In perhaps its most thrilling match of 2013 to date, the No. 13 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (15-7, 5-5 SEC) stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the No. 17 Florida Gators (11-9, 5-5 SEC) Sunday at UF's Ring Tennis Complex.
The victory marked the first time in MSU recorded history that the Bulldogs have beaten the Gators consecutive times in Gainesville (State also won 4-3 at UF last season). With the win, State also swept weekend play, taking down two top 20 opponents after defeating No. 20 South Carolina 4-2 in Starkville Friday. The Bulldogs have now won three of their last four matches with only two more left in the regular season.
State jumped out early against the Gators Sunday by grabbing the doubles point with tough wins on courts one and two. The Gators struck first with an 8-5 victory from the duo of Florent Diep and Gordon Watson against MSU's Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson at No. 3. However, State's 15th-ranked team of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp responded with an 8-6 victory against UF's Bob van Overbeek and Stephane Piro on court one to level the field.
On court two, both teams battled closely for the majority of the match, but the State tandem of Romain Bogaerts and Zach White pulled away in the end, defeating Florida's Mike Alford and Luke Johnson 8-5 to clinch the doubles point for the Bulldogs.
The Gators would not be deterred, however, as the home team started off hot in singles by grabbing the first set on four of six courts.
UF's Mike Alford even the score by downing MSU's Angus 6-1, 7-5 on court four. Following suit was No. 117 van Overbeek, who fought off State senior James Chaudry 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3, giving the Gators a 2-1 lead. The Gators' 102nd-ranked Diep brought his team within one point of clinching when he earned a 6-4, 6-1 victory against MSU's No. 50 Stropp at the No. 2 spot.
With it seeming that Florida was on its way to victory at that point, the Bulldogs turned the tables and mounted a very impressive comeback.
State's White was near defeat, down a set and 4-1 in the second on court five to UF's Johnson, until he stormed back to force a tiebreaker to stay in the match. Again, White found himself down, as he trailed Johnson 5-2 in the tiebreaker. But once again, White roared back, winning five-straight points to take the tiebreaker and the second set 7-6(5). That key comeback forced a final set and kept the overall match going for the other two courts in play as well.
Shortly after White's second-set rally, MSU's 20th-ranked Bogaerts downed UF's No. 125 Piro 6-3, 6-4, trimming the Gator lead to 3-2.
As play headed to a third set on court six between MSU's Dumont and UF's Watson, White began to cruise through the final set at No. 5, finally shutting out Johnson in the third for a remarkable 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 triumph to tie the team match at 3-3.
As White was wrapping up his win, Dumont broke to open the third set on court 6 and held that advantage to the very end, defeating UF's Watson 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to clinch the match for the Maroon and White. With the win, Dumont improved to 9-0 for the 2012-13 season in three-set matches.
"Florida outplayed us on a couple of courts today, but we hung in there to get the win," Bulldog head coach Per Nilsson said. "Great job by Zach (White) to turn his match around and very strong of Pedro (Dumont) to finish it off."
The Bulldogs now have just two matches remaining in the regular season before heading to Oxford, Miss., for the 2013 SEC Championship (April 17-21). State will travel to Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, April 10, to face the No. 32 LSU Tigers at 3 p.m. CT. MSU will then close out the regular season in College Station, Texas, on Friday, April 12, as they battle No. 12 Texas A&M at 6 p.m. CT.
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).
Eleven years of disappointment and heartbreak vs. top-three teams came to a screeching halt for the Mississippi State softball program Sunday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, as the Bulldogs (24-14, 3-9 SEC) exploded for a five-run second inning en route to a 6-5 victory against No. 3 Florida. The win was the first for MSU against a team ranked in the top three since a 7-1 victory against No. 1 Arizona on Feb. 9, 2002. State also snapped a 17-game losing streak against Florida, which dated back to April 2007.
"Our players are gutsy and resilient," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We came back from a heartbreaking loss Saturday and took game three, and that is part of changing a culture."
