In front of a record capacity crowd of 1,553, as well as millions watching at home on ESPNU, the Mississippi State softball team (25-14, 4-9 SEC) defeated arch-rival Ole Miss (21-24, 2-14 SEC) by a score of 5-1 Friday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Bulldogs extended their winning streak against the Rebels to six games, while improving to 10-0 all-time against in-state teams in two seasons under Head Coach Vann Stuedeman.
"I am so proud we were able to put on a good show for this record crowd tonight," said Stuedeman, who improved to 4-1 all-time in nationally-televised games.
State starter Alison Owen tossed a complete-game two-hitter against the visitors, improving to 14-6 on the season. The right-hander struck out seven, walked one and surrendered just one run. Ole Miss starter Carly Hummel fell to 10-14 after giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks.
Bulldog catcher Sam Lenahan finished 1-for-2 with two walks, but recorded the base hit when MSU needed it most. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second following a solo home run by the Rebels' Londen Ladner, the home team started cooking offensively with a single by redshirt sophomore shortstop Julia Echols. Following a walk by junior left fielder Jessica Offutt, freshmen center fielder Loryn NIchols advanced the base runners on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt. With two in scoring position and two gone, Lenahan found open grass in shallow right center with a clutch base knock, giving MSU a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish the remainder of the evening.
With chants of Maroon and White filling the air, Starkville's Team added three runs thanks to a two-out rally in the fifth frame. Down to the last out in the inning, junior third baseman Logan Foulks crushed the first pitch of her at-bat over the wall in left for her team-leading 11th home run of the season. Redshirt sophomore designated player Briana Bell then reached on an infield single, and tapped the dish when junior second baseman Heidi Shape exploded through the zone with her second long ball of the season to conclude Friday's scoring.
The Maroon and White will go for the series win Saturday at 1 p.m., with the first 100 fans receiving limited edition Hail State sunglasses. Greek Life Day at the park concludes with a celebrity home run derby immediately following the game. The long-ball challenge will feature local celebs such as football All-American Johnthan Banks, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and more.
Both teams will try to strike out cancer Sunday in the series finale starting at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will wear pink and the first 100 fans will receive pink Nerf softballs to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
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.
In their first matchup ever in Southeastern Conference play, the 11th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis squad (16-8, 6-6 SEC) fell to the No. 14 Texas A&M Aggies (15-11, 6-5 SEC) Friday night on the road. The two teams have now split matches this season, as MSU defeated A&M 4-0 earlier this year in the ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle.
The Aggies jumped out to an early lead Friday by taking the doubles point on courts one and two. State did get out in front first in doubles, as the Bulldog duo of Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson defeated TAMU's Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo 8-5.
TAMU struck back quickly, as the No. 9 duo of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow defeated MSU's No. 12 team of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp 8-5 at No. 1. TAMU clinched doubles with an 8-4 victory from the No. 26 tandem of Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant against MSU's Romain Bogaerts and Zach White on court two.
In singles, the Aggies jumped ahead quickly by taking five of six first sets.
On court five, A&M's Szabo was the first to finish, as he defeated MSU's White 6-2, 6-3. TAMU's Ore followed suit, as he downed State's No. 58 Malte Stropp 6-3, 6-3 on court two. The Aggies clinched the match when No. 78 Shane Vinsant defeated MSU freshman Angus 7-5, 6-1 on court four.
Play on the remaining courts was suspended at that point. No. 12 Bogaerts took the first set on one 6-4, but No. 40 Efferding of A&M split, taking the second 6-2 as play ended. TAMU's No. 119 Adams led State's James Chaudry 7-5, 5-4 on court three. On court six, the pair had split the first two sets and just begun the third, as A&M's Behzad Minavi led MSU's Dumont 6-3, 4-6, 1-0.
With the regular season wrapped up, the Bulldogs will now prepare for the 2013 SEC Championship, set to take place in Oxford, Miss., April 17-21. The draw for the tournament will be announced late Sunday after all regular season play in the league has concluded.
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).
Junior Alexandra Perper posted a top 55 win but Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis (7-13, 1-11 SEC) fell 6-1 to the No. 3 ranked Lady Aggies of Texas A&M (19-2, 11-1 SEC) Friday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus. The match was the first-ever meeting between the teams in an official SEC affair and only the second all-time.
The Lady Aggies jumped to a 1-0 advantage by clinching the doubles point with wins on courts 2 and 3. A&M's No. 56-ranked pair of Sun Wen and Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar took down the MSU duo of Roseline Dion and Georgiana Patrasc in an 8-2 decision on court 2. A&M sealed the doubles point as the Lady Aggie sister duo of Ines and Paula Dheza defeated the Lady Bulldog pair of Petra Ferancova and Lien Van Geel 8-2 on court 3. MSU's No. 73 ranked pair of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran trailed 7-3 to A&M's No. 15 ranked duo of Cristina Stancu and Stefania Hristov at the No. 1 position when play was suspended.
Court 4 was the first to complete in singles competition as MSU's Ferancova fell 6-2 in the first set to Ines Deheza of A&M and retired before the second set to give Deheza the win. Court 5 followed as A&M's Sun Wen defeated Dion of MSU 6-1, 6-0, giving A&M a 3-0 overall advantage.
Anna Mamalat of A&M then clinched the match with a solid 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Lady Bulldog freshman Sarai Flores at the No. 6 spot.
Cristina Sanchez of A&M, nationally ranked at No. 4, stretched the Lady Aggie lead to 5-0, taking down MSU's Patrasc 6-3, 6-2 at the top spot. Despite a close second set effort, Lady Bulldog sophomore Naomi Tran fell 6-1, 6-4 to No. 65 ranked Cristina Stancu on court 3, extending the A&M advantage to 6-0.
The MSU veteran Perper posted the lone Lady Bulldog triumph of the day's competition on court 2. Perper upset No. 52 ranked Nazari Urbina of the Lady Aggies, splitting sets in a closely contested battle before taking the match 6-4, 5-7, 1-0(6).
"It was the third top 5 ranked team we have played this season, and I feel like we have done a better job each time of competing," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "A&M really played too well for us in doubles, but I felt like we gave them a better battle in singles. Perper's win highlighted our efforts. She has come close several times this season against some of the best players in the country, so it was great that she was able to finally pull of the win.
"Missouri is going to be a tough home match on Sunday, and we are excited to get to host the SEC Tournament at home beginning Wednesday. I feel like we are ready to finish strong."
Lady Bulldog tennis will continue its final weekend of regular season play with a Sunday match against No. 51 ranked Missouri at the Pitts Tennis Centre Sunday afternoon. The match is set to begin at 1 p.m. State will then prepare to host the 2013 SEC Women's Tennis Championship, April 17-21, as part of Super Bulldog Weekend.
Updates for all Lady Bulldog tennis action is available through twitter @mstateWT and through LiveStats at hailstate.com.