News from MSU Media Relations--Mar. 31

News from MSU Media Relations--Mar. 31

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

Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State has won 10-straight games at the MSU Softball Field, and the Bulldogs look to continue that run this weekend as in-state rival Ole Miss comes to campus for a three-game SEC series beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

The final two games of the series are set for 1 p.m. first pitches on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to every game is free, and a live audio stream will be available at www.mstateathletics.com/m2mlive.

Mississippi State enters the series 17-17 overall and 5-5 in SEC play after a Tuesday sweep of Alcorn State that put Bulldog head coach Jay Miller at 997 career victories. Currently in his 29th season as a head coach, Miller can become the 13th NCAA Division I coach and 18th among all divisions to reach the 1,000-win milestone.

Miller will be looking for another strong outing from his ballclub after it out-scored the Lady Braves 21-3 on Tuesday.

Senior Ali Bainbridge continues to pace the Bulldogs at the plate, hitting .389 with an SEC third-most 11 doubles, two triples and three home runs. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native has scored a team-high 33 times while driving in 11 runs.

Since moving to the leadoff spot in the order on Feb. 23, Bainbridge has hit at a .400 clip with 10 doubles and 24 runs scored.

During that same 15-game stretch, junior Ka'ili Smith has been red hot at the plate, hitting .418 with 11 RBI and 16 runs. On the season, the Kapolei, Hawaii, native has tallied a .360 average and 18 RBI. She also ranks second on the squad with 20 runs scored.

Freshman Sam Lenahan has been a key part of State's 13-1 home start. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native has hit .469 (15-for-32) at the MSU Softball Field this season, and she collected the first two triples of her career on Tuesday to go along with a .318 average, five home runs and nine doubles in her rookie season. Her 25 RBI rank three back of team leader Courtney Nesbit, who paces MSU with seven home runs.

Senior Chelsea Raines, an Ackerman, Miss., native, hit a pair of home runs on Tuesday to raise her 2011 tally to six. Raines has compiled a .306 average and eight doubles while driving in 22 runs.

The MSU bats provided plenty of support as the Mississippi State hurlers limited Alcorn to three runs and four hits in the midweek twinbill.

Sophomore Kylie Vry notched her team-leading sixth win in the opening game. The Des Moines, Iowa, native has also collected two saves this season while striking out a team-best 74 over 93.2 innings.

Junior Misty Flesher relieved Vry and collected her third save of the season. The Lone Grove, Okla., native has record 52 strikeouts over 66.1 innings.

Mississippi State's pitchers will be facing an Ole Miss squad that is hitting .254 as a unit this season.

RT Cantillo leads the way with a .322 average and nine doubles. Her 15 RBI are tied with Cali Overbeck (.305, 5 2B, 4 HR) and Londen Ladner (.301, 8 2B, 3 HR) for second on the squad behind Brittany Barnhill, who has 16 this season while hitting .247.

Lindsey Perry leads the Rebels in the circle with a 9-3 record and 2.69 ERA. She has tossed 80.2 innings and struck out 72.


Baseball
ATHENS, Ga. - Riding a five-game winning streak and sporting a season-first national ranking, Mississippi State (19-6, 4-2 SEC) opens its 17-game April schedule and a three-game SEC weekend baseball series at Georgia (11-14, 3-3 SEC) with a 5:30 p.m. CDT game at UGA's Foley Field.

The radio broadcast of all three games will be carried on the 18-station MSU Baseball Radio while live audio streaming will also be available on the internet (www.MStateAthletics.com/m2mlive) to subscribers of Maroon to the Max.

MSU, ranked 24th in Collegiate Baseball's weekly poll, set a season-high for runs scored and notched its fifth shutout of the campaign Wednesday night at Dudy Noble Field with an 18-0, seven-inning blanking of Alabama A&M. Sophomore Kendall Graveman (3-0) retired the 12 batters he faced and combined with three other State hurlers in the two-hit shutout. Senior catcher Cody Freeman paced MSU at the plate with his fourth three-hit game of the season while freshman Taylor Stark and senior Trey Johnson set career-bests with three-RBI outings.

Eupora, Miss., junior right-hander Devin Jones (2-3, 3.86) will open on the mound for State in Friday's series-opener in Athens while Georgia will counter with sophomore southpaw Alex Wood (2-3, 3.86).

Including a series-ending win at No. 1 Vanderbilt, last weekend's three-game SEC series sweep of Auburn at Dudy Noble Field and Wednesday's win over Alabama A&M, Mississippi State has claimed five consecutive wins. It matches the Diamond Dogs' 5-0 start to open the season while the four-game SEC win streak is the longest for State since a 5-0 run in 2007 when MSU advanced to its eighth appearance in the NCAA College World Series.

