Senior left-hander Stephanie Becker tossed her second career no-hitter as the Mississippi State softball team (27-14, 6-9 SEC) routed arch-rival Ole Miss (21-26, 2-16 SEC), 8-0, in six innings Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Stadium. The 15th no-hitter in school history (second in conference play) gave MSU its second-straight sweep against the Rebels and improved the Bulldogs' winning streak in the series to eight games.
"Stephanie was as sharp as a tack today and barely missed anything we called," said Head Coach Vann Stuedeman, who upped her record to a flawless 12-0 against in-state opponents. "She is a gutsy player and was on point today."
Becker threw 77 unhittable pitches in her domination of the Rebels, becoming the fourth pitcher in school history to record multiple no-hitters. The southpaw struck out four and allowed only one baserunner (third-inning walk) in her second complete-game of the season. Becker's no-no also marked the 26th career no-hitter coached by Stuedeman, as well as the 235th career shutout for the dugout general.
"You can't have a no-hitter without great defense, and our defense was awesome today," Becker said. "Everyone had my back as always and Vann called a great game as usual."
Offensively, junior catcher Sam Lenahan went 1-for-1 with two runs, a walk and an RBI, finishing the weekend sweep with a .600 batting average and a .750 on-base percentage. Fellow junior Heidi Shape finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, giving her 12 RBIs in her last six games against Ole Miss. Redshirt sophomore Julia Echols (1-for-2) also knocked in two, while senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-2, run) and sophomore Erika Gaul (0-for-1) drove in one run each. Junior Jessica Offutt led off for MSU and went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
The Bully Bombers pounded out seven of their eight runs in the first two frames, including a four-run opening inning. Offutt took first base with a leadoff walk and advanced to second when Cooley joined her on the base paths thanks to catcher's interference. With runners on first and second, Stuedeman called for the double steal. Offutt slid in safely at third, but scored when the throw to third rolled into left field. Cooley moved to third on the error and was joined on the corners when Lenahan drew her team-leading 37th walk of the season. Junior Logan Foulks then made it to first on a fielder's choice when Cooley was tagged out at home on a 5-2 putout.
Two runners stood on the bag for redshirt sophomore Briana Bell, who singled up the middle to load the bases. Shape gave MSU its second run of the day with a single to right, driving in Lenahan. The Bulldogs scored their final two runs of the first stanza when Echols hit a two-out single, scoring both Foulks and Bell.
State added three more runs in the second, the first of which came on Cooley's fifth home run of the year. The Birmingham Bomber's solo shot to straightaway center field was followed by Lenahan getting hit by a pitch and advancing to second on an illegal pitch. Foulks walked and Bell singled yet again to put a runner on every base. Just like the first inning, Shape drove in Lenahan with a single. Gaul then pinch hit for senior Shelby Fisher, and proceeded to record her first career RBI with a groundout to shortstop, scoring Foulks.
The game-ending run in the bottom of the sixth came when Lenahan belted a first-pitch offering with no outs to deep right field, allowing speedy freshman Loryn NIchols to tag from third and score for the series-sweeping victory.
Starkville's Team now takes to the road for a non-conference contest at Samford this Tuesday at 6 p.m. For live in-game updates of the game, 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.
Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis (8-13, 2-11 SEC), posted a hard-fought 4-2 victory against the No. 51 ranked Lady Tigers of Missouri (9-12, 2-11 SEC) in the teams' final regular season match Sunday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
Ironically, the two teams will rematch in their next outing, squaring off in the opener of the 2013 SEC Women's Tennis Championship this Wednesday, April 17, at 10 a.m. Mississippi State is hosting the 2013 SEC event April 17-21 at the Pitts Tennis Centre as part of Super Bulldog Weekend. A complete bracket and information on the tournament can be found at www.HailState.com/SECtennis.
Due to inclement weather Sunday, the day's competition began with singles play. Court 4 was the first to finish, as Elisha Gabb of the Lady Tigers defeated Lady Bulldog Petra Ferancova 6-2, 6-2 for an early 1-0 Missouri lead.
