News from MSU Media Relations--Feb 9, 2014

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Women's Golf, Men's Tennis, Track and Field, Softball, Women's Tennis.

Women's Golf

Spring season is underway for the Mississippi State women's golf team as four players competed in the Lady Bulldog Individual Championship in Athens on Saturday with Rica Tse finishing in a tie for third.

"I am really proud of Rica today. She has been working extremely hard in the offseason and it paid off for her," fourth-year head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "It was critical experience for Blaise, Logan and Izel. They are not experienced collegiate players yet, but gained valuable experience for future use."

After posting the lowest first round score of 73, Tse followed up with a 75 in her second round to give her a 148 final score to earn her first top-10 finish of the season and fourth of her career.

Blaise Carabello improved her opening round score of 81 by three strokes in the second with a 78 to finish tied for 27th, narrowly missing her second top-25 finish of the year.

Sophomore Logan Chaney notched a 78 in the first round and 85 in the second to earn a tie for 34th with a 163 final score. Izel Pieters' second round 82 was a seven-shot-improvement from her first round to place in 46th at 171 for the championship.

Alex Harrel of Auburn and Chessey Thomas of Tennessee were named co-champions with 147 final scores.

Brown-Lemm's squad will return to action in the Seminole Challenge on Feb. 14-16 in Tallahassee, Fla., at Southwood Golf Course.

Updates will be provided on the Mississippi State women's golf Twitter account, @HailStateWG, and Facebook page, facebook.com/HailStateWG.

Men's Tennis

Fueled by dominating performances from top to bottom, the 9th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis Bulldogs (8-0) swept their Sunday doubleheader, blanking No. 69 Samford (1-3) 7-0 and Alcorn State 6-0 later in the day.

The wins move the Bulldogs to 8-0 in 2014, the best start under seventh-year head coach Per Nilsson and the best start in program history since the 1972 squad coached by Alan Jones started 9-0.

State began Sunday in a battle of the Bulldogs, taking on the visitors from Samford University. MSU jumped out in front early, taking the doubles point with a 6-3 victory on court one from the No. 52 duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp and a 6-3 win at the two spot from the tandem of Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid.

Play on court three was suspended with MSU's Rishab Agarwal and Zach White leading 5-4.

In singles play, the Bulldogs put on an impressive performance by not relinquishing a set to Samford. The State freshman Agarwal continued his impressive play of late with a 6-0, 6-2 victory on court six against SU's Liam Sullivan to start. On the other end of the Bulldog lineup, No. 63 Lakat defeated Elliot Barnwell of Samford 6-2, 6-4 to push the Bulldogs' lead to 3-0. The State junior Schmid clinched the match for the Maroon and White, defeating SU's Moore 6-2, 6-4 on court five.

Play continued after the clinch, with MSU's No. 39 Stropp taking down SU's Fares Kilani 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 2 position and Angus defeating SU's Akers 6-3, 6-2 on court three. The match wrapped up following a 6-2, 6-5(4) on court four by MSU's White against Samford's Carter.

After a short break, the Bulldogs returned to the court to take on in-state foe Alcorn State. As they did earlier in the day, the Bulldogs jumped out in front by taking the doubles point. MSU earned a 6-0 victory at the top spot from Lakat and Schmid and a 6-1 win on court two from Agarwal and Angus to clinch the point. Play on court three was suspended, with MSU;s Haden and Egbert Weverink leading 4-1.

The Bulldogs proved to be just as remarkable in singles in the day's second match. The first victory again came from court six, where this time the freshman Weverink defeated ASU's Nikita Kostikov 6-2, 6-2. Fellow freshman Haden pushed MSU's lead to 3-0 when he took down the Braves' Max Tkachenko 6-2, 6-0 on court five.

The clincher came at the top spot, where No. 63 Lakat defeated ASU's Ernesto Santillan 6-3, 6-1. Just as Lakat clinched the victory for MSU, play on courts two and four came to a close in the Bulldogs' favor.

At the No. 2 spot, MSU's Angus defeated ASU's Lucas Morviac 6-2, 6-0, while the Maroon and White's Agarwal earned a 6-2, 6-2 win against the Braves' Garry Amor.

Play on court three was suspended following the rush of wins, with ASU's Nischay Rawal leading MSU's Schmid, 6-4, 1-1.

