Trailing 4-0 heading to the top of the fourth, the Mississippi State softball team exploded for eight runs on four hits on its way to a 12-4 five-inning triumph at Charleston Southern Friday afternoon at the CSU Softball Stadium. State's largest come-from-behind win in two years improved the Bulldogs to 20-6 overall, while the host Buccaneers fell to 5-19 on the season.
"The whole goal is the process," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "It was not fun to get down early, but it was nice to see us respond that way, have some experience with it and walk away from today knowing we can do it in the future."
The Bulldogs wrapped up their spring break road trip with a perfect 4-0 record, with wins against CSU, Jacksonville State and a doubleheader sweep of College of Charleston. Stuedeman's offense outscored opponents by an average of eight runs on the week (39-7), highlighted by a season-high eight-run fourth inning Friday, its most in a single frame since plating eight in the first inning against Jackson State on April 10, 2012. State finished the road trip with three-consecutive run-rule victories for the first time since winning five-straight game-shortened contests from Feb. 29-March 3, 2012. The 13-game non-conference winning streak is tied for the third-longest such streak in school history.
Redshirt sophomore designated player Briana Bell had the best day of her career, recording career highs with two home runs and five RBIs to go along with a career-best tying two hits and two runs. Redshirt junior Erin Nesbit tallied a career-high three hits, scoring once and driving in a teammate. Junior slugger Sam Lenahan started at catcher and went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and runs thanks to a double and a triple.
"When Briana finds her barrel, it's going to be well hit," Stuedeman explained. "She is so competitive and resilient at the plate. She was on fire today."
In the circle, senior left-hander Stephanie Becker replaced starter Kylie Vry with zero outs in the first inning to earn her sixth win of the season (6-1). The southpaw gave up just one hit for the game, striking out eight in five shutout innings. In her last five appearances toeing the rubber, Becker has fanned 33 batters, gone 3-0 and registered a near-perfect 0.30 ERA.
After outscoring its opponents on spring break by a 12-0 margin in the first, the tables turned on MSU in the opening frame Friday. Charleston Southern leadoff hitter Trea Steele was hit by a pitch to start the contest, and scored thanks to a two-run home run by Stephanie Sbardella. Marci Christian followed up the long ball with one of her own, a solo shot to center field to make it 3-0 in favor of the home team. A throwing error by the Bulldogs' third baseman allowed Jana Matthews to reach first and take second, before scoring on a double to the gap in left center by Linzy Rother.
Down four runs heading to the fourth inning, the light switched turned on and the Bully Bombers started bombing balls throughout the softball complex. After senior Jessica Cooley walked, Bell detonated her first long shot of the day with a two-run bleacher blast to left. Nesbit then singled through the left side and advanced to second once senior Shelby Fisher reached on a fielder's choice when the CSU second baseman sailed a throw past shortstop trying to force Nesbit out. Freshman Loryn NIchols loaded the bases with a single through the 5-6 hole.
With the bases juiced, Offutt knocked in the third MSU run with a groundout to third, followed by a suicide squeeze by junior Heidi Shape that plated Fisher. After Shape stole second to join Nichols in scoring position, Lenahan cleared the bases with her first triple in 104 games. Cooley was then hit in her second at-bat of the inning and immediately swiped second, which in turn led to the bases being covered again thanks to a base on balls by Bell. Nesbit was then hit by a pitch to knock "Slammin'" Sam in. The eighth and final run of the fourth came when Fisher hit a laser on the ground to shortstop, allowing Cooley to tap the dish for the second time in the inning thanks to another Buccaneer defensive miscue.
Getting their second wind in the fifth, the Bulldogs matched the inning total with a five spot in the frame. State started with two quick outs before Lenahan doubled down the left-field line. The slugger scored easily when junior Logan Foulks barely missed a home run with a standup double off the top of the wall in right field. Having entered the game in the bottom of the fourth, sophomore Ashley Phillips put runners at the corners when she reached on a fielding error by the CSU third baseman. Both runners were brought home when Bell muscled one over the left field wall again for her second home run and the final three runs of the game.
Starkville's Team returns home Wednesday to finish its home-and-home against No. 22 Louisiana-Lafayette. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. CT at the MSU Softball Stadium. Admission is free for those that can attend, but for those that cannot, live video and audio streaming of the game will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
"We need all the Maroon and White faithful out at the MSU Softball Stadium this Wednesday night," Stuedeman said. "Be loud, bring your support and help us win."
For live in-game updates of MSU's non-conference clash with the Ragin' Cajuns, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.