Lady Bulldog veteran Alexandra Perper then evened the overall score at 1-1 with an impressive three-set triumph over Rachel Stuhlmann at the No. 2 position. After taking the first set, Perper answered Stuhlmann's second-set response to claim the match convincingly in the third, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
MSU true freshman Sarai Flores extended the Maroon and White lead to 2-1 with a closely contested 7-5, 7-5 victory against Missouri's Madison Rhyner on court 6. Flores rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the second set to win four-straight games in a pivotal win for the Lady Bulldogs.Missouri then knotted things again as Maria Christensen downed MSU's Naomi Tran 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a three-set war at the No. 3 spot, locking the score at 2-2.
A top spot upset for Lady Bulldog Georgiana Patrasc edged MSU to a 3-2 lead. Patrasc, who was down 4-0 in the first set, roared back to take that set and ultimately upset No. 86 ranked Cierra Gaytan-Leach of Missouri 7-5, 7-5.
The match then came down to the remaining singles action on court 5, where Lady Bulldog Roseline Dion faced Missouri's Alex Clark. Dion took the first set in a dominant 6-2 decision, but was forced into a tiebreaker in the second set after holding a big lead. Dion held strong, however, to take the tiebreaker and notching a 6-2, 7-6(6) triumph to clinch the MSU team victory.
Because the match was clinched in singles competition, doubles play was not contested.
Head coach Daryl Greenan was pleased by his team's performance.
"We fought extremely hard today and it was a great win over a very good Missouri team," said Greenan. "Perper and Patrasc were tough as nails and Sarai did a tremendous job playing within herself. Rosie had a chance to end the match much sooner, but she really dug deep to win the tiebreaker to clinch. It was a very solid effort on every court for us today, and it is a good feeling when that happens. We will face Missouri again in three days right here in the SEC Tournament, and it is going to take a huge effort to come back and beat them again."
Updates for all Lady Bulldog tennis action are available through twitter @mstateWT and through live stats at hailstate.com.
Track and Field
Capturing 19 Top 3 finishes, the Mississippi State track and field team will return home from the Battle on the Bayou with a collection of quality performances.
Highlighted by Nathan Arnett's win in the 400-meter hurdles (51.26), the Bulldogs gained 90 points on the day to finish fifth. Similarly, the MSU women also posted 90 points, placing them in fourth. Both LSU squads claimed team wins at Bernie Moore Track Stadium on Saturday, the men with 140 points and the women with 179.
"The competition was strong in Louisiana," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "When you compete against that level, it pushes you to compete harder. We had a handful of great performances today."
The 13th-ranked Maroon and White men were led by strong showings in the field, as A.J. Ward long jumped 23-05.50 to boast a second-place finish, followed by teammates Jason Harper and Jarrett Samuels who tied for third after jumping 21-10.50.
Harper's momentum continued as he added points for the Bulldogs, leaping 49-09.00 in the triple jump to finish third.
Later in the day, Marcus Jackson cleared 7-01.00 in the high jump, earning a second-place finish. The junior entered the competition as the second-ranked high jumper in the NCAA.
Freshman Scottie Hearns helped pace the men on the track, finishing right behind Arnett in the 400-meter hurdles, clocking a 51.27.
On the women's side, Jody-Ann Muir and Kanishia Carey posted top speeds for the Lady Bulldogs. Muir's time of 53.25 placed her second in the 400-meter dash, while Carey finished third in the 800-meter run, turning in a 2:11.24.
Freshman pole vaulter Megan Walker garnered a second-place performance after she cleared 12-09.00. Ebony Brinker and Alyssa Hall also saw Top 3 finishes in their respective events. Brinker's 40-08.25 landed her third in the triple jump and Hall cleared 5-07.25 in the high jump.
Dudley's 4x400-meter relay teams earned a pair of third-place finishes as well, as the Lady Bulldog quartet comprised of Muir, Ste'yce McNeil, Brittney Covington and Ocian Archer clocked a 3:40.11. The men's foursome posted a 3:06.86 in the event. Tavaris Tate, Daundre Barnaby, Brandon McBride and Randy Patterson's time on Saturday was just over a second more than their season-best 3:05.35, a time that ranks fifth in the NCAA.
MSU track and field will stay on the road next weekend, traveling to Oxford for the Mississippi Open. For more updates on the Bulldogs, follow the team on Twitter (@msutracksarah).