News from MSU Media Relations--March 9

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

Women's Tennis
ATHENS, Ga. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (8-2, 0-2 SEC) concluded its tough start to the conference slate with a 6-1 loss to second-ranked Georgia (11-1, 2-0 SEC) Sunday afternoon on the road.

Georgia came into the match with MSU as the highest-ranked team in the Southeastern Conference. The Lady Bulldogs of UGA had four singles players and one doubles team ranked in the ITA National Rankings coming into the contest with State, proving to be a tough task for the MSU Lady Netters.

"We knew it was going to be tough, but I think we saw a lot of improvements all around today," said head coach Tracy Lane. "I was very pleased with the top of our lineup."

Mississippi State started the day taking two losses in doubles. MSU's freshman duo of Natalia Mayuk and Olesya Tsigvintseva fell to the 73rd-ranked UGA tandem of Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsea Gullickson 8-2 at No. 1 before Lady Bulldogs Radka Ferancova and Daniela Juskova dropped an 8-3 decision to Georgia's pair of Lara Fakhoury and Naoka Ueshima at the No. 2 position.

MSU's lone win came at court No. 2, where the senior duo of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers ousted Georgia's tandem of Monica Dancevic and Cameron Ellis 8-6.

Trailing 1-0 after doubles, Mississippi State looked to singles for some much-needed wins. Georgia continued its strong performance however, winning on courts 4, 5 and 6 in straight sets to clinch the match early on.

The match clincher came at the No.5 position where State's Mayuk fell to Ueshima of Georgia 6-1, 6-2.

Ferancova picked up Mississippi State's lone win on the day. Playing at the No. 3 position, the junior won in a 7-6(2), 6-4 triumph over 77th-ranked Dancevic.

"I am very happy for Radka. It was a great win for her, and she continues to play great for us," said coach Lane.

At the top two positions, UGA posted two more victories over State's Banikova and Tsigvintseva to seal the match in Georgia's favor 6-1.

Looking for its first conference win of the season, State will return home to welcome Alabama and Auburn to the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre next weekend. The Lady Bulldogs play host to Auburn Friday, March 13, starting at 2 p.m. CT, before taking on the Crimson Tide in a 1 p.m. CT start next Sunday, March 15.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team fell behind early against the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs Sunday and, despite a late charge, were not able to make up the ground needed to recover, ultimately falling 5-2 to the two-time defending national champion.

With the loss MSU fell to 4-4 on the season and 0-2 in conference play. UGA improved to 12-2, 1-1.

Georgia started out strong by sweeping doubles, but not without a couple of tight decisions. UGA was led by the 12th-rannked duo of Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg taking down MSU's Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump 8-2 at the No. 1 position. The Bulldogs from Georgia clinched the doubles point at the No. 3 spot with Josh Varela and Christian Vitulli beating State's rookie duo Artem Ilyushin and Louis Cant in a close affair, 8-6. UGA's tandem of Drake Bernstein and Javier Garrapiz completed the sweep with a tiebreak win over Bulldogs' Antonio Lastre and Daniel Sanchez, 8-7(7). It was the first time the duo of Lastre and Sanchez had fallen this season, and the first doubles point State had dropped in five matches.

UGA took control in singles winning the first two matches to go up 3-0. Hunt, ranked 60th, took down the MSU freshman Sanchez at No. 2 in a two-set outing, 6-2, 6-2. MState's 118th-ranked senior Ryan Farlow jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening set over UGA's No. 7 ranked Schnugg at the No. 1 spot, but eventually dropped the match, 6-4, 6-1.

Despite the big Georgia lead at that point, State was giving UGA a strong challenge on the other four courts, sending three of them to third sets.

State's junior Doerr would put the Bulldogs on the board with his win at the No. 6 position over Georgia's Vitulli, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, with Doerr claiming seven of the last eight games in the match.

But Georgia got the clinching point it needed at the No. 5 spot when Varela held off MSU's Cant in a three-set bout, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Garrapiz, 84th-ranked, won the match at No. 3 over the Bulldog freshman Ilyushin, 7-5, 6-2. UGA defaulted the final match on court No. 4 with MSU's Lastre leading 3-1 in the third set over Bernstein.

"It was a hard-fought match," said head coach Per Nilsson. "Dropping the point in doubles hurt us, but we started out slow in singles and, against a team like Georgia, that is difficult to overcome. We are now looking forward to next weekend's matches where we will play two more very formidable opponents."

