by Graham Murphree, Student Assistant/Communications
STARKVILLE - The time has come for four more Bulldogs to kick the dust off their tournament shoes and bags and begin their fall season campaign by representing Mississippi State in tennis action this weekend.
A pair of Bulldogs will start their 2019 fall competition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the 44th Milwaukee Tennis Classic: Giovanni Oradini and Nicolas Ocana.
The tournament, which runs from Sept. 20-23 at the Western Racquet Club, is a double-elimination tournament featuring top-level collegiate talent. The winner of the singles draw will earn a wildcard entry into the ITA's Fall National Championships.
The senior All-American Oradini, currently ranked 24th nationally, received the No. 2 seed in the tournament. He will face William Kirkman of Arizona State Friday no earlier than 9:30 a.m. CT. At the same time, the true freshman Ocana will take the court for his first match on the collegiate level. He will take court against the tournament's top seed in Illinois' 79th-ranked Zeke Clark.
The tournament will also feature a doubles draw. Ocana and Oradini, the No. 7 seed this weekend, will open play at 8 a.m. CT Friday, battling Washington's tandem of Lenard Soha and Jared Pratt.
In addition to the State pair in Wisconsin, another rookie/veteran duo will be opening their fall slates 885 miles away in Cary, North Carolina, at the Duke Bonk Invitational. 2018 ITA Southern Region Rookie of the Year Florian Broska and Bulldog freshman Davide Tortora will compete in the three-day event, being held at Cary Tennis Park.
Broska and Tortora will open weekend action as the No. 1 seed in the Black draw (while playing doubles together for the first time ever), where they will take on Cole Brainard and Collin Thomson of UNC Charlotte at 9 a.m. ET Friday morning. A second round of doubles will follow at 10 a.m.
In singles, the true freshman Tortora opens as the top seed in the White draw. There he will face Virginia Tech's Brandon Perez at 2 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.
Broska will compete in the Blue draw. He will also see his first singles competition at 2 p.m. Friday, meeting Chase Burton of Liberty.
Up Next for MSU…
After returning from the two tournaments this weekend, the Bulldogs will prepare for one of the biggest and top tier tournaments of the year—the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma featuring some of the best student athletes in the nation. The bulldogs will also prepare for the Georgia Tech Invite in Atlanta, Georgia.
For more information on the Mississippi State men's tennis program, follow "HailStateMT" on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
by Mikaela Elizondo, Graduate Assistant/Communications
GREENVILLE, S.C. –
The Mississippi State women's tennis team opens its 2019 fall campaign this weekend in Greenville, South Carolina, at the Debbie Southern Fall Classic on Sept. 20-22.