The MSU-UGA series concludes with 1 p.m. (CDT) games Saturday and Sunday. Mississippi State then tests No. 20 Southern Miss Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., before returning to Starkville Apr. 8-10 for a three-game Super Bulldog Weekend series against third-ranked defending SEC champion Florida.


Football
STARKVILLE, Miss. - More than a dozen former Mississippi State football players now playing in the National Football League are expected back on campus for the Bulldogs' annual Maroon-White Spring Game on April 9. Fans can meet the football alumni as they sign autographs at Fan Fair in The Junction beginning at 2 p.m.

"It's great to have those guys back on campus and involved with the program," head coach Dan Mullen said. "Those players helped lay the groundwork for what we're building here and to have them around our current players and show them the work that it takes to get to the next level is tremendous."

Among the players scheduled to participate are Pork Chop Womack, Reggie Kelly, Anthony Dixon, Kyle Love, Jamar Chaney, Jerious Norwood and others.

"Super Bulldog Weekend is a great time to welcome all of our alumni and fans back to campus in the spring," director of athletics Scott Stricklin said. "And to have our NFL alumni come back and see the love and support that the Bulldog family still has for them and the appreciation for what they've done is going to be a great addition to the weekend."

Fans are asked to bring their own items to be signed by the players, and a limit of one item signed will be requested.

Fan Fair, part of Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions, will run from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in The Junction, immediately prior to the 5 p.m. kickoff of the Maroon-White Spring Game.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Friday night lights will take on a new meaning as Mississippi State track and field hosts the Bulldog Twilight Invitational on April 1. The appropriately named Twilight is unique in that most completion will take place after the sun has retired and the lights at Maddox Track/Spencer Stadium are shining.

"This week we are changing things up a bit," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "We are going to have the college meet on Friday night and the high school meet on Saturday. Normally we do the high school meet on Friday and our athletes are tired on Saturday from working the night before, but this way we can insure our athletes are at their best when they compete."

At last week's SEC/Big Ten Challenge the men's 4x400m relay team put on quite a show as they won the event and posted the third-fastest time in the nation. This week the team looks to improve on that time, and running under the lights should only add to that excitement, as they provide a spotlight for the athletes to showcase their talents.

Sophomore Tavaris Tate, currently ranked No. 1 in the 400m dash, and junior D'Angelo Cherry, ranked No. 3 in the 100m dash, are also looking to improve their times and help the No. 8 Bulldogs move up in the rankings.

While the men are ranked No. 8, the Lady Bulldogs are hoping performances from top athletes like senior Richesa McCaleb, who has the 14th fastest time in the 200m dash, freshman Rochelle Farquharson, who has the sixth best length in the triple jump, and sophomore Haley Greenwell, who won the 3000m run last week, will help them find their way into the rankings.

The high jump will also be another event to watch, as senior Jessica Merriweather and current SEC Freshman of the Week James Harris, who respectively have the first and second highest national jumps this season are looking to represent MSU to the best of their ability.

"This meet will be much smaller compared to last week and the SEC/Big Ten Challenge," Dudley commented. "But we are going into it with the same mentality of being better than we were last week. If we keep that mind frame then there is no reason why we can't continue to climb in the rankings and compete for championships."

The meet is free to attend and will get underway Friday morning at 10 with the hammer throw and will continue into the night with the traditional meet ending with 4x400m relays taking place at 9:20 p.m.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - On Friday at 1 p.m. CT the No. 32 ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team will host the fourth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers as part of the ‘Think Pink' day at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. As part of this season's sorority challenge the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority will host Friday's match and feature ‘Think Pink' theme in relation to the Zetas philanthropy for breast cancer awareness.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 4-3 heartbreaker to No. 19 Florida that came down to a third-set tiebreaker on court one. Before that setback MSU had won four-straight and five of its previous six. State brings in a 9-6 overall record into Friday's match and a 4-2 conference record, which is tied for the western division lead in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee is 16-2 on the year, 6-0 in league play and is on a two-match win streak. The Volunteers enter the match ranked No. 4 nationally.

State boasts three-ranked singles players led by junior George Coupland who is ranked 76th in the country. Coupland has won four-straight matches, is 5-1 at home this season, is one win shy of his 10th career SEC win and 35th overall career victory in the Maroon and White. Bulldog junior Louis Cant ranks 76th nationally and is winner of five-straight and six of his last seven. Cant is an impressive 5-1 in SEC play, 10-3 in dual matches and is one win away from his 10th career SEC win and 50th career singles victory. Also ranked is junior Artem Ilyushin who is 94th. Ilyushin has won three of his previous four matches and recently eclipsed 30 career dual match wins.

