News from MSU Media Relations--April 4

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

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's women's team (9-6, 0-6 Southeastern Conference) could not shrug off a tough Vanderbilt squad (8-5, 4-2 SEC) Friday afternoon, falling to the Commodores 6-1 in Nashville, Tenn.

Playing against its fifth top-20 team in six conference contests, Mississippi State began the day with a rough start in doubles. The Lady Bulldogs lost on courts two and three, quickly putting the doubles point in the hands of the Commodores.

The State duo of Radka Ferancova and Daniela Juskova along with the MSU pair of Natalia Mayuk and Olesya Tsigvintseva both dropped 8-3 affairs at their respective courts. Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers picked up their third conference win of the season for the Lady Bulldogs, ousting the 49th-ranked VU tandem of Heather Steinbauer and Jackie Wu at the No.1 position.

After losing some momentum in doubles, State evened things up at 1-1 when Junior Ferancova picked up a 6-0, 1-0 (ret.) victory at court No. 3. Her opponent, Kelly Ulery, dropped out for unspecified reasons after the first set.

At 1-1, it was left up to the remaining five singles courts if State was to pull out an upset victory. However, that score would be as close as the Lady Bulldogs could get the rest of the day, as Vanderbilt stormed away with five consecutive wins.

MSU's Natalia Mayuk was the first to go down when she dropped a 6-4, 6-1 contest to Heather Steinbauer. Her loss was followed by Valeriya Makarycheva's 6-4, 6-2 loss to VU's Courtney Ulery, putting the score at 3-1 in the Commodores' favor.

Vanderbilt clinched the match with a 6-0, 6-4 victory by 62-ranked Catherine Newman over MSU freshman Tsigvintseva at the top position. State's Banikova then fell at No. 2 6-1, 6-4 to 57th-ranked Jackie Wu of Vanderbilt, while de Villiers took a 6-3, 6-2 defeat at the No. 4 position to Chelsea Preeg of VU.

MSU travels to Lexington, Ky., Sunday to take on the Wildcats in an 11 a.m. CT affair. You can follow all Mississippi State tennis matches online at mstateathletics.com


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A week removed from a Southeastern Conference series victory over No. 9 Tennessee, the Mississippi State softball team looks to build on that momentum this weekend as it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to meet the top-ranked Florida Gators. The series kicks off with a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. CST. Sunday's series finale is also set for a 12 p.m. start, and all three games will be broadcast live on WMSV 91.1 FM and online at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.

State enters the weekend at 17-17 and 2-10 in league play following a Wednesday night, non-conference setback to Ole Miss in the M&F Bank Fastpitch Classic in Madison. Florida boasts a 36-3 overall record and a 15-1 mark that tops the SEC East.

Junior Chelsea Bramlett looks to continue an outstanding campaign in which she leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with a .505 batting average. The Cordova, Tenn., native, who passed Kellie Wilkerson for the top career batting average in school history (.435), has contributed four doubles, a pair of triples, eight RBI and 33 runs scored.

One of 25 finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Bramlett also leads the league in stolen bases with 36 in 41 attempts. The nation's second-best base-stealer with 1.06 per game, Bramlett sits 10 steals behind her school record and 13 behind the career record (141) held by Iyhia McMichael.

State will be looking for reigning SEC Player of the Week Ali Bainbridge to continue swinging her hot bat this weekend. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native has hit .583 (7-for-12) over the past four games with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored. On the season, Bainbridge boasts a .350 average with a team-high 28 RBI. She is tied for the team lead in both doubles (7) and home runs (4).

Freshman Lindsey Dunlap will be aiming for another solid weekend in the circle. The Hueytown, Ala., native picked up both wins against the Lady Vols before suffering Wednesday's loss against the Rebels to fall to 9-10 on the year. Dunlap has struck out a team-best 95, and she takes a 3.40 ERA into this weekend's series.

The Gators return home following a mid-week sweep at Auburn on Wednesday. UF is hitting .334 as a team, with Francesca Enea hitting at a .371 clip with the team lead in home runs (11) and RBI (48). Kristina Hilberth has enjoyed a solid season, hitting .382 with a pair of doubles, a triple and 16 RBI. Aja Paculba, a .378 hitter, leads the Gators on the bases with 20 stolen bases.

Florida boasts one of the top pitching staffs in the nation as Stacey Nelson and Stephanie Brombacher have combined for a 0.61 ERA. Stacey Nelson leads the way with a 20-3 mark in 25 appearances. Nelson has surrendered just 17 runs (nine earned) while striking out 181 over 148 innings. Brombacher enters the weekend 16-0, having given up 13 earned runs for a 0.88 ERA.


Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State women's basketball team has announced the signing of Ashley Jones of Winter Park, Fla. to a national letter of intent to play with the Lady Bulldogs.

The standout from Lake Howell High School was named Florida's Miss Basketball by the Florida Dairy Farmers Association and was also the Class 5A recipient of the award. Last month, Jones was named the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year in women's basketball.

Jones averaged 21 points, 4.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and shot 58 percent from the field during her senior campaign this past year in which she helped lead her squad to a 29-2 record and Florida's 5A State Championship.

This season, Jones became the all time leading scorer at Lake Howell, as she finished her career with 1,952 points. Jones also was named to the 5A All-State team in 2007 and 2008. Last season, she helped lead the Tennessee Flight to the Nike Nationals Gold Division Championship.

Jones has twice been named Orlando Sentinel Seminole County Player of the Year and was named the Orlando Sentinel Central Florida Player of the Year this season.


Track & Field
Austin, Texas - Mississippi State track and field team maintains its impressive showing on day three of the Texas Relays. The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs earned qualifying marks in the men's 4x400-meter relay, 4x100-meter relay, 100-meter dash and the women's long jump.

"It has been a good meet for us so far," coach Al Schmidt said. "I am happy with the progress that the team has made."

The men's 4x400-meter relay team of Dwight Mullings, Trevarus Christian, John Bailey and Emanuel Mayers has the fastest time going into tomorrow's final. They ran a regional qualifying time of 3 minutes, 9.54 seconds. D'Angelo Cherry, Justin Christian, Mullings and Bailey also qualified for tomorrow's 4x100-meter relay final with a time of 40.17 seconds, their third regional qualifying mark of the season.

Cherry, a native of Jonesboro, Ga., qualified for the 100-meter dash final with a time of 10.44 seconds to earn a regional qualifying mark. Cherry heads into the finals with the fourth fastest time of the competition.

Junior Wendy Copeland achieved an outdoor season-best and regional qualifying mark in the long jump with a distance of 19 feet 8 inches.

The Maroon and White will conclude competition at the 82nd Texas Relays beginning at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow with the 4x100-meter relay final.


Soccer
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State soccer team will host a pair of free, two-hour clinics for boys and girls ages 6-15 on Wed., April 8, and Sat., April 18.

Featuring instruction from the Bulldog players and coaching staff, the clinics will feature in-depth technical instruction and fun games.

The April 8 clinic will be held from 4-6 p.m. prior to State's exhibition match-up with Samford. The April 18 clinic will be held from 2-4 p.m. The Bulldogs will host their annual Alumni Match at 10 a.m. that day as part of the school's Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions Bank festivities.


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