to all MSU home softball games is free. Bulldog Club members can have Dog Tags scanned beginning 30 minutes prior to State's scheduled contest though the first 15 minutes of the game.

Bulldog softball will also be getting in the Mardi Gras spirit by hosting Mardi Gras Madness Weekend during the Bulldog Classic. Fans in attendance at Friday's game will have the opportunity to create their own Mardi Gras masks and will receive Maroon and White beads.

Head coach Jay Miller's squad brings a 6-2 mark into the Bulldog Classic after a perfect run through last weekend's Sunshine Classic in Tallahassee, Fla. The Bulldogs knocked off No. 23 Purdue on Friday, making Miller, who was named the United States Women's National Team head coach on Monday, the school's winningest coach with a 223-166 mark.

Junior Chelsea Bramlett, a Preseason All-SEC and All-America selection, paces the Bulldogs at the plate. The Cordova, Tenn., native is hitting at a .440 clip (11-for-25) with two RBI and a team-best 10 runs scored. The school's single-season stolen base record-holder, Bramlett has already swiped 12 of her 13 attempts in 2009. She had a streak of 11-straight stolen bases snapped Friday against the Boilermakers.

Freshman Courtney Moore continued her impressive start to the campaign, hitting .333 in Tallahassee to raise her season average to .417. The El Sobrante, Calif., native has driven in a team-high 11 runs, the best eight-game start by a freshman in school history.

Freshman Lindsey Dunlap and senior Kelsey Nurnberg tossed all 21 innings in Tallahassee. Dunlap picked up a pair of victories to move to 3-0 on the year. The Hueytown, Ala., native, who has also recorded a pair of saves, has a 1.94 ERA, allowing six runs on 15 hits with 14 strikeouts over 21 2/3 innings. Nurnberg also enters the weekend at 3-0, and the Ankeny, Iowa, native leads the team with a 1.42 ERA and 16 strikeouts.

The Bulldogs host the Bulldog Classic for the ninth time, holding a 30-6 overall record in the tournament. The Bulldogs are a perfect 8-0 over the last two events (2006 and 2008) and 17-1 under Miller's guidance.

The Dogs face a tough challenge in this year's field. Evansville enters the weekend 2-2 overall after opening the slate at the Georgia State Tournament last weekend. The Purple Aces fell to nationally-ranked Missouri and the host team on the opening day before rallying to claim 8-0 and 9-0 shutouts of 2008 Women's College World Series participant Virginia Tech.

Lissa Fehlman paced Evansville at the plate, hitting .583 with a home run and seven RBI to earn Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week honors. Jennifer McKee and Kylie Wagner each picked up a victory over the weekend. The duo allowed 13 runs, 11 earned, for a 3.50 ERA.

The Bulldogs hold a 2-1 series lead over Evansville. The last two meetings between the squads came at the 1999 Bulldog Classic, with the Purple Aces claiming a 3-2 win in eight innings before State responded with a 1-0 victory in an extra frame. MState is meeting the other two teams in the field, SIU-Edwardsville and Rutgers, for the first time.

A relative newcomer to Division I softball, SIU-Edwardsville boasts an 8-1 record so far in 2009. The Cougars, who won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2007, come to Starkville riding the momentum of winning the Kennesaw State Tournament last weekend.

The Cougars enter the weekend hitting .288 as a team and have out-scored opponents 48-13. SIUE is led at the plate by Chaleen Rumpf (.375) and Lauren Zembruski (.360). Zembruski leads the Cougars in home runs (2) and RBI (11). SIUE's pitching staff has compiled an impressive 0.77 ERA, and Erika Taylor leads the way with a 6-0 record and 0.79 ERA. She has struck out 47 on the year while yielding just eight walks.

Rutgers ventures to Starkville looking to open the season on a strong note. The Scarlet Knights return six starters and two pitchers from last year's squad that finished 23-32 and 7-15 in the Big East. Mandy Craig and Amanda Heller, who hit a team-best .299 and .293, a year ago, return to the squad. Sarah Kalka and Kate Valiante are also back after hitting four home runs apiece last season. Valiante and Craig led the team with 28 RBI each.

Nicole Lindley and Crissy Yard bolster the pitching staff for Rutgers. Lindley went 9-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 2008, while Yard was 7-18 with a 4.56 earned-run average.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 50th ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team, 2-2 on the year, will host their second and third-straight home matches this weekend. On Friday, MSU will welcome the Memphis Tigers (5-2) at 2 p.m., and on Sunday entertain the Georgia State Panthers (0-7).

MSU is coming off a home-opening, 5-2 win over the UAB Blazers for second-year head coach Per Nilsson's second-straight, home-opening win as the leader of the Bulldog tennis team.