Other notable Bulldogs include freshman Malte Stropp who has won five-straight and nine of his last 10. Stropp, who has been honored as the conferences' Freshman of the Week three time this season, is 10-2 in dual matches, 4-1 in league play and 18-5 overall. Bulldog sophomore James Chaudry began his dual match career 7-0 before dropping his first match and currently stands at 9-2 right now. Fellow newcomer Zach White has won four of his last five matches and has won five-straight tiebreakers.

In doubles the Maroon and White boast two-ranked doubles teams. Coupland and White are ranked 55th nationally and Cant and Stropp stand 84th and have earned a team-best 12 wins this year.

UT boasts five ranked singles players led by sophomore Rhyne Williams who is No. 4 nationally. Senior John-Patrick Smith ranks 12th and has only dropped two dual matches; Tennys Sandgren, a sophomore for the Vols, is ranked 48th and is a perfect 14-0 in dual match play; senior Matteo Fago is No. 58 in the country and fellow senior Boris Conkic is ranked No. 121.

In doubles, Tennessee has three ranked national duos including the No. 1 nationally ranked doubles team, Conkic and Smith. Sandgren and Williams stand at 61st nationally followed by Conkic and Williams who are ranked 72nd.

The Bulldogs and Volunteers will begin competition at 1 p.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre where admission is free to all home MSU tennis matches. Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State's women's tennis team (2-10, 0-6 SEC) continues their SEC road swing as they head to Knoxville and take on the 16th ranked Volunteers of Tennessee (12-4, 5-0 SEC).

Coming off a big doubles upset for the Lady Bulldogs is the duo of Alexandra Perper and Olesya Tsigvintseva. The MSU tandem battled and took down the 34th ranked Razorback pair of Dominika Kanakova and Dijana Stojic last Friday.

Juniors Mariia Ryzhova and Jordan Zachary along with sophomore Danielle Terpko will make the trip east this weekend as well for the Lady Bulldogs. Terpko is battling for three more victories to earn her 20th win with MSU.

Lady Bulldog senior Elizabeth Hall has competed in No. 3 doubles as well as court 6 in singles for State this season and hopes to continue her success in Knoxville. Freshman Vivian Pietraroia seeks to continue her competitive action this weekend as well.

Tennessee boasts three athletes ranked amongst the top 100 in the country and have posted a perfect 5-0 record in conference play.

Match time is slated for 3 p.m. CT at the Goodfried Indoor Tennis Center.

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

Following Friday's match in Knoxville, the Lady Bulldogs will travel to Athens and take on 7th ranked Georgia on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT.


Women's Golf
OXFORD, Miss. - Coach Ginger Brown-Lemm hopes facing in-state rival Ole Miss will inspire her squad to finish a strong season with a big statement at the Rebel Intercollegiate.

The Lady Bulldogs head to the par-72, 6,351 Ole Miss Golf Course coming off a seventh-place finish at the John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate. The finish was MSU's third-best finish of the year, and the 917-team clip was second-best tally of the season.

The 2012 Rebel Intercollegiate field includes two other SEC schools - Tennessee and host Ole Miss - along with Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Kansas, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Missouri, Murray State, Rollins, SMU, South Florida, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, and Central Florida.

MSU will start the same lineup it has used much of the 2011 spring season: seniors Erika Thornton and Mallory Batson, sophomore Maria Roos, and freshmen Mary Langdon Gallagher and Esther Huffman.

Thornton and Batson will be played their final regular season tournament in the Maroon and White. In their careers, the duo has played in 191 rounds over 68 tournaments. Thornton is currently seventh all-time in career stroke average in the MSU record books. Batson owns the Lady Bulldogs' second-best stroke average per round this season (76.77).

Roos is making her seventh tournament appearance of the year and fourth of the spring slate. After carding 34th- and 104th-place finishes in the fall, she stepped up her game and led MSU in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic with 10-over par 226.

Gallagher and Huffman have not wasted any time making a splash in the SEC. Gallagher heads to Oxford fresh off a 3-over par, fifth-place finish at the John Kirk /Panther Intercollegiate where she set a new career-low round of 70. Huffman begins play with the team's third-best scoring average per round (79.26) on the team behind the senior duo.

First-round action begins 8:00 a.m. CT Friday. Live stats will be available through www.mstateathletics.com.

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