News from MSU Media Relations--March 6, 2012

News from MSU Media Relations--March 6, 2012

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

Track and Field

Mississippi State Bulldogs Ranked Sixth In USTFCCCA Poll

STARKVILLE, Miss. - As the NCAA Indoor Championships approach, Mississippi State finds its men's indoor track and field team ranked sixth in the latest United States Track and Field and Cross County Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll.

In what will be the last rankings before the national championships, MSU is one of seven SEC teams ranked in the Top 25, including defending champions Florida who is No. 1 and Arkansas who is a close second. The seven ranked SEC team's ties with the Big Ten for the most ranked teams. Both premier conferences' athletes will compete later this month at the SEC/Big Ten Challenge which will be hosted by MSU on March 23.

The Bulldogs have six athletes ranked individually in five different categories, with Tavaris Tate leading the way with three rankings. Tate's highest ranking is in the 400-meter dash where he is second, followed by an eighth place spot in the 200-meter dash. Tate is also a member of the No- 2 ranking 4x400-meter relay team that also includes teammates James Harris, Daundre Barnaby and Emanuel Mayers. The 4x400-meter relay is not the only time that James Harris finds himself ranked, as the sophomore is also ranked second in the high jump, just ahead of teammate Marcus Jackson who is in seventh. Sprinter D'Angelo Cherry rounds out the ranked Bulldogs as he comes in at No. 4 in the 60-meter dash.

While not ranked as a team, the Lady Bulldogs do have one member ranked individually. Erica Bougard, who has had a stellar freshman year for the Maroon and White, is ranked fifth in the pentathlon.

The NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by Boise State University in Nampa, Idaho on March 9-10.


Softball

Bulldog Softball Kicks Off SEC Schedule By Hosting No. 3/4 Florida

Starkville, Miss. - Softball's second season will begin Wednesday afternoon as the Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-5) host No. 3/4 Florida (19-1) at the MSU Softball Stadium in a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Admission is free for both teams' Southeastern Conference opener.

"We are excited about starting the second season," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "Ultimately, the game has no memory, so what has happened so far this year does not matter. We are going to focus on one pitch at a time and one moment at a time."

With a 14-5 record, the first-year head coach's mark through 19 games is the best start by any active SEC head softball coach in their first year at their current school. Under the leadership of Stuedeman, the Maroon and White have won six-straight games and are riding its longest winning streak since winning eight in a row from Feb. 13-25, 2009. As a result, MSU picked up votes in Tuesday's ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top-25 poll.

Offensively, State ranks near the top in most SEC categories, including: batting average (4th), slugging percentage (4th), on-base percentage (3rd), hits (3rd), doubles (4th), triples (T-2nd) and total bases (4th). The Bulldogs are led by reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week Jessica Cooley and redshirt senior Brittany Bell. Cooley earned the nod after hitting .526 with 17 RBIs and five home runs this past week. The SEC Player of the Week became the second player in school history to receive the national accolade, joining two-time All-American and SEC Player of the Year Iyhia McMichael (Feb. 24, 2004). Bell has mashed the ball as well in 2012, leading the conference in batting average (.500) and on-base percentage (.647), while ranking second in slugging percentage (1.000).

Inside the circle, junior southpaw Stephanie Becker anchors a dynamic staff that has lowered last year's school-record high 4.90 ERA to a much more manageable 1.82 clip. Entering conference play, the Chicago native has already matched last year's win total with a sterling 7-1 record. Tying teammate Kylie Vry for the team lead in strikeouts (45), Becker has gone the distance four times and recorded three shutouts this season.

It will take more than a Bully bite to drag down the Gators though, as the Orange and Blue enter Wednesday's contest with a conference-high 19 wins. With eight home runs, UF's Kelsey Horton will face Cooley in a matchup of the two SEC home-run leaders. Cooley and her teammates will step into the box and see UF's Hannah Rogers standing in the circle, who is a perfect 10-0 with a 0.58 ERA.

Veranda owner Jay Yates will throw out the first pitch and biological science major Carsyn Byars will sing the national anthem. Local youth groups are invited to come celebrate Church Night with the Bulldog softball team and along with all fans, be able to participate in Bulldog Bingo and movie trivia. As always, softball aficionados will have the chance to win a Vanntastic t-shirt with every extra-base hit.

Following the SEC opener, Starkville's team will return to the Dawg Diamond Friday for the beginning of a three-game series against No. 7/7 Georgia. The Maroon and White host the red and black Bulldogs Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. both days. For more information regarding the showdown, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB.