The Bulldogs now await to learn their opponent for the upcoming 2014 ITA National Team Indoor Championship, set for Feb. 14-17 in Houston, Texas. One of the ITA's two national championship tournaments, the National Team Indoors features 16 of the nation's top squads who all advanced from 2014 ITA Kick-Off Weekend play. MSU defeated top 30 foes Harvard and Memphis in late January to punch its ticket to Houston.

For more information on Mississippi State men's tennis, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (@HailStateMT), Facebook (HailStateMT) and Instagram (HailStateMT).

Track and Field

Experiencing the Big Apple in style, Mississippi State track and field carried its momentum from a successful day one to capture second-place finishes at the New Balance Armory Collegiate Invitational on Saturday.

Competing against 101 universities from across the country, the Maroon and White topped Southeastern Conference rivals Alabama, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. The MSU women tallied 62 points on the weekend to finish behind No. 7 Arkansas, while the men totaled 59 points, nearly outscoring No. 4 Wisconsin (62 points).

"Our teams have been training extremely hard, and to go out there and perform they way they did was outstanding," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "This meet is one of the most well-recognized and respected competitions in the country. I'm so happy for them, because they really deserve this."

The Bulldogs accomplishments on day two were seen across the board as they posted top performances both on and off the track.

All-American Brandon McBride clocked a 1:48.29 to win the 800-meter run, narrowly missing a meet record by five hundredths of a second.

Marcus Jackson, who won the high jump at Indoor Nationals in 2013, finished second at the New Balance Track and Field Center by clearing 7-03.75 in the event.

The MSU men's and women's relay teams saw a variety of Top 5 finishes as the day continued. Both Bulldog 4x800-meter relays posted second-place finishes, the women in 9:00.63 and the men in 7:33.15. Dudley's men were only 0.03 seconds shy of first.

The men's 4x400-meter relay clocked a third-place speed with 3:10.84, while the Lady Bulldogs claimed a fourth-place finish in the 4x200-meter relay (1:39.34).

"Our relays really executed well today, and without a disqualification in the men's 4x200, we could've captured first-place overall," Dudley said. "The handoff style we use of glancing back before grabbing the baton didn't fit well with this track's structure, causing us to run off the track on the first handoff. I should have studied the facility better, and this would have allowed us to alter the handoffs to better fit the layout of the track."

This small mishap failed to slow down MSU, as freshman Rhianwedd Price posted a third-place time of 4:41.75 in the women's one mile championship, a speed that places her third on MSU's all-time performance list.

Triple jumper and All-American Jason Harper finished fourth in the event with a leap of 50-10.00. Lady leapers Rochelle Farquharson (41-05.75) and Ebony Brinker (41-05.25) finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Meanwhile, distance runner Cornelia Griesche saw a seventh-place finish in the college section of the women's 3000-meter run.

After returning from New York City, the Bulldog squads will begin preparation for the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville on Feb. 21-22.

For more information on Mississippi State track and field, fans can follow the team on Twitter (@HailStateTF).

Softball

One final offensive showcase helped Mississippi State softball to a 5-0 opening weekend with an 8-0 victory in five innings over Jacksonville State on Sunday to complete the Bulldog Kickoff Classic. It is the second 5-0 start for MSU in the three years under head coach Vann Stuedeman.

It was not just the offense, however, as the Bulldog pitching staff tossed two shutouts and yielded just three runs in a dominant opening weekend. MSU posted a 0.75 earned-run average and struck out 38 batters while issuing just four walks. The three runs are the fewest allowed by the Bulldog pitching staff through the first five games of a season since surrendering two in 2010.

Sunday at the plate, freshman Caroline Seitz hit her second home run in as many games and junior Katie Gentle drove in the game-winning run with a pinch-hit double in the second inning.

From the circle, senior pitcher Alison Owen (2-0) allowed just one hit, a double to Jamie McGuire in the top of the fifth. She struck out six and did not issue a walk in her second complete game in as many days. Casey Akenberger (1-1) took the loss for the Gamecocks, tossing two innings and allowing five runs on five hits and four walks. Tiffany Harbin threw the remaining two-and-two-thirds frames, yielding three runs on four hits and two free passes, and hit a batter. She also fanned one.

The Bulldogs broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second for a 4-0 lead. Seitz and Mackenzie Toler reached on consecutive walks to open the frame. Following a fly out, sophomore Loryn Nichols singled through the left side to load the bases for Gentle, who doubled to the gap in left center to plate Seitz and Toler for a two-run lead. Senior Jessica Offutt followed with a double over first base that plated Nichols and sophomore Kayla Winkfield, who re-entered to run for Gentle. Senior Heidi Shape walked, but a pop out and fly out closed the inning.

