As the midway point of the spring practice schedule nears, Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen will put his charges through their first full scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. The scrimmage is scheduled to begin at noon and is open to fans.
"We finished our big installations yesterday, and now we'll open it up on Saturday and see who sinks and who swims," Mullen said. "I like the energy and intensity we've shown this spring, and I know our guys are looking forward to stepping into the stadium and playing football."
Mississippi State continues its spring drills for the next two weeks in preparation of the annual Maroon-White Spring Game, set for April 20 at 1 p.m. as part of Super Bulldog Weekend.
Saturday's scrimmage, like all spring practices, is open to fans. Due to the ongoing renovation and expansion at Davis Wade Stadium, fans planning on attending should enter through the southeast corner (Junction end and skybox side) of the stadium.
For the fourth-consecutive season, senior day at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre ended in victory, as the 13th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis squad (14-7, 4-5 SEC) took down No. 20 South Carolina (15-8, 5-4 SEC) 4-2 Friday to close out regular season home play.
With the win, State improved its all-time record against the Gamecocks to 15-10, while upping its home record against the SEC East foe to 8-4. The Bulldogs have also won the last three meetings in the series.
South Carolina grabbed an early edge against the Bulldogs, as the Gamecocks took the doubles point with victories on courts one and three. The USC duo of Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov, ranked 21st in the nation, defeated the No. 15 MSU tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp 8-1 on court one to start off doubles play. However, State fired back as the Bulldog team of Romain Bogaerts and Zach White defeated South Carolina's No. 55 duo of Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies 8-6 on court 2.
Play on court three went back and forth, as the two teams battled for a chance to take the early lead in the team match. The teams traded holds late in the match to force a deciding tiebreaker, but the Gamecock team of Thiago Pinheiro and Andrew Adams escaped with a win, defeating MSU's Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson 9-8(4) to clinch the doubles point for USC.
Looking to bounce back in singles, State leveled the score with a victory on court six, as the freshman Dumont cruised against USC's Menzies 6-2, 6-2. USC would then jump back out in front, going up 2-1 as MSU's White fell to South Carolina's Koch 7-5, 6-2 on court five.
State would once again even the score with perhaps the day's most crucial victory. MSU's Angus found himself down to USC's Cox 5-2 in the first set, but would not flinch, instead battling back to force a tiebreaker. Angus again found himself down, as he trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker, but fought back again, eventually taking the first set 7-6(7). The second set proved to not be as troublesome for Angus as he defeated Cox 7-6(7), 6-3 to tie the team match at 2-2.
Play then came down to the top three courts, with each team needing two victories to clinch the match. After dropping the first set on court two, MSU's No. 50 Stropp came back to defeat his fourth ranked opponent of the year, beating USC's No. 90 Adams 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a hard-fought battle.
A point away from victory, the two teams battled it out on courts one and three, but the top spot would prove to be the decider. After splitting the first two sets, the match between MSU's No. 20 Bogaerts and USC's Mihov would come down to a final set. Bogaerts only relinquished two games in the final set, storming to victory against Mihov 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and wrapping the team match in Maroon and White.
Play on court three was suspended at that point, as USC's Pinheiro led MSU senior James Chaudry 6-7(2), 6-3, 5-3. Chaudry had fought off several match points in the game, putting it at 40-40 when suspended.
"Tough match today, but we pulled out a big win, especially on senior day," head coach Per Nilsson said. "Really proud of our guys, but now we have to focus on Florida this Sunday."
As the book has closed on the 2013 regular season home slate, the No. 13 Bulldogs will hit the road for their final three matches of the regular season. State travels to Gainesville, Fla., Sunday as they take on No. 17 Florida at 12 p.m. CT. State will travel to No. 32 LSU Wednesday, April 10, for a midweek battle against LSU before closing out its season in College Station, Texas, against No. 12 Texas A&M on Friday, April 12.
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 Lady Bulldog tennis (7-11, 1-9 SEC) nearly toppled the No. 29 ranked Lady Gamecocks of South Carolina (12-8, 5-5 SEC) Friday in an exciting road battle, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to tie the match before falling in a tough 4-3 decision.
The afternoon's competition began in favor of South Carolina, as the Lady Gamecocks clinched the early 1-0 lead after taking the doubles point, which would turn out to be very crucial in the match.