The Bulldogs' only two losses this season have come against opponents ranked in the top 10 nationally, with Ole Miss ranked ninth and Southern Cal at sixth. State also notched a win over then-49th-ranked Saint Mary's on a neutral court, shutting out the Gaels 4-0 during the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Los Angeles, Calif.

MSU's doubles tandem of sophomore Antonio Lastre and freshman Daniel Sanchez have enjoyed success since dual match play began, as the pair is currently 4-0 and will be looking to remain undefeated on Friday.

Lastre has also shined at the #5 singles spot for MSU, winning his first three matches of the year before dropping a tough three-set bout this past Sunday to UAB.

Memphis boasts two players who have already reached 10 wins this year, with senior Jorge Vazquez holding a 10-3 record thus far and freshman K.C. Griffin, who holds a 10-2 record on the year.

Georgia State presents a youthful lineup that includes four freshmen. They are led by senior Nejc Podkrajsek, who is 3-3 in dual match play.

The Panthers, who are still in search for their first win of the season will play in two matches before Sunday's match with the Bulldogs. GSU will face Georgia Tech on Thursday in Atlanta, followed by a Saturday match against State's Friday opponent, the Memphis Tigers, which will actually be a neutral site contest played at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre at 11 a.m.

Against Memphis, MSU currently holds a five-match win streak over the Tigers, but are even with Memphis all-time at 13-13. This will be the first match against Memphis since 2007 when MSU won at Memphis, 4-3. MSU is 2-0 all-time against Georgia State, most recently last season's 6-1 home victory over the Panthers.

Admission is free at all MSU home tennis matches and live stats will be available at

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 2009 Mississippi State women's team (7-0) has accomplished something it has never done in school history - start a season off with seven consecutive wins. The Lady Bulldogs picked up that seventh victory of the season with a 6-1 triumph over Memphis (5-4) Thursday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.

"It was a great win for us," said head coach Tracy Lane. "It was a tough match, and I still think we need to make some improvements. We are obviously thrilled to be 7-0, but we have to step it up a little going into conference play."

The Lady Bulldogs started the day off with the senior duo of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers jumping out to an early 5-0 lead on court No. 2 in doubles. At the No. 3 position, the MSU tandem of Radka Ferancova and Daniela Juskova also get off to a good start, picking up the quick 3-1 advantage, as the freshman pair of Natalia Mayuk and Olesya Tsigvintseva found themselves in a close 2-2 affair early on.

All three doubles teams would hang on to give State the point. Banikova and de Villiers lead the entire way for the 8-2 victory over UM's Kristin Chamberlin and Dara Toulch. At position No. 3, MSU's Ferancova and Juskova also held for an 8-2 triumph over the Tiger's Robyn Jones and Marjorie Ondeck. While the two State teams on courts two and three won with relative ease, the MSU freshman tandem went back and forth, but finally came up with the 8-5 win over UM's Ashley Murdock and Sarah Irvin, snapping a three-match losing streak.

As they have done in every contest this season, the Lady Bulldogs entered singles play with a 1-0 lead. Looking for three more points to clinch the match, MSU got off to an impressive start in singles.

Tsigvintseva came out with a quick 6-0 first-set victory at position No. 2, while Banikova, Ferancova, de Villiers and Mayuk each jumped out to a 3-2 lead on their respective courts. State lost the first set at court No. 5, however, as Mayuk fell 6-4.

MSU went on to take the next two sets, as de Villiers won 6-2 at the No. 4 position and Ferancova battled for a 6-3 lead on court No. 3. With State taking the first set on three courts, the team put itself in good position the rest of the way.

Picking up the first singles win for MSU was Tsigivintseva. She took the match 6-0, 6-2 over UM's Sarah Irvin.

Following her victory, State's de Villiers gave the team a 3-0 lead with her 6-2, 6-0 straight-set victory at position four. Needing just one more point to clinch the match, the Lady Bulldogs hoped to grind out a win on one of the final four courts.

That match-clinching point came from Mayuk. After losing the first set, Mayuk battled back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 triumph. With the match in hand, two courts were still in play. Makarycheva won in a three sets, 7-5, 1-6, 1-0, at the No. 6 position, while Ferancova won in a tight 6-3, 7-6(6) match on court No. 3, moving her record to 7-0 in singles play and putting State up 6-0.

Banikova suffered State's only setback of the day in a very close 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 loss to UM's Ashley Murdock at the No. 1 position.

The undefeated Lady Bulldogs will look to continue their impressive winning streak when they play host to East Tennessee State at home next Saturday, Feb. 28, at 11 a.m. CT. Admission is free to all.

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