News from MSU Media Relations--April 10

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

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 69th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team closes out its Southeastern Conference road schedule this weekend with a pair of matches. On Friday, April 10, MSU will faceoff against the No. 42 Arkansas Razorbacks at 2 p.m. CT and then conclude the road schedule at 32nd-ranked LSU on Sunday, April 12, at 1 p.m. CT.

Mississippi State (5-12, 1-7 Southeastern Conference) will be looking to snap an eight-match losing skid on Friday when they serve up against the Razorbacks (10-10, 2-6), who have dropped three of their last four matches. The LSU Tigers (7-10, 2-6) are fresh off an upset of No. 17 South Carolina, which snapped a four-match Tiger skid.

"We need a total team effort this weekend," said Mississippi State head coach Per Nilsson. "Both Arkansas and LSU have been playing very well lately and these will be two very tough road matches."

MState is led by senior Ryan Farlow who is ranked 88th nationally and winner of two of his last three matches. State's No. 89 true freshman Artem Ilyushin has been on a tear lately winning four of his last six matches for the Maroon and White.

Arkansas boasts the 13th-ranked player in the country in senior Blake Strode, who has totaled 10 wins this season, and is the winner in three of his last four matches. The Razorbacks' doubles tandem of Dimitry Lebedev and Chris Nott, who stand at 58th nationally, have posted 10 wins this season.

LSU is led by the sixth-ranked Michael Venus who is 10-5 this season and 6-2 in SEC action. In doubles play, LSU is paced by the No. 8 tandem of Venus and Neal Skupski.

Live stats will be available at www.msstateathletics.com.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After a great finish at the 82nd Texas Relays last week, Mississippi State now turns its attention toward the Ole Miss Invitational, with the one-day event scheduled for Saturday in Oxford.

Coach Al Schmidt's Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs enter the meet ranked 28th and 40th in the country, respectively and will compete against the likes of Alabama, Jackson State, LSU, Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Notre Dame, along with host Ole Miss.

Last week at the Texas Relays, freshman D'Angelo Cherry ran a regional qualifying time of 10.17 seconds in the 100-meter dash, the fifth-best mark in school history, while the men's 4x200 meter relay team placed third at 1:23.28.

The women's 4x200 meter placed fourth with a time of 1:36.54 to record the fourth-best time in MSU history. Kendrick Poullard jumped a personal-best and regionally qualifying of 50 feet, 8.75 inches to finish second in the Section B of the triple jump.

As for Saturday, competition begins at 11:30 a.m. with the men's hammer throw and the women's javelin at the Ole Miss track and field complex.


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the final time in their careers, three Mississippi State seniors will take to the court at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre when the Lady Bulldogs (9-7, 0-7 SEC) welcome Arkansas (10-6, 5-3 SEC) and LSU (13-6, 3-4 SEC) for a pair of matches this Easter weekend.

MSU will host the 14th-ranked Lady Razorbacks at 11 a.m. CT Friday, before seniors Martina Banikova, Elna de Villiers and Daniela Juskova take to the court for the last time at home against LSU at 1 p.m. CT Sunday.

The 67th-ranked Lady Bulldogs come into the weekend off a stream of tough losses to stiff competition. MSU has played three-straight contests against teams ranked in the top-20 of the ITA national rankings. In its last outing, Mississippi State was bested by 20th-ranked Kentucky.

The senior duo of de Villiers and Banikova are making the most of their last moments as Lady Bulldogs. The tandem has won two straight matches at the top doubles position, including a win over the 40th-ranked Kentucky tandem of Carolina Escamilla and Caroline Lilley. Banikova and de Villiers currently boast an overall record of 4-3 in Southeastern Conference play.

The competition does not get any easier for the Lady Bulldogs this weekend. Both Arkansas and LSU claim high national rankings, while the Lady Razorbacks are enjoying a tight lead in the SEC West. Arkansas' Aurelija Miseviciute is also one of the top players in the league with a No. 5 national ranking.

Following this weekend's home finale, Mississippi State will conclude the 2009 regular season against in-state rival Ole Miss next Saturday, April 18 at 1 p.m. CT.