Battling its third-consecutive top 25 opponent, the No. 13 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (12-5, 2-3 SEC) dropped a tight match to No. 23 Vanderbilt (12-4, 3-1 SEC) 4-3 at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre Friday afternoon.
State will conclude its four-match homestand Sunday afternoon as the Bulldogs welcome No. 10 Kentucky, a 4-1 upset winner at No. 4 Ole Miss Friday, to Starkville. Start time is set for 1 p.m. CT.
Vanderbilt jumped ahead early Friday by taking the doubles point with victories on courts two and three. VU's Rhys Johnson and Jeff Offerdahl defeated MSU's Romain Bogaerts and Pedro Dumont on court three 8-4, while the Vandy duo of Gonzales Austin and Suresh Eswaran took an 8-6 victory against State's Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson on court two to clinch the doubles point. Play on court one was suspended as MSU's No. 14 tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp were leading Vandy's Ryan Lipman and Marc van der Merwe 7-6.
The Bulldogs fired back in singles play with victories on courts four, two and three. After a lengthy game early in the match, MSU senior James Chaudry dropped only one game in his match on court four, cruising past VU's van der Merwe 6-1, 6-0 to get the Bulldogs on the board.
State's 59th-ranked Stropp followed Chaudry's performance with another victory for MSU, defeating No. 54 Austin of Vanderbilt 6-0, 7-6(5) at No. 2. On court three, the MSU freshman Angus earned his team-leading 13th win of the spring, defeating VU's Offerdahl 6-3, 6-3, putting State up 3-1.
But Vandy answered back with three straight wins of its own to steal the match from the Bulldogs. First was a 6-3, 6-3 victory from No. 19 Lipman against MSU's No. 19 Bogaerts on court one. The equalizer came when VU's Kris Yee defeated MSU's White 6-2, 7-5 on court five.
The match then came down to court six, where MSU freshman Stefan Vinti and Vanderbilt freshman Johnson battled into a deciding third set. The two went back-and-forth until Vinti earned a late break to go ahead 6-5. However, Johnson would break back to force a tiebreaker. Johnson would go on to take the match and clinch the Commodores victory 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(1).
For more information on Mississippi State men's tennis, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstatemt) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstatemt).
Mississippi State true freshman Georgiana Patrasc posted a straight-set victory at the No. 1 position as the Lady Bulldog tennis squad dropped a 6-1 decision on the road to No. 13 Vanderbilt Friday.
With the loss, State fell to 6-7 overall, 0-5 in SEC play. Vanderbilt improved to 11-5, 4-1.
Vanderbilt began doubles competition with an 8-0 victory at No. 3 position, where VU's duo of Frances Altick and Georgiana Sellyn took down MSU's Roseline Dion and Sarai Flores. The Lady Commodores sealed the doubles point with a court 2 victory from the No. 29 ranked pair of Courtney Colton and Lauren Mira over MSU's Petra Ferancova and Georgiana Patrasc 8-1. The match on court 1 between Vanderbilt's Ashleigh Antal and Marie Casares and MSU's No. 46 ranked pair of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran was suspended when the doubles point was clinched.
Vanderbilt continued the momentum into singles, claiming three straight-set triumphs to clinch the match. The No. 74 ranked Sellyn of Vanderbilt claimed the first singles victory, defeating MSU's Van Geel 6-1, 6-0 at the No. 4 position. Altick of the Lady Commodores posted the next win, taking down Lady Bulldog freshman Flores in a 6-0, 6-0 decision on court 6. VU's Antal clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Roseline Dion at the No. 5 position.
MSU's Perper made a valiant effort to come back on court 2, splitting sets before dropping her match against VU's Casares 7-6(4), 3-6, 1-0(5).
The State rookie Patrasc then posted the lone MSU victory of the day, ousting Vanderbilt's No. 46 ranked Mira in an impressive 7-5, 6-3 decision at the No. 1 position, raising her dual match singles record to 8-5, 3-2 in SEC, in her initial campaign at MSU.
Tran of MSU completed the day's competition, falling in a tough 6-3, 7-6(3) decision at the No. 3 position to VU's Colton.
"We competed hard, especially at the top of the lineup today," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "We didn't have a great chance in doubles, but once again our top three could have made it a 4-3 match. I am proud of Georgiana for stepping up and earning another ranked win, this time over the No. 46 player in the nation."
Lady Bulldog tennis will remain on the road to face No. 38 Kentucky on Sunday at 11 a.m. Central time. Updates will be available through twitter @mstateWT and hailstate.com.