Adriana Pereira and Alex Martin of USC posted the first doubles win, taking down Lady Bulldogs Petra Ferancova and Lien Van Geel 8-3 at the No. 3 spot. Katerina Popova and Josefin Andersson secured the doubles point with an 8-2 triumph over MSU's No. 56 ranked pair of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran on court 1. Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna of USC held a 6-3 lead over MSU's Georgiana Patrasc and Roseline Dion when play on court 2 was suspended.
But the Lady Bulldogs would fire back in singles, claiming the first set in four of the six contests to position themselves for a potential comeback.
Van Geel, a true freshman for the Lady Bulldogs, evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against South Carolina's Martin on court 6.
USC answered back with back-to-back wins on courts 1 and 4. On court 1, No. 98-ranked Popova for the Lady Gamecocks downed MSU's 124th-ranked Patrasc in a 6-4, 6-0 decision. Court 4 followed as USC's Andersson took down Ferancova of MSU 7-5, 6-2.
State then answered with two consecutive wins of its own to tie the overall score at 3-3. Tran for the Lady Bulldogs kicked off the Maroon and White run, completing a 6-3, 6-4 victory on court 3 against USC's Luna. MSU's Dion followed on court 5 with a solid 7-5, 6-3 triumph against Pereira of USC, rallying from 3-1 down in the second set for the win.
The fate of the match then rested on court 2, where Lechemia of USC faced the MSU junior Perper. Perper had taken a close first set 6-4, but Lechemia came back to take the second set in a close tiebreaker 7-6(5). Lechemia jumped to a 4-0 lead in the final set, but Perper relentlessly battled back from two breaks down to even the score at 4-4. Three consecutive breaks of serve then ensued and, in the end, Lechemia finally held to take the match 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5.
"I am proud of the way the girls fought tonight. We did not do a very good job in the doubles, but came back and were so close to pulling off what would have been a big upset," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "After earning three straight set wins, it came down to (Alexandra) Perper's match. After going down 4-0 in the third, she dug deep to get back to 5-5 in a position to win. Unfortunately, we came out on the losing end of a very exciting match. We can take a lot of positives out of the match and it is evidence we are on the right track."
The Lady Bulldogs' next match will be this Sunday, April 7, as they travel to Gainesville, Fla., to face the second-ranked Lady Gators of Florida. The match is set to begin at 9 a.m. CT. Updates for MSU matches can be found on Twitter at @mstateWT. Live stats can be found on hailstate.com.
Behind 44th-ranked Ally McDonald's career-best 68, the Mississippi State women's golf team notched a 1-over-par 289 in the opening round of the M&F Bank Rebel Intercollegiate to tie No. 24 Baylor for second-place at the Ole Miss Golf Course.
The 1-over-par ties for the second-best round in program history and ties for the best round in the Ginger Brown-Lemm era.
MSU has posted a 289 in two of the last three rounds at the Ole Miss golf course after turning in a 1-over in last year's second round. State went on to finish sixth in the event, a program-best finish for the Rebel Intercollegiate.
The Lady Bulldogs are on pace to tie the school record for consecutive Top 10 finishes with their ninth-consecutive Top 10.
State, along with Baylor, is five strokes back of tournament-leader Coastal Carolina. The Lady Chanticleers turned in a 4-under-par 284 to take control of the 18-team field.
"Our squad has made such progress," Brown-Lemm said. "We are young, but the experience that our five have at this point is serving us very well. We practice hard, workout hard and dedicate time to training the way we think. All that effort is paying off in our mindset of 'The only thing that matters is the next shot.' We are going to enjoy the first round at the Rebel Invitational, but tomorrow morning we will start all over again with confidence of 'one shot warriors.' "
McDonald's 4-under-par 68 is not only her career-low, but also ties for the third-lowest individual round in program history. Her steady play resulted in five birdies and only one bogey and she is now only 11 birdies away from breaking the single-season school record (84).
Entering this weekend's action, the sophomore had posted a 69 six times previously. McDonald held a 3-under-par entering the 18th hole, but the Fulton, Miss., native managed to reach the 350-yard par-4 and sunk a birdie putt for the first 68 of her career.
"Ally has had a great year and is really fine tuning some areas of her game as our season winds down," Brown-Lemm said. "She was determined to break the 69 barrier that she has shot on multiple occasions today. We are proud of her opening round and look forward to two more rounds of solid golf."
A trio of individuals turned in 5-under-par 67's to tie for the top spot on the leaderboard, including No. 13 Hayley Davis (Baylor), No. 97 Madison Opfer (Tulane) and Chloe Garner (East Tennessee State).
Gabi Oubre' and Mary Langdon Gallagher each posted a 1-over-par 73. It is Oubre's second-best opening round of her young career, while it ties for Gallagher's season-best round posted in the Mercedes Benz Women's Collegiate Championship.
Sophomores Rica Tse and Elena Warren posted a 3-over-par 75 and 5-over-par 77, respectively, to round out the Lady Bulldog leaderboard.
Of the other four Southeastern Conference teams in the field, No. 29 LSU and No. 34 Kentucky each carded 291's to tie for fifth. Ole Miss notched a 301 and is 10th, while Missouri's 310 earned it 15th-place.
First-round tee times were delayed two hours for the course to dry.
Second-round action will begin at 9:51 a.m. CST Saturday with the Lady Bulldogs slated to tee off at 11:30 alongside Coastal Carolina and Baylor on hole No. 1.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the women's golf program on Twitter, @mstateWG, and on Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG.
No. 3 Florida (37-3, 11-2 SEC) used a pair of two-out home runs in the bottom of the fourth to defeat Mississippi State (23-13, 2-8 SEC), 9-1, in six innings Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
The Gators, who produced just four hits, were the benefactors of 11 walks, the most by the Bulldogs under Head Coach Vann Stuedeman. The Bulldogs entered Friday's contest having issued 14 total walks in conference play this season.
Through the first 3.2 innings of work, MSU senior starting pitcher Stephanie Becker (6-6) was brilliant against the No. 6 scoring offense in the country, striking out five and allowing no hits. The southpaw ran into trouble with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, surrendering back-to-back singles to UF first baseman Taylor Schwarz and center fielder Kirsti Merritt.
Stuedeman replaced Becker with fellow senior LHP Kylie Vry, who in her first batter faced yielded a three-run home run to the Gators' Kelsey Horton on a full count. Vry exited the game after freshman righty Jacey Punches replaced her following two-consecutive walks.
With a pair on the bags and still two outs, Punches loaded the bases by issuing a base on balls to shortstop Kelsey Stewart. In the next at-bat, UF third baseman Stephanie Tofft hit her first career grand slam to extend the Gators' lead to 7-0.
State responded with its first run of the game in the top of the fifth. Senior first baseman Shelby Fisher led off with a walk and was pinch ran for by freshman speedster Kayla Winkfield. Winkfield advanced to second when redshirt junior shortstop Erin Nesbit was hit by a pitch, and was pushed over to third when Nesbit was forced out at second courtesy of a grounder to short by junior left fielder Jessica Offutt. Offutt and Winkfield then executed a double steal, with Winkfield tapping the dish thanks to an obstruction call on the Florida catcher.
The Gators tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth frame thanks to an RBI sacrifice fly by Stewart, and ended the game in the sixth with a bases-loaded walk by Horton.
Starkville's Team heads back to the diamond Saturday at 2 p.m. CT, before wrapping up the series with an 11 a.m. CT first pitch Sunday. Free live audio streaming of the series will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
For live in-game updates of MSU's conference series in Gainesville, 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.
Head coach Aaron Gordon's Mississippi State soccer team hosts the first of two spring home matches Saturday, meeting Jackson State in a noon kickoff at the MSU Soccer Field.
Admission to all matches at the MSU Soccer Field is free.
Saturday's contest marks the second exhibition match for the Bulldogs, as they opened with a 1-0 win at Georgia State on March 2.
Gordon's squad had a Thursday contest against Memphis in Tupelo postponed due to weather conditions. The teams will venture back to the "All-American City" April 11 for a 7 p.m. kick at Ballard Park.
The Bulldogs return to the road two days later, trekking to Jackson to meet Northwestern State at 1:30 p.m. That contest will be played at either Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland or the Jackson Futbol Club (2240 Westbrook Road in Jackson).
Mississippi State wraps the spring slate April 20, hosting Southern Miss at 11:30 a.m. as part of Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions Bank.