Admission to all MSU home tennis matches is free. Also, follow live stats for all contests at mstateathletics.com.


Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The dates have been set and online registration is under way for the 2009 Mississippi State Summer Baseball Camps, to be held in June and July on the MSU campus.

This year's camp offering includes a pair of high school (grades 9-12) Team Camps, June 27-30 and June 30-July 3. The All-Skills Camp (grades 7-12) is set July 6-10, the Pitcher/Catcher Camp (grades 7-12) is scheduled July 10-12, with the Youth Day Camp (grades 1-6) completing the summer camps lineup July 13-16.

Mississippi State head baseball coach John Cohen and members of the State coaching staff will serve as the primary instructors for the '09 MSU summer baseball camp sessions. Camp sessions will be held at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium, the home of the Baseball Bulldogs, and at the spacious Palmeiro Center, the Diamond Dogs' spacious climate-controlled indoor training facility.

Complete MSU Baseball Summer Camp information and online registration is available through the official web site of the Mississippi State University Athletics Department. Just visit www.mstateathletics.com/baseballcamps for additional information or contact the MSU Baseball Office (662-325-3597).

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - On the heels of a pair of midweek wins in non-conference play, Mississippi State (18-15, 4-8 SEC) returns to Southeastern Conference action on the road this weekend, taking on the Tennessee Volunteers (13-20, 1-11 SEC) in a three-game series at UT's Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Friday's series-opener is set for 6 p.m. (CDT), and all three games of the series will be televised live regionally on SportSouth.

Pitchers Ricky Bowen and Lee Swindle combined for a five-hitter Tuesday night InHoover, Ala., as State registered its first shutout win of the campaign and completed a two-game series sweep with a 10-0 blanking of UAB. The Diamond Dogs backed that win with a dramatic 7-6 victory over instate rival Southern Miss Wednesday night at Dudy Noble Field. Junior DH Ryan Duffy delivered the game-winning blow for the Diamond Dogs, a one-out, first-pitch solo home run that broke a 6-6 deadlock and gave State its 15th win in 19 home games.

Junior lefty Tyler Whitney (2-2, 3.89) is set to make his seventh start of the season for State while the Vols will counter with junior right-hander Aaron Tullo (1-4, 5.59).

Junior infielders Russ Sneed (.371) and Jet Butler (.352) sport the top two batting averages heading into the weekend series, while junior first baseman Connor Powers (.316), who belted his team-leading ninth home run of the year Wednesday night, leads the Diamond Dogs with 36 RBI. Senior outfielder Grant Hogue (.337), second in the SEC with 20 stolen bases and tops with 12 HBPs, is hitting at a league-best .468 clip in conference play. Sophomore infielder Ryan Powers (.310) enters the series riding a team season-best 10-game hitting streak.

Volunteer sophomore outfielder/DH Josh Liles (.309) ranks among the SEC leaders with 43 hits while sophomore first baseman Cody Hawn (.333) stands fourth in the conference with 12 home runs and a .748 slugging percentage.

The Bulldogs have built up a 43-22 all-time series lead over the Volunteers and have won six of the last seven in the series. State holds a 13-10 edge in series games played in Knoxville.

The MSU-UT series continues Saturday and Sunday, with both games set for 12 p.m. (CDT) starts.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State pitchers Kelsey Nurnberg and Lindsey Dunlap tossed a pair of one-hit shutouts as the Bulldog softball team took 9-0 and 3-0 wins over Jackson State Thursday afternoon at the MSU Softball Field.

The pair of games closed out the non-conference slate for MSU and put head coach Jay Miller's squad at 20-20 overall. The Tigers fell to 18-19 on the season.

Dunlap struck out a season-high 11 in the second game of the twin bill as she faced one batter over the minimum. Nurnberg opened the day with eight strikeouts and a walk in the afternoon's opening game which was halted after five innings.

"We got to .500 on the season which is what we set-out to accomplish this week. Hopefully we can get some much-needed rest this weekend before getting into the second half of the SEC schedule," Miller said. "Lindsey and Kelsey both pitched great for us today. We needed our pitchers to step-up and dominate. It's a good sign heading to Georgia because it gives not only them, but our hitters some confidence."