Battling one of the nation's strongest fields, the Mississippi State women's golf team tied a season-best with a 13-over-par 293 in the first round of the SunTrust Gator Invitational to earn a share of fifth-place, beating three Top 25 teams.
The Lady Bulldogs' 293 ties their season-best set just last weekend in the final round of the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational and is the program's third-lowest opening round in its history.
"I was so pleased with our team today," MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "We focused in every event on our routine and our job on the course. We disregarded who was in the field, got our job taken care of and let the chips fall where they may. Today was a great example of believing in and practicing that ideology."
MSU finished the opening round ahead of No. 49 Florida State (294), No. 18 Baylor (293), No. 15 Virginia (297) and No. 6 North Carolina (301). State is tied with No. 21 Oklahoma State and is only eight strokes back of tournament-leader No. 4 Oklahoma (285). No. 3 Alabama (286) and No. 5 Florida (289) round out the Top 3.
"Anytime you can open with a 293 on this course and beat teams like North Carolina, Virginia, Baylor, it just shows we are sticking to our plan," Brown-Lemm added.
Sophomore Ally McDonald and freshman Gabi Oubre' each notched 1-over 71's and are tied for 10th. McDonald entered the event fresh off a runner-up finish last weekend and is on pace for her fifth Top 5 card in seven events this year.
Oubre', still in search of her first-career Top 25, set a new career-best and tied the sixth-lowest opening round by a freshman in MSU history.
Warren turned in a season-best 3-over-par 73 to earn a share of 20th-place. The sophomore narrowly missed her first-career Top 25 card just two tournaments ago as she tied for 26th in the Westbrook Invitational to begin the spring.
Mary Langdon Gallagher and Rica Tse rounded out the Lady Bulldogs' leaderboard with a 78 and 81, respectively.
Sixth-ranked Stephanie Meadow of Alabama and Portland Rosen of Virginia each turned in 2-under-par 68's to take control of the individual race after 18 holes.
Second-round action will begin at 8 a.m. CST Saturday with the Lady Bulldogs slated to tee off alongside Miami and Oklahoma State at 8:45 a.m.
"Tomorrow the work begins," Brown-Lemm said. "Our middle rounds have been the weakest so far this year but we intend to change that here."
Live stats will be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the women's golf program through Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG and on Twitter at @mstateWG.
Aided by its lowest opening-round of the season, Mississippi State finished day one of the Seminole Intercollegiate with a 10-under-par, 278 second-place card.
The No. 36 ranked Bulldogs finished only one stroke behind tournament leader and host No. 17 Florida State on Friday. Last season, FSU won the Seminole Intercollegiate by one stroke over Georgia Tech.
"I thought we really got some momentum going toward the end of the round," Coach Clay Homan said. "We struggled a bit early on with the speed on the greens, because they were much quicker today. It's a different kind of test this weekend where lots of birdies will be made, so we will have to stay aggressive."
The Bulldogs had three golfers place in the top six for the first round, the most of any school at the Seminole Intercollegiate. Juniors Axel Boasson and Joe Sakulpolphaisan tied for third, while senior Robi Calvesbert tied for sixth.
Boasson's five birdies propelled the junior to a 4-under-par, 68. Sakulpolphaisan nailed six birdies along with an eagle on hole No. 16 to gain his 4-under-par. The opening-round 68 by the pair was the lowest first-round cards by any Bulldog on the season.
Calvesbert turned in a personal season-low with his 3-under-par, 69. The 69 for senior Bulldog is the lowest round of the season for him. The sixth-place tie was thanks in part to his seven birdies on the day.
After his 3-under-par win at Grand National, SEC Player of the Week and junior Bulldog Chad Ramey finished round one in Tallahassee with a 1-over-par, 73.The Fulton, Miss., native is currently in 34th place. Ramey has finished with at least a top-10 performance five out of his last seven tournaments.
Rounding out the Maroon and White lineup from Tallahassee was true freshman Haraldur Magnus. The Iceland product fired off a 2-over-par, 74 to tie for the 39th spot in his first action of the spring.
Sophomore Fletcher Johnson competed as an individual at the Seminole Intercollegiate, shooting a 15-over par, 87.
The Bulldogs will tee off from Southwood at 9:26 a.m. with Magnus leading off alongside FSU's Bjorn Hellgren and Coastal Carolina's Easton Renwick.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the men's golf program through Facebook at facebook.com/mstateMG and on Twitter at @mstateMG.