MSU quickly added to the lead in the bottom of the third as Seitz led off with a home run for a 5-0 advantage. Toler followed with a single to left center and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Katie Anne Bailey, who made her Mississippi State debut. Junior Julia Echols walked, but a sacrifice bunt, fielder's choice and groundout ended the threat.

Another solo shot in the fourth pushed the MSU lead to 6-0 as senior Logan Foulks hit a one-out long ball to left.

Owen gave up her lone hit of the contest in the top of the fifth with the McGuire double, but bounced back with consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs ended the contest with two runs for the 8-0 final score. After a foul out started the frame, consecutive singles by Echols, Nichols and Winkfield loaded the bases with one out. Offutt popped out to second, but Shape was hit by a pitch to force in a run for a seven-run lead and Foulks received a free pass for the final run.

MSU wraps up its season-opening home stand on Tuesday with a 5 p.m. CT contest against Southeastern Louisiana.

Post-Game Notes

In three years under head coach Vann Stuedeman, MSU has gone 12-1 during the initial tournaments of the campaign.

Mississippi State finished opening weekend hitting .368 as a team with a .519 on-base percentage.

With four runs in the bottom of the second, the Bulldogs tallied at least one inning with four or more runs in every game of the tournament.

MSU completed the five games with 24 stolen bases. A year ago through five games, the Bulldogs had tallied 17 swipes. Mississippi State did not reach the 24-swipe total until game seven in 2013.

The Bulldogs reached base 61.5 percent of the time when leading off an inning during the opening-weekend tournament.

Mississippi State delivered 21 two-out RBI in the tournament while opponents picked up just one.

Senior Heidi Shape continued her regular-season hot streak with two walks and a hit by pitch that forced in a run Sunday. Shape, who has started every game of her MSU career, has hit .410 (16-for-39) with 13 runs batted in during her last 15 regular-season contests.

Senior Logan Foulks continued her run-producing start to the campaign with two more RBI. She has driven in eight during the first five games of the season.

Freshman Caroline Seitz slugged .929 during the opening weekend. The rookie MSU single-season record is .756 by Courtney Bures in 2005.

Junior Julia Echols has hit .500 (five-for-10) with four runs batted in during the first five games of the season. In all of 2013, Echols tallied 10 RBI and 17 hits.

Junior Katie Gentle's double in the second inning was the first pinch hit for MSU this season.

Senior pitcher Alison Owen earned the win versus Jacksonville State, upping her career nonconference record to 15-4.

Women's Tennis

After an almost two-week break from action, the 75th-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team resumed its 2014 slate on Saturday, defeating the visiting UAB Blazers 7-0 while not dropping a single set the entire afternoon.

With the win, State improved to 3-1 on the season, while UAB fell to 1-3 overall.

The Bulldogs kicked off the match scoring by taking the doubles point, with the duo of Georgiana Patrasc and Naomi Tran taking their match with a 6-3 win over Amy Lowther and Catherine Ragon on court 2. Petra Ferancova also picked up a doubles win in her first match since the January 19 season opener, pairing with Rosie Dion for a 6-2 win on court 3 over Paula Castro and Pardis Kianoush. Timea Guibe and Alexandra Perper wrapped up doubles action with a 6-2 win on No. 1 over Rachel Daniell and Elaine Simon.

In singles action, Dion kept her 2014 dual match record unblemished, defeating Ragon 6-1, 6-0 on No. 4 for a 2-0 MSU lead. Perper made the score 3-0 with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Daniell at the top spot in the lineup. The 84th-ranked Patrasc would then clinch the match on No. 2, with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Lowther.

Freshman Rosalinda Calderon picked up her first collegiate victory in the next decision, taking a 6-4, 6-4 decision on court 6 over Castro. Tran and Guibe would complete the sweep of UAB with straight-set wins on courts 5 and 3, respectively.

"It was a challenge for the girls to be off for almost two weeks," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "But they responded well. They played solid in doubles and were able to keep that going into singles. It was a collective effort and I'm really proud of how everyone played today."

The Bulldogs will be back in action on Friday at 2 p.m., as they travel to Houston, Texas to face Stephen F. Austin in a neutral site match. The team will stay in Houston through Sunday, when they face the University of Houston at 10 a.m.

For more information on Mississippi State women's tennis, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (@HailStateWT), Facebook (HailStateWT) and Instagram (HailStateWT).

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