Men's Tennis

No. 12 Bulldog Tennis Drops 4-3 Heartbreaker To No. 3 Virginia

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's 12th-ranked men's tennis squad (11-3) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to the visiting third-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (9-1) during an epic top 15 matchup on the MSU campus Tuesday afternoon.

The contest was only the second meeting between the two schools as Virginia took the first meeting 4-2 in the second-round of the 2004 NCAA Championship in Charlottesville.

With a tight match that came to a 3-3 tie after a grueling three-plus hours of competition, all eyes turned to the top position in the lineup where a classic battle between two top 30 competitors ensued. Ranked 27th in the country, MSU senior Artem Ilyushin had taken a quick 6-2 decision from Virginia's 8th-ranked Jermere Jenkins in the first set early on. Battling back, Jenkins would find himself splitting with Ilyushin as he took the second 6-3.

In the third, Ilyushin would immediately break his Cavalier foe but Jenkins would break right back and hold serve, taking a 2-1 lead. The players stayed even to 3-3 when Ilyushin broke again for a 4-3 lead, but once again Jenkins answered with a break of his own to 4-4. Jenkins was then able to hold serve and break in the final game of the match for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision, giving UVA the 4-3 decision over Mississippi State.

State got the early lead in the match by taking the doubles point. In the second position for State was the tandem of George Coupland and Ilyushin. Taking the first decision in doubles, the MSU duo notched an 8-5 decision over Virginia's Jenkins and Phillippe Oudshoorn.

The Cavaliers responded quickly as Mitchell Frank and Julen Uriguen downed MSU's James Chaudry and Zach White 8-4 in the third spot, leaving the doubles point to be decided on court 1.

Battling on No. 1 for the Dogs was the 23rd-ranked tandem of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp. As Bulldog duo battled Virginia's 60th-ranked pair of Alex Domijan and Steven Rooda, the match would battle back and forth until MSU was able to break Virginia at 7-7 and serve to win the match 9-7 and the doubles point for the Bulldogs.

Swinging into singles play, in the No. 2 position for MSU was Chaudry where he faced Virginia's 53rd-ranked Domijan. Taking a close first set 6-4, Domijan would press harder as he took the second set and match 6-4, 6-2, evening the match at 1-1 for the Cavaliers. Virginia's Uriguen would give the Cavaliers their first lead of the day as he downed MSU's White 7-5, 6-2 in the No. 6 spot.

However, the Bulldogs would battle back as the 41st-ranked Coupland ended another fiery battle at the No. 5 position against Virginia's Oudshoorn, fighting him off for a 7-5, 7-6(3) victory.

The Cavaliers would again regain the lead as the top-ranked player in the country, Frank, would take a 7-5, 6-3 decision from 75th-ranked Stropp of MSU, giving UVA a 3-2 lead.

Tying the match for the third time was MSU's No. 37 Cant who mounted an impressive comeback on court 4. Dueling with Virginia's 72nd-ranked Justin Shane, Cant dropped a 6-3 decision in the first set but would storm back and down Shane 6-2 in the second. In a tight third, Cant would eventually oust his Cavalier foe 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 and even the match at 3-3, setting up the dramatic finish at No. 1.

Mississippi State will be back in action this Friday, March 9, when they take on sixth-ranked Georgia at 1:30 p.m. CT in Athens, Ga.

#3 Virginia 4, #12 Mississippi State 3
3/6/12 - A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre - Starkville, Miss.

DOUBLES

  • 1) #23 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) def. #60 Alex Domijan/ Steven Rooda (UVA) 9-7
  • 2) George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) def. Jarmere Jenkins/Phillippe Oudshoorn (UVA) 8-5
  • 3) Mitchell Frank/Julen Uriguen (UVA) def. James Chaudry/Zach White (MSU) 8-4

    SINGLES

  • 1) #8 Jenkins (UVA) def. #27 Ilyushin (MSU) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
  • 2) #53 Domijan (UVA) def. Chaudry (MSU) 6-4, 6-2
  • 3) #1 Frank (UVA) def. #75 Stropp (MSU) 7-5, 6-3
  • 4) #37 Cant (MSU) def. #72 Justin Shane (UVA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
  • 5) #41 Coupland (MSU) def. Oudshoorn (UVA) 7-5, 7-6(3)
  • 6) Uriguen (UVA) def. White (MSU) 7-5, 6-2

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