News from MSU Media Relations--March 13

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Women's Golf, Baseball, Women's Tennis, Men's Tennis, Track & Field and Men's Basketball.

Women's Golf
BATON ROUGE, La. - Mississippi State's women's golf team moves onto their second tournament of spring play Friday as they begin play at the LSU Golf Classic. Hosted by LSU, the tournament features half of the Southeastern Conference including Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Mississippi State.

Having competed for MSU in every tournament of her career thus far, sophomore Mallory Batson will lead the Bulldogs into play this weekend. A trio of juniors will join Batson in Gina Sharp, Suzanne Stanley and Leigh Phillips. Sophomore Erika Thornton will also travel for MSU.

"LSU always puts on a great tournament with a strong field.," MSU coach Christi Sanders said. "With the length of the course at 6424 yards and anticipated rain and thunderstorms all three days, we will have to be mentally and physically prepared for long days."

Mississippi State's Lady Golfers will tee off at the University Club beginning at 8 a.m. CT Friday and Saturday mornings. Play will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. CT on Sunday.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State raises the curtains on its 75th season of Southeastern Conference baseball competition Friday when the Bulldogs (10-4) open a three-game league series against SEC East rival South Carolina (10-2) at Dudy Noble Field. First pitch for Friday's series-opener is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT.

Junior left-hander Tyler Whitney (1-0, 0.82) will open on the mound for State, making his third start of the season and his second career start in league play for the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks have designated sophomore righty Sam Dyson (2-0, 0.49) for a Friday mound start.

The Bulldogs swept a Wednesday twinbill from Valparaiso, turning back the Crusaders 9-2 in the opener before rallying for a 5-4 win in the nightcap. Junior infielder Jet Butler collected a career-best four hits and lashed a school-record three doubles in State's 9-2 win. Down 4-0 in game two, the Bulldogs struck for four runs in the eighth inning and rode junior outfielder Luke Adkins' game-winning RBI groundout in the ninth to a 5-4 win, State's ninth in 10 contests at Dudy Noble Field. Adkins (.295) enters the weekend riding a team-leading six-game hitting streak, while Butler sports the club's top batting average (.447).

The Gamecocks dropped their second game of the young season Wednesday night in Columbia, S.C., bowing 16-8 to instate rival Wofford. South Carolina has won the last four meetings, taken seven of the last 10 games in the series and has prevailed in the last five series.

Game two of the MSU-USC series is set for 2 p.m. Saturday with the Sunday finale scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Stadium gates open two hours prior to scheduled first pitch for each SEC game at Dudy Noble Field.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (8-2, 0-2 SEC) plays host to Auburn (6-1, 1-1 SEC) and Alabama (11-0, 2-0 SEC) this weekend to open up the Lady Bulldogs' 2009 Southeastern Conference home slate at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. MSU faces Auburn on Friday at 2 p.m. CT, before taking on the Crimson Tide at 1 p.m. CT Sunday.

State comes into the weekend off to their best start since the 2005 season. The Lady Bulldogs are 8-2 on the year, matching their 8-2 start in 2005.

All three teams competing this weekend are ranked in the ITA National Rankings. Alabama comes in ranked as the 16th-best team in the nation, while Auburn holds a No. 49 ranking. Meanwhile, Mississippi State moved up 11 spots this week to move into the No. 46 spot in the rankings.

The Lady Bulldogs picked up big wins in their first weekend in SEC play. Playing two of the top teams in the league, senior Elna de Villers won three out of the four matches she played in, while junior Radka Ferancova defeated 77th-ranked Monica Dancevic of Georgia last Sunday.

The MSU senior duo of Martina Bankiova and de Villers are on a seven-match win streak in doubles after their two wins against Tennessee and Georgia last Friday and Saturday.

Mississippi State will face an Auburn team Friday that comes in after a tough 6-1 loss to No. 28 Arkansas last Sunday. The Tigers split a pair of SEC matches last week, taking the match over 18th-ranked LSU last Friday. Meanwhile, Alabama comes into Sunday's match undefeated after they won their first two SEC contests against those same two teams.

Following this weekend's pair of SEC matches, the Lady Bulldogs will step back out of SEC play for their final non-conference match of the year, hosting Louisiana-Lafayette next Thursday, March 19, at 11 a.m. CT. Admission to all MSU home tennis matches is free. Live stats will be available on

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team will travel to Alabama for a pair of Southeastern Conference road matches this weekend. First up will be #20 Auburn who is 7-2 and opened conference play with two wins against LSU and Arkansas both on the road, for a Friday 2 p.m. match. The Bulldogs will follow that up with a Sunday match at 1 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when they serve up against the 23rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who also are fresh off a pair of wins in conference-opening matches against LSU and Arkansas this past weekend. UA is on an eight-match win streak and are 11-1 overall this season.

