AUBURN, Ala. - Erin Nesbit hit the game-winning home runs in both games as Mississippi State swept Auburn by scores of 3-2 and 2-1 Wednesday evening at Jane B. Moore Field.
Nesbit hit the game-clinching home run in the sixth inning of the opener before breaking a 1-1 tie in game two with a fifth-inning drive, her sixth of the season, over the fence in right-center. The freshman from Acworth, Ga., also added a double in the series opener en route to a 3-for-5, two-RBI afternoon.
"Erin was our offense today," Mississippi State head coach Jay Miller said. "She had been struggling a little bit, especially in SEC play. Two games like the ones she had tonight will help her continue to grow as a hitter."
Senior All-American Chelsea Bramlett continued her stellar season, going 5-for-7, including a pair of triples, as Mississippi State swept the Tigers for the first time since the 2001 season.
Misty Flesher and Lindsey Dunlap went the distance in both games as the Dawgs improved to 26-24 overall and 7-15 in SEC play. The pair of wins moved the Maroon and White one game ahead of Auburn (23-22, 6-16 SEC) for the eighth position in the race to the SEC Tournament.
"This was the first time we've had back-to-back great games from our pitchers. It's nice we finally got one, and hopefully that's a good sign heading into our final two weekends," Miller said. "If they can pitch like that, we have an opportunity to beat both Florida and Alabama. You want your pitchers to give you an opportunity to win ballgames.
"Auburn was the team we had to get ahead of if we are going to make the SEC Tournament," Miller said. "We did that with these two wins, and now we have to get a couple more wins over the next two weekends. If we can do that, we have a chance at making both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments."
Flesher picked up her third-straight decision in the afternoon's opening game to improve to 12-8 on the season. The Lone Grove, Okla., native went the distance for the second-consecutive game, allowing two runs and seven hits while striking out a pair.
Bramlett opened the game with a triple over the drawn-in infield, but State was unable to capitalize as she was tagged out at home on an Ali Bainbridge ground ball to second base.
State, however, did manage to plate the leadoff runner in the second inning. Courtney Nesbit bounced a single through the right side of the infield. Pinch-runner Allie Heon moved to second on a walk to Erin Nesbit. After a pair of infield flyouts, Bramlett hit a bouncer up the middle that put the Dawgs up 1-0 and chased AU starter Lauren Schmalz from the circle.
Auburn pushed the tying run across in the bottom of the second as Elizabeth Eisterhold hit a one-out single and came around to score on a base hit from Kelley Smiley, who matched Krista Clyde with a pair of base hits in the game.
State regained the lead in the top of the fourth off AU reliever Anna Thompson. Erin Nesbit hit a one-out double, and two batters later, Birmingham, Ala., native Jessie Spain gave the Dawgs a 2-1 advantage with a double to the left-field corner.
Auburn knotted the game at two runs apiece in the bottom of the fifth when Lauren Guzman singled home Katie Colton. Amber Harrison reached on an error, but State answered in the sixth as Erin Nesbit lined her first home run of the day to left field to give MSU a 3-2 lead.
Thompson took the loss to fall to 13-8 on the year. She allowed two runs and three hits over 3.2 innings.
Dunlap picked up the win in the nightcap as she allowed a run and four hits while striking out five.
State staked her to a quick lead with a run in the opening inning. Ka'ili Smith bounced a two-out single up the middle. Brittany Bell followed with a double off the wall in right-center, and Smith took third before coming home when the shortstop Guzman mishandled the throw to the infield.
Dunlap retired seven of the first nine Auburn hitters she faced before Kyndall White hit a towering home run to left field with one out in the third that tied the game 1-1.
Mississippi State, however, answered with the decisive blow in the fifth on Nesbit's second round-tripper of the day, a leadoff shot that just missed the flag pole in right-center.
A pair of walks in the home half of the fifth inning put the lead run on base for the Tigers, but the Dawgs ended the threat as Smith made a leaping snag at the left field wall on a Guzman fly ball.
Angel Bunner, AU's starter in game two, retired MSU in order to give the Tigers a chance to tie or win in the bottom of the seventh. After retiring the first two hitters of the inning, Dunlap surrendered a pair of walks before Guzman reached on a ground ball to third that was mishandled by State's Jessie Bailey. Eisterhold hit a towering shot to center field that appeared to have a chance to leave the yard, but Brittany Gates corralled it to clinch the sweep for MSU.