The Bully Bombers pounded out 11 base hits, the most for MSU in conference play this year and the most allowed in 2013 by the No. 3 Gators in a seven-inning game. Junior Heidi Shape (2-for-3, two runs), redshirt junior Erin Nesbit (2-for-3, RBI), redshirt sophomore Briana Bell (2-for-4, RBI, run) and freshman Loryn NIchols (2-for-3, RBI, run) all had multiple hits. Junior Logan Foulks (1-for-4, RBI), senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and junior Jessica Offutt (1-for-3, run) also collected base knocks for MSU, while junior Sam Lenahan scored a run.
"Coach (Alan) Reach and Coach (Beth) Mullins really sat down Saturday night and studied a lot of film," Stuedeman said. "Credit both of those coaches. Each player was willing to stick to the plan and execute it."
Right-hander Alison Owen improved to 13-6 in 2013 for the Bulldogs, striking out five and allowing just one hit in 5.0 innings of relief.
After totaling six hits in the first two games of the series, State jumped out of the gates with five runs off seven hits in the top of the second. Bell led off the top of the frame by denting the towering scoreboard in left for her seventh homer of the season. Shape followed up Bell's long ball with her second triple of her junior campaign. Following the first out of the inning, Nesbit pulled a liner off Florida third baseman Stephanie Tofft's glove at third for a single, driving in Shape.
With Nesbit on first, Offutt singled to right field and Nichols dropped a perfect bunt in front of the UF catcher. The bases were juiced for Cooley, who with two outs hit a worm burner up the middle that drove in a pair of Bulldogs to double their lead. Foulks then doubled down the left-field line to extend the lead to 5-0 in favor of the Maroon and White.
The Gators came within one run of tying MSU in the bottom of the second courtesy of a grand slam by catcher Taylore Fuller. After the second inning, the two teams evened out by scoring one run each to give the game its final score of 6-5.
Starkville's Team heads back home for a critical three-game conference clash starting Friday against in-state rival Ole Miss. Game one will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. CT. First pitch on Saturday and Sunday is at 1 p.m. CT. Admission is free to all events at the MSU Softball Stadium, but if you cannot attend, free live audio as well as video (except Friday) will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
For live in-game updates of MSU's rivalry series in Starkville, 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.
Building off an opening-round 4-under-par 68, No. 44 Ally McDonald fired a school record-tying 6-under-par 210 for a third-place finish in the M&F Bank Rebel Intercollegiate. The Mississippi State women's golf team's 24-over 888 garnered a share of sixth-place along with No. 29 LSU.
McDonald carded a 1-under-par 71 Sunday to tie Beth Irwin's school record 210 set during the 2004 Chrysler ACC/SEC Challenge. Her first-round 68 also tied for the second-lowest round in MSU history.
Entering the weekend, the sophomore owned the Southeastern Conference's fifth-best scoring average (72.71), but with her stellar play this weekend has lowered her average to 72.41, which is now third in the SEC and on pace to break State's all-time season mark by two strokes.
"Ally played very well this weekend," third-year MSU head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "She took advantage of the opportunities this course gave to her and was able to shake off the few bad holes she had. To be able to tie a school record and still leave shots on the course shows the talent and potential she has. This is another of many great tournaments for her."
After turning in a program second-best 289 during Friday's first round, the Lady Bulldogs tallied a 299 and 300 during the final two rounds. The three-round 888 matches the fourth-lowest tournament tally in MSU history and second lowest in the Brown-Lemm era.
With the sixth-place finish the Lady Bulldogs also tied a school record with their ninth-consecutive Top 10 finish. MSU will have a chance to break the record in the upcoming SEC Championship.
State also recorded wins against a pair of SEC opponents for the first time this season. Ole Miss turned in a 28-over-par 892, while Missouri's 36-over-par 900 earned it 10th-place.
"I'm proud of the way we competed this weekend," Brown-Lemm said. "We did not finish well during the last two rounds, but we still managed to beat two SEC teams and that is never easy to do. We can isolate just two or three holes each round that killed us so we can look at what we need to correct and be ready to go for the SEC Championship in a couple of weeks."