"We are coming off a couple tough matches but are looking forward to rebounding back to where we need to be this weekend," said head coach Per Nilsson. "Auburn and Alabama are two very talented and experienced teams and we need to be mentally ready for this weekend's challenge against both teams."

Mississippi State was riding the wave of a three-match win streak going into conference play, but failed to conjure an upset at home against a pair of top 5 opponents this past weekend when the No. 5 Tennessee and No. 4 Georgia came visiting, both handing State 5-2 losses in tough affairs.

MSU is led by sophomore Antonio Lastre, who is 5-2 and holds a .500 record in conference play after splitting his matches this past weekend. Junior Chris Doerr is riding a two-match win streak into this weekend's road matches, is 2-0 in conference action and 4-2 overall this season. In doubles play, the tandem of Lastre and rookie Daniel Sanchez dropped their first match of the season against Georgia, after going 6-0 previously, while the freshman duo of Louis Cant and Artem Ilyushin split their conference matches over the weekend as well, and stand at 5-3 in dual match action.

Auburn boasts two players ranked nationally with senior Alexey Tsyrenov ranked 69th and is 11-4 in singles play, competing at the No. 1 spot, and sophomore Tim Puetz, who is No. 105 and sports a 13-4 record in singles, playing primarily at the No. 2 position. In doubles for AU, Puetz and Tsyrenov stand at 11th in the country.

The Crimson Tide sport two players and three doubles teams ranked. Junior Saketh Myneni is ranked 66th and boasts a record of 7-1, primarily from the No. 1 position. Senior Mathieu Thibaudeau stands at 114th nationally and has notched an 8-4 record this season, primarily at the No 2 spot. The duo of Billy Mertz and Myneni leads Alabama in doubles ranking 27th and only suffered one loss this season at the No. 2 position, Ricky Doverspike and Thibaudeau are No. 29 and Michael Jung and Trey Walston are 73rd in the country for the Crimson Tide.

State will be looking to avoid a 0-3 start in conference play for the fourth consecutive year. Against Auburn, the Bulldogs will try to event things up in the series, with the Tigers currently holding a 19-18 advantage. MState holds a three-match advantage over the Crimson Tide all-time (25-22), but Alabama has won the previous two matches.

Live stats links for both matches will be available at

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Marrissa Harris travels to College Station, Texas, for the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track Championships on Friday and will compete in the 60-meter hurdles for the Lady Bulldogs.

This will be her second trip to the NCAA Indoor Championship for the Maroon and White.

"This is an excellent opportunity for Marrissa to make a return trip to the NCAA's," assistant coach Bryan Fetzer said. "I'm sure her performance will be worthy of her being there."

Harris, a senior from Memphis, enters the race coming off a record setting performance at the 2009 SEC Indoor Championships. She ran 8.27 seconds to win her preliminary heat en route to earning second team All-SEC honors.

Harris will race in the preliminary round of the 60-meter hurdles Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Men's Basketball
TAMPA, Fla. - After disposing of Georgia 79-60 on Thursday in the first round of the SEC Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum, Mississippi State now turns its attention toward South Carolina, which had an opening-round bye.

Tipoff is slated for 2:15 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by Raycom, with Tom Hammond handling the play-by-play duties and Larry Conley serving as the analyst.

It's the second meeting of the year between the two teams, as the Bulldogs (20-12, 10-7) claimed a 75-70 victory at Humphrey Coliseum on Feb. 18. MSU leads the overall series, 12-8, but is 0-2 against the Gamecocks (21-9, 10-6) in the SEC Tournament.

In their earlier meeting this season, Ravern Johnson paced MSU with 20 points, followed by Phil Turner and Dee Bost with 16 and 14, respectively. Devan Downey led Carolina with 19 points, while Dominique Archie, Zam Fredrick and Brandis Raley-Ross each added 11.

On Thursday against the Bullldogs, reserve forward Kodi Augustus had a career outing with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting as State improved to 22-46 all-time in the tournament. He also drained 3 of his 4 3-point attempts and collected three rebounds. Junior forward Jarvis Varnado produced his eighth double-double of the year and the 15th of his career with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

The win also meant MSU has won 20-plus games under Rick Stansbury for the eighth time and the 14th time in school history.

Today's winner advances to the semifinals at noon on Saturday against the Kentucky-LSU winner.

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