Bunner fell to 6-8 as she allowed the two runs (one earned) on six hits. She struck out three in the complete-game effort.
The Bulldogs return to action May 1-2, hosting No. 4 Florida in a three-game league series at the MSU Softball Field.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Tanner Stump of the Mississippi State men's tennis team has been selected to the Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Community Service team as released by the league office.
Stump is a junior from Bradenton, Fla., and has earned two letters and compiled 44 career victories in his time at MSU.
Off the court Stump represents the Maroon and White throughout the community. Recently Stump visited and participated in activities with children at Sudduth Elementary in Starkville. He has also worked at MSU's tennis camp, helping develop children's tennis skills. Last summer he volunteered at a camp for underprivileged children and also assisted in a community canned food drive run by the student-athletes of Mississippi State.
"Tanner (Stump) has done a great job on and off the court," said Bulldog head coach Per Nilsson. "He's been a great representative of our team and Mississippi State University."
Stump is a business administration major and recently won the Newsome Award for men's tennis which is awarded to the MSU student-athlete who boasts the highest grade point average for his team.
Track and Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Competing in front of what is expected to be nearly 40,000 people, the Mississippi State track and field teams will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., to contend at the 116th running at the prestigious 2010 Penn Relays, starting at 10:00 a.m. Thursday with the College Women's 400-meter Hurdles.
ESPN2 will broadcast selected events on a tape-delayed basis, beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
"The Penn Relays is our chance to compete in the 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays alongside top ranked Texas A&M, SEC foe Florida and teams from Jamaica," said 22nd year coach Al Schmidt, whose men's team is currently ranked No. 10 nationally.
Competing in the men's top ranked 4x400-meter relay event are MSU hopefuls O'Neal Wilder, Dwight Mullings, Tavaris Tate and Kendall May.
Sophomores Justin Christian and Cherry are set to compete in the open 100-meter dash at this week's meet.
Battling some of the best schools in the country, the Lady Bulldogs' 4x200-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay teams of Crystal Wilson, LaQuinta Aaron, Jody-Ann Muir and Taneisha Baker are within seconds of setting a two school records at the Penn Relays.
MSU hopefuls Keshia Wallace, LaQuinta Aaron, Racquel Farguharson and Talisha Lee will bid for the number one spot in the Women's 4x100-meter college women's shuttle hurdle.
In the women's field events, Senior Wendy Copeland looks to finish out her final season on top in the long jump with high marks before the SEC Outdoor Championship.
"This is the first of three rounds of championships that we will compete in this season, and we are pretty excited to dual it out against some of the best teams in the nation and Jamaica," Schmidt said.
ATHENS, Ga., - Eleventh-seeded Mississippi State (9-12, 1-10 SEC) faces off with sixth-seeded Vanderbilt (12-8, 7-4 SEC) Thursday afternoon in first round action of the 2010 SEC Women's Tennis Tournament. Match time between the Lady Bulldogs and VU is slated for 1 p.m. CT at Georgia's Henry Field Courts.
Mississippi State enters Thursday's contest looking to rebound from late season losses in the SEC, while Vanderbilt rides a three-match win streak into Thursday's affair. The 29th-ranked Commodores closed out their season last week with a 6-1 win over Kentucky.
The two teams have met once this season; with Vandy taking a 7-0 triumph over MSU at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Meanwhile, the squads also clashed in the first round of last year's tournament, where Vanderbilt took a 4-0 win over the Lady Bulldogs. The Commodores then went on to lose to Florida in the second round.
It has been an up-and-down season for MSU. First year head coach Daryl Greenan led the team to an 8-1 record to begin the year, with wins over 57th-ranked Georgia State and 72nd-ranked College of Charleston. That 8-1 start was the best start in school history by a first year coach, while the team's 5-2 win over Kentucky marked the first time in school history that a coach has won his or her first SEC affair. The Lady Bulldogs then finished the season in the rigorous SEC, where they lost eight-straight to end the year.
Vanderbilt returned a strong team for the 2010 season and brings a talented squad into Thursday's match. The Commodores have three players ranked in singles in No. 28 Catherine Newman, No. 30 Jackie Wu, and 88th-ranked Chelsea Preeg.
The winner of Thursday's contest takes on third-seeded Tennessee in the second round.