Junior Chelsea Bramlett went 3-for-5 on the afternoon and scored four times. Bramlett also stole a pair of bases in the twin bill, pushing her just four shy of her single-season school record (46).

Just as they did in the first game, State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap. Bramlett led off with a bunt-single back to JSU starter Jessica Villegas. Villegas' throw sailed wide, allowing Bramlett to take third. The next batter, sophomore Brittany Bell, brought her home with a sacrifice fly to right.

Villegas, who fell to 5-5 with the loss, kept the State bats off-balance until the fourth when the Bulldogs added their final two runs of the game. Bainbridge led off with a triple to right-center, but she was thrown out at the plate on a Jessie Bailey fielder's choice.

Jessie Spain pushed the lead to 2-0 as she lined a double to left-center that scored Bailey from first. Spain moved to third on an errant throw to the plate, and she capped the scoring as she came home on a Courtney Nesbit base hit up the middle.

Only one of the runs against Villegas was earned. She also scattered seven hits and struck out two while walking a pair in the losing effort.

State's bats jumped on Jackson State starter Brittanie Talley early in the day's opening game, scoring seven runs over the first two frames.

Talley (7-8) went the full four innings, giving up seven hits and nine runs (four earned) with a strikeout and two walks.

Bramlett also sparked the Bulldog offense in the first inning of game one. The Cordova, Tenn., native led off the game with a single to center field followed by a steal of second. Bell dropped a perfect sacrifice to Tiger first baseman Kenesha Phillips, but as Phillips turned and made the throw to second, Bramlett rounded third and beat the ensuing throw to the plate.

The first-inning run would be all Nurnberg would need, but her offense added extra insurance with a six-run second. With one out in the inning, Jessie Bailey and Spain lined a pair of base hits. A Courtney Moore walk loaded the bases, and pinch-hitter Laurie Siebert drew a walk to score Jessie Bailey and push the lead to 2-0.

Bramlett followed with a ground ball to second, but an errant throw on the put-out attempt at the plate scored Spain and Elizabeth Woolven, who was pinch-running for Moore at second, and extended the lead to 4-0.

Two batters later, freshman Ka'ili Smith lined a two-out, two-run single to center field that scored Bramlett and Gates for a 6-0 advantage. Smith scored the inning's final run when Sammie Jo Bailey's ground ball to third base was thrown wide of the base.

The Bulldogs tacked on the final two runs in the fourth. Gates led off with a base hit, and after stealing second, she scored on a Bramlett double to the gap in left-center. Bramlett came around to score on the play when the throw from center field skipped to the backstop.

Wendi Reed and Alla Williams collected JSU's hits.

The Bulldogs enjoy an open weekend before heading back on the road next Wednesday for a doubleheader against Georgia. The twin bill from Athens gets underway at 4 p.m. CDT and will be broadcast live on WMSV 91.1 FM and online at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.


MSU Athletics
STARKVILLE, Miss. - FanFair, a Mississippi State fan favorite during football season on campus, will be back during Super Bulldog Weekend Presented by Regions Bank. The FanFair area, which will be located on the west lawn of the Junction, just south of the stadium, will be open from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18.

FanFair will be closed between those sessions so fans may attend the MSU-Kentucky baseball game at 1 p.m. that day against Kentucky, and again after 5:30 p.m. so that everyone can enter the football stadium for the much-anticipated Maroon-White spring game, featuring Coach Dan Mullen's football team.

FanFair will again feature many of the same events fans have become accustomed to during the regular football season - inflatable games for children, face-painting under the big tent, and pictures with Bully.

The Bulldog football team will be in attendance during the early FanFair session, signing autographs and being available for photographs. Regions Bank, the presenting sponsor for the weekend, will have a tent with fan interactive games and give-aways.

For all Super Bulldog Weekend information, fans are encouraged to visit MSU's official athletic web site, mstateathletics.com.


Gene's Page Top Stories