State will look to rebound this upcoming weekend when MSU travels to 26th-ranked Auburn on Friday and No. 20 Alabama Sunday.

HONOLULU, Hawaii - Mississippi State freshman and Kapolei, Hawaii, native Ka'ili Smith collected one of five hits and drove in the Bulldogs' lone run of the afternoon in a 3-1 setback to Radford Sunday afternoon in its final game at the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in Honolulu.

The Bulldogs wrapped up the final weekend of the pre-conference slate with a 3-3 mark to move to 14-6 overall. Radford improved to 7-3 on the year.

Chelsea Bramlett, Jessie Bailey, Courtney Moore and Courtney Nesbit also collected a hit each for the Bulldogs. Bramlett, who hit .565 with three doubles, two RBI and seven stolen bases for the tournament, has now hit safely in 13 straight games, two short of matching her career high.

In her first collegiate action in her home state, Smith's base hit on Sunday capped a .500 (8-for-16) weekend in which she hit four doubles and drove in four runs while scoring three times.

The Highlanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Kristen Shifflett hit a two-run home run. RU added another run in the second when Jenn Everhart reached on an error and scored three batters later on Leigh Godfrey's two-out single.

"It was a struggle out there for us today," MState head coach Jay Miller said. "We fell behind early, and I thought that Lindsey (Dunlap) did a nice job of giving us a chance. We didn't make adjustments at the plate. We dug ourselves a hole, and I kept thinking that the bats would wake up and we'd score some runs but we didn't. We have a lot of work to do to get ready to open SEC play against a very good Alabama team."

Senior Kelsey Nurnberg surrendered all three runs, two earned, with a strikeout in one and two-thirds innings to fall to 8-2 on the year. Dunlap held the Highlanders to just three hits and struck out two over the final four and two-thirds.

The Bulldogs scored their lone run in the top half of the third. Bailey sparked the inning with a one-out double off the wall in left field. Nesbit moved her to third with a base hit, and Smith put State on the scoreboard with a single that dropped in front of the RU centerfielder.

Kellie Snooks kept MState off the scoreboard as she struck out three over a perfect final four and one-thirds innings to move to 5-0 on the campaign. Chelsea Kelley went the first two and two-thirds innings, surrendering the lone MSU run on five hits with a strikeout and a walk.

Mississippi State returns to action next Saturday, opening the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule against top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide open the three-game set with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday. The series concludes on Sunday in a single game set for a 1:30 p.m. first pitch.

Men's Golf
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Mississippi State men's golf team fired their third 292 in a row at the Seminole Intercollegiate Sunday to finish the tournament in a tie for fifth place at 12-over-par. Senior Carlos Sainz, Jr. posted a 2-under par 214 to finish the event in second place, just one shot shy of the individual crown and his highest finish ever in a collegiate tournament.

The Elgin, Ill.-native Sainz had three birdies and a final hole bogey for the Bulldogs to take a one shot lead into the clubhouse when he finished his round. The 36-hole leader Ryan Haselden of Vanderbilt was one shot behind Sainz entering the 18th hole. Haselden drained the come-from-behind eagle putt to clench a one stroke victory not only for himself but for his team in the overall standings.

"Carlos played great today," said head coach Clay Homan. "It took an eagle on the 54th hole of the tournament to beat him."

Fellow Senior Noah Goldman finished the event with a three-round score of 221 to tie for 22nd. Senior Brian Mason finished in a tie for 28th after posting 222 for the tournament. Senior Matt Fast finished his tournament strong by going 1-over-par over his final two rounds to finish in a tie for 36th. Senior Josh Bevell posted a three-day score of 226 to finish the tournament in a tie for 43rd.

The Bulldogs, as a team, shot even-par on the front nine. However, on the back nine, the team slipped by firing a score of 4-over-par.

"We finished opposite the way we did yesterday," said Homan. "We didn't finish strong. That was the difference in where we finished as a team."

Vanderbilt fired a final day 1-under-par 287 to finish with a three-day total of 863 and a one-stroke advantage over Virginia. Florida State also posted a 287 on the final day of competition to finish in third while Ole Miss finished fourth after a third-round score of 299.

State will now take two weeks off before heading to Mobile, Ala., for the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate.

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