Individually, freshman Gabi Oubre' turned in a final-round 2-over-par 74 Sunday for a three-round 9-over-par 225. She finished tied for 34th in the 96-player field.
Mary Langdon Gallagher posted a 5-over-par 77 Sunday for a three-round 10-over-par 226. It is the junior's best tournament since she carded a 222 in last season's Price's Give 'Em Five Invitational.
Elena Warren (77-74-78) and Rica Tse (75-79-79) rounded out the Lady Bulldog leaderboard with a 13-over-par 229 and a 17-over 233, respectively.
No. 49 Coastal Carolina won the M&F Bank Rebel Intercollegiate firing a 1-under-par 863. 24th-ranked Baylor and 20th-ranked Tulane rounded out the top three with an 872 and 878, respectively.
Jessica Alexander of Coastal Carolina claimed in individual crown with an 8-under-par 208, while No. 13 Hayley Davis of Baylor finished second at 7-under.
The Lady Bulldogs return to action April 19 - 21 at the SEC Championship hosted at the Greystone Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.
Fans can also follow the women's golf program on Twitter, @mstateWG, and on Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG.
Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis competed closely in singles competition at some positions, but was unable to pull out a win, falling 4-0 in the team's road dual match against the No. 2 ranked Lady Gators of Florida Sunday.
With the setback, State fell to 7-12 overall, 1-10 in SEC play. Florida improved to 17-2, 10-1, while winning its 10th straight match overall.
Florida jumped to an early 1-0 lead, clinching doubles competition. Alexandra Cercone and Caroline Hitimana of Florida posted the first victory of the day, taking down the Lady Bulldog duo of Georgiana Patrasc and Roseline Dion in an 8-0 decision on court 2. The No. 20 ranked Lady Gator pair of Lauren Embree and Sofie Oyen secured the doubles point with an 8-2 triumph against MSU's No. 56 ranked Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran at the top spot. Petra Ferancova and Lien Van Geel of the Lady Bulldogs held a 6-4 lead on court 3 against Danielle Collins and Olivia Janowicz of UF when play was suspended.
The Lady Gators continued their momentum in singles as Janowicz, ranked at No. 118, toppled MSU's Ferancova 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 4 spot. No. 53 ranked Cercone of Florida extended the team's lead to 3-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Tran on court 3. A court 6 win by UF's 115th-ranked Danielle Collins clinched the match for Florida, as she defeated MSU freshman Van Geel 6-1, 6-3.
Georgiana Patrasc and Alexandra Perper of the Lady Bulldogs had both split sets when play was suspended. Patrasc dropped the first set on court 1 to the nation's No.1-ranked player Lauren Embree 6-0, but rallied back to take the second set 6-4. Perper took the first set 6-4 against Florida's No. 12 ranked Oyen on court 2, but dropped the second set 6-2. Hitimana of Florida held a 6-4, 3-1 lead over Roseline Dion of the Lady Bulldogs at the No. 5 position.
"I thought the doubles was closer than the score indicated, but Florida did a better job in the important points," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "In singles we were battling evenly on most courts. Once again I was impressed with the top of our lineup. Georgiana and Alexandra were in good positions to upset the No. 1 and No. 12 players in the country. Our improvement has been steady this season and that is a good feeling. We are ready to finish strong leading up to hosting the SEC Tournament in a couple weeks."
The Lady Bulldogs will return home next weekend for a pair of matches that will conclude the 2013 regular season. MSU will host fourth-ranked Texas A&M Friday, April 12, at 3 p.m. before welcoming No. 49 Missouri Sunday, April 14, at 1 p.m. State will then prepare to host the 2013 SEC Women's Tennis Championship, which will be held at the Pitts Tennis Centre April 17-21 as a part of Super Bulldog Weekend festivities. Updates for MSU matches can be found on Twitter at @mstateWT. Live stats can be found on hailstate.com.