News from MSU Media Relations--March 24

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Softball, Baseball, Basketball and Football.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State softball team opens an eight-game road trip Tuesday, traveling to Birmingham, Ala., to meet UAB at 6 p.m. at George Ward Park.

The Bulldogs enter the non-conference match-up looking to snap a 10-game losing streak that has put head coach Jay Miller's team at 14-15 overall, 0-9 in SEC play. The Blazers dropped all three games to East Carolina last weekend to enter the mid-week game at 10-17 and 3-6 in Conference USA.

Mississippi State leads the overall series 9-1, with State claiming the last seven meetings. The Bulldogs blanked UAB 7-0 in last season's meeting in Starkville. UAB's lone win in the series came in 2003, with the Blazers taking a 3-0 win at the MSU Softball Field.

Junior Chelsea Bramlett continues to pace MState at the plate, hitting at a .500 clip which is tied for tops in the Southeastern Conference. Bramlett has four doubles, two triples, eight RBI and 27 runs scored on the year, and her 30 stolen bases lead the league.

Freshman Ka'ili Smith put together another stellar weekend at the plate against No. 20 LSU to raise her season average to .321. The Kapolei, Hawaii, native has hit a team-leading seven doubles and SEC-best four triples while driving in 17 runs and scoring 10 times.

Junior Jessie Bailey (.238, 4 2B, 13 RBI) took the home run lead last Wednesday against Arkansas with her fourth of the season. Her tally ranks one ahead of sophomore Ali Bainbridge, who ventures back to her hometown hitting .318 with six doubles, a triple, a team-high 22 RBI and 15 runs scored.

The State pitching staff enters the week looking to rebound from a rough stretch that has seen its ERA rise to 3.32. Freshman Lindsey Dunlap fell to 6-9 on the weekend, and the Hueytown, Ala., native has surrendered 45 runs (42 earned) on 92 hits with a team-leading 83 strikeouts. Senior Kelsey Nurnberg enters the week with an 8-4 record. The Ankeny, Iowa, native has a 3.34 ERA after surrendering 43 runs (34 earned) with 51 strikeouts.

The Bulldog pitchers face a UAB squad that is hitting at a .266 clip this season. Martina Landrum leads the Blazers with a .375 average and 17 of 19 stolen bases. Amanda Allen, a .319 hitter, leads the team with five home runs and 19 RBI.

The Blazers' pitching staff enters the game with a 4.44 ERA. Lindsey Croft has seen most of the innings this year, sporting a 4-11 mark and 3.53 ERA with 75 strikeouts.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State treks to Mobile, Ala., Tuesday to meet the South Alabama Jaguars in the second game of a two-game season series. The Bulldogs (13-9) claimed a 5-1 win over the Jaguars (8-13) Feb. 25 at Dudy Noble Field.

First pitch at USA's Eddie Stanky Field is set for 6 p.m. (CDT).

State sophomore righty Michael Busby (1-0, 6.00) is expected to make his first career start in his first appearance against South Alabama Tuesday in Mobile. The Jaguars' projected starter is junior lefty Chris LaGrow (0-0, 7.27).

The Bulldogs are coming off a closely-contested three-game SEC weekend series at Georgia. State out-hit the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs 30-26 but could not muster the needed clutch hits, stranding 36 base-runners in dropping the three-game series (3-5, 0-4, 6-10). Senior catcher Scott DeLoach (.425) went 4-for-7 against Georgia and extended his team-leading hitting streak to a career-best seven games. Senior outfielder Grant Hogue (.250) collected five hits, drew a pair of walks, reached base twice as a hit batsman, and raised his seasonal in stolen base total to 12 with five pilfers on the weekend.

State returns to action at Dudy Noble Field Wednesday (6:30 p.m.) against the University of Memphis (9-12) before embarking on a second straight SEC weekend road series. MSU travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the ninth-ranked and SEC-leading Arkansas Razorbacks (16-4).

JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi State men's basketball player Jarvis Varnado and women's hoops star Alexis Rack have been named finalists for the 2009 Cellular South Howell & Gillom Trophies, respectively. The awards are annually given to the top male and female basketball players in the state of Mississippi.

Varnado, named the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Tournament after the Bulldogs made their improbable four-day run to the title, set the single-season SEC record for blocked shots this year with 170. Varnado was also named first-team, all-SEC by both the league's coaches and the Associated Press. He was also selected as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches.

The Franklin, La.-native, Rack has led Mississippi State in scoring this season and ranks fifth in the Southeastern Conference, averaging 14.8 points a game. The first-team, all-SEC selection has also led State and was fifth in the conference in assists this season, dishing out 4.3 a game. She has scored 1,160 career points and has moved into 11th at State on the all-time scoring list. Earlier this season, Rack become State's all-time leader in three-point field goals made.

The awards ceremony will take place next Monday, March 30, 2009, at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum in Jackson. A reception for all honorees starts at 5:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The top three men's players and top three women's players are expected to be present with their coaches. Also in attendance will be the namesakes of the two awards: former Ole Miss All-American Peggie Gillom and former Mississippi State All-American Bailey Howell.

Tickets for adults that include both the reception and the presentation are $50. A student ticket for basketball fans age 17 and under is $25. All proceeds benefit the private non-profit Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.

For more information, contact the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum at 1-800-280-FAME (3263) or electronically at

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State will usher in a new era of football on Tuesday as the Bulldogs begin their first spring practice period under new head football coach Dan Mullen.

"I'm ready to go. Our whole staff is ready," Mullen said. "And it's been a great off-season. So we're ready to get going on Tuesday."

Mullen will welcome back 41 letterwinners and 12 starters from a year ago, but the head coach will hardly be the only new face on the practice fields. Mullen retained a pair of on-field assistants from last season's staff – defensive line coach David Turner and cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith - and hired seven new assistants, including offensive coordinator Les Koenning and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush.

Tuesday's workout will be the first of an NCAA-mandated 15 practice sessions, and the Bulldogs will practice again on Thursday and Saturday of this week. Weekday practices will be held at the practice fields behind Shira Fieldhouse beginning at 3:30 p.m. All practices are open to the public, however no video or still photography will be allowed after the first 15 minutes of practice.

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