STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 55th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team (5-8, 1-3 SEC) returns to Southeastern Conference action this weekend with a road match on Friday 1 p.m. CST, when the Bulldogs will travel to Columbia, S.C., to meet 16th-ranked South Carolina (13-3, 2-2). MSU will then return home for a Sunday match against the seventh-ranked Florida Gators (11-5, 2-2) at 1 p.m. CST.
MSU is coming off a tough 0-3 showing at the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala., where the Bulldogs dropped close matches to No. 26 Notre Dame (4-2), No. 41 Oklahoma (4-2) and No. 54 Virginia Commonwealth (4-3).
"We are excited to get back to conference play," said Mississippi State head coach Per Nilsson. "We feel like we are capable of beating anyone in the country and this weekend will be another great opportunity to play two elite teams."
The Bulldogs are led by senior Ryan Farlow who ranks 108th nationally. True freshman Artem Ilyushin went 2-0 in singles last week and 1-1 in doubles after moving up to the No. 2 position in both spots. Also on a tear of late is junior Chris Doerr, winning five of his last seven singles matches, including a 2-1 record since moving up to the No. 5 spot. He also teamed up with sophomore Tanner Stump to upset the 40th-ranked duo of Benjamin Bouhana and Emil Lindgren of Virginia Commonwealth at the Blue-Gray.
South Carolina is led by junior Diego Cubas who stands 50th nationally and boasts a record of 19-7. Gamecock Pedro Campos is ranked 115th and is 19-8, 3-1 in league play. Cubas and teammate Ivan Machado are ranked 29th nationally in doubles for USC and have tallied an 11-5 record this season.
The Gators boast three ranked players in singles, led by Alex Lacroix who stands at 14th nationally and has put together a 14-3 ledger this season, followed by No. 24 Carlos Cueto, who is 19-7 but is still in search of his first SEC win. Gator Tyler Hochwalt is ranked 87th. Cueto and Joey Burkhardt also represent UF as the 73rd-ranked doubles team in the country. Florida is led by eighth-year head coach Andy Jackson, a longtime former head coach at Mississippi State (1989-2001).
Admission is free to all home Mississippi State tennis matches and live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
ATHENS, Ga. - Mississippi State's women's golf team will compete this weekend in its second of three-straight tournaments hosted by Southeastern Conference foes. Hosted by the University of Georgia, the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic features one of the most competitive fields in the nation, including eight of the SEC's 12 teams and 11 of Golfweek's national Top-25 squads.
Mallory Batson continues her streak of 16 consecutive tournament appearances as a sophomore, while fellow sophomore Erika Thornton and junior Gina Sharp join Batson as the only Lady Bulldog golfers to compete in every tournament this season. Also travelling for MSU will be freshman Perry Katherine Furr, making her third appearance as a Bulldog, and senior Jillian Jones who will see competition for the second time this season.
"We want to continue lowering our team scoring averages during the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic," MSU coach Christi Sanders said. "Individually, we have had some good rounds but it needs to come together collectively. This tournament is one of the longest running college events and the team is excited to be invited to participate."
Mississippi State's Lady Golfers will tee off at the UGA Golf Course at 9:40 a.m. CT Friday, while play begins at 8 a.m. CT on Saturday and Sunday.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State faces its third ranked conference opponent in as many weekends of league play when the Bulldogs (14-10, 2-4 SEC) open a three-game SEC road series Friday against league-leading and ninth-ranked Arkansas (17-4, 6-0 SEC).
The weekend set opens Friday with a 6:35 p.m. (CDT) contest at Baum Stadium/Cole Field. The teams then square off Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and wrap up the third weekend of league play with a 1:05 p.m. contest Sunday.
The Bulldogs topped the Memphis Tigers 6-3 Wednesday night at Dudy Noble Field to improve their home record to 13-2 on the season. State took two of three games on SEC opening weekend from then-No. 17 South Carolina and last weekend in Athens, Ga., dropped three closely contested games against No. 3 Georgia.
Junior lefty Tyler Whitney (2-1, 2.82) will open on the mound for the Bulldogs as State takes aim on its second SEC series win of the season and its fifth straight in Fayetteville. MSU has claimed wins in nine of the last 12 Bulldog-Razorback baseball matchups at Arkansas. State closed out its 2008 season taking two of three games from Arkansas at Dudy Noble Field.
Arkansas also notched a Wednesday night win at home, blanking Missouri State 10-0. The Razorbacks have tabbed junior lefty Dallas Keuchel (3-0, 3.00) for a start in Friday's series-opener.
Junior second baseman Jet Butler singled and drove in two runs Wednesday night and paces the Bulldogs at the plate. He sports a team-best .382 batting average with team-highs for both hits (29) and RBI (23). Junior first baseman Connor Powers (.304) cracked his team-leading fourth home run and notched his third straight multi-hit game in State's win over Memphis.
Senior center fielder Grant Hogue climbed into MSU's career top 10 for stolen bases with his 39th pilfer in two seasons. Hogue, fourth in the SEC with 14 stolen bases and first in the league with 11 free passes as a hit batsman, tied Brad Freeman (1995-98) for 10th on State's all-time career list for stolen bases. Mike Kelley (1976-79) set the MSU standard with 79.
Arkansas, which swept earlier SEC series at home against Florida and last weekend at Auburn, is 14-3 this season at Baum Stadium. Razorback lead-off hitter center fielder Chase Leavitt opens the weekend with a .429 batting average and a .556 on-base percentage, both second-highest marks in the SEC.