MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The 48th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team (5-7) was up 2-1 in their second match of the Blue-Gray Classic Friday, but ultimately dropped a 4-2 decision to the 41st-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (8-5).
MSU dropped the opening doubles point to the Sooners with State's rookie tandem of Artem Ilyushin and Louis Cant falling first to the Sooner duo of Andrei Daescu and David Pultr, 8-2, at the No. 2 position. That was followed with the Bulldog doubles team of junior Chris Doerr and sophomore Tanner Stump slipping in a tight 8-6 match at No. 1 to Sooners Ionut Beleleu and Sergey Avdeyev. State led 7-4 at No. 3 when play was suspended after OU clinched the point.
MState evened things up in the match at 1-1 with a win at the No. 2 spot where Ilyushin took down OU's Pultr in a two-set bout, 6-2, 6-4. MSU then took a 2-1 lead when the Bulldogs' Cant won in commanding fashion over the Sooner Adveyev, 6-2, 6-1, at the No. 4 spot.
Oklahoma would rebound and take the next three matches to claim the team win. OU's 94th-ranked Daescu led the Oklahoma charge, downing State senior Ryan Farlow, ranked 108th, 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 1 slot. At No. 5, MSU's Doerr fell 6-1, 7-6(5) to George Chanturia of Oklahoma, followed by Bulldog sophomore Antonio Lastre falling in close identical sets to the Sooners' Beleleu, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 to decide the contest.
"It is great experience for us to play three matches in three days," said Mississippi State head coach Per Nilsson, "but we are not doing enough to win at some spots. Tomorrow will be another tough challenge for us, so we need to respond positively after a couple of close losses the first two days."
MSU will face either Hawaii or Middle Tennessee State tomorrow at 4 p.m. CST.
Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State softball team closes out a six-game home set this weekend, hosting 20th-ranked LSU in a three-game Southeastern Conference Western Division series beginning Saturday at the MSU Softball Field. This weekend's series, which is being billed as "Maroon-Out the Tigers" weekend, kicks off Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday's series finale is also scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
Admission to all of State's home softball games is free, and fans are encouraged to wear Maroon to the three games. Bulldog Club members can earn points toward their accounts by having their Dog Tags scanned beginning 30 minutes prior to first pitch through the first 15 minutes of the game.
Returning home for the first time in 17 days, State dropped a midweek league series to Arkansas to fall to 14-12 and 0-6 in SEC play. LSU swept second-ranked Alabama in Baton Rouge on Wednesday to improve to 17-6 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
Head coach Jay Miller's Mississippi State squad and LSU have posted similar numbers so far this season. The Bulldogs enter the weekend hitting .286 as a team, while LSU comes in with a .289 mark. Both teams are averaging just over seven hits a game, including 13 home runs apiece. LSU makes the trek to Starkville averaging five runs a contest, while State has scored just over four runs per game this season.
Junior Chelsea Bramlett continues to lead the Bulldogs at the plate, hitting at a .506 clip which ranks second in the Southeastern Conference. The Cordova, Tenn., native has scored a team-high 25 runs, and she has stolen a league-best 29 bases.
Sophomore Ali Bainbridge brings a .329 average into the three-game set with LSU. A sophomore out of Vestavia Hills, Ala., Bainbridge has driven in a team-best 21 runs, and she is tied with freshman Ka'ili Smith for the team doubles lead with six. Bainbridge was also tied for the home run lead until junior Jessie Bailey (.263, 4 doubles, 13 RBI) added her fourth of the season against Arkansas on Wednesday.
Bulldog freshman Lindsey Dunlap has seen five of the six starts in the circle in SEC play this season. The Hueytown, Ala., native has put together a 6-7 ledger in her rookie campaign, surrendering 39 runs (36 earned) on 83 hits while striking out a team-leading 77 over 91 innings.
Senior Kelsey Nurnberg saw her first conference start of the season on Tuesday, falling to 8-3 on the year. The Ankeny, Iowa, native has allowed 33 runs, 28 earned, for a 3.34 ERA. She has struck out 42 and walked 17 in 58 2/3 innings.
LSU's Kirsten Shortridge brings a team-leading .388 average against the Bulldog hurlers. Shortridge, who is the Tigers' main base-stealing threat with 14 in 18 attempts, has collected a double, two triples and two home runs while driving in 12 runs and scoring 17 times. Ashley Langoni has hit a team-best four home runs on the year, with three coming in SEC play where she is hitting at a .417 clip with eight RBI.
Cody Trahan and Brittany Mack have seen most of the innings in the circle for LSU this season. Trahan has jumped out to a 6-1 start, tallying a 1.71 ERA in 61 1/3 innings. Trahan has allowed 19 runs (15 earned) and struck out 63. Mack has registered 66 K's on the year, and she has compiled a 2.71 ERA after allowing 26 runs, 21 earned, on 35 hits in 54 1/3 innings.
Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's track and field team travels to Memphis on Saturday to complete in Rhodes College Invitational.
It will be the season opener for the Lady Bulldogs, who just completed their indoor season.
"Our main objective is to get stronger individuals and relay team qualifiers for the NCAA regional and championship, and to do that we have to switch things up to get better results and faster times," associate head coach Steve Dudley said.
The Bulldogs' focus is on the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relays.
"We are trying to qualify for nationals in our relays," head coach Al Schmidt said. "We are also going to use this invitational to help us prepare for the Alabama Relays (next week in Tuscaloosa)."
In the men's last showing two weeks ago at the North Florida Invitational in Jacksonville, Matthew Cameron earned an NCAA qualifying mark in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3 minutes 45.49 seconds. Justin Christian earned two qualifying marks - in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.52 seconds and in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.05 seconds.
Competition at Rhodes begins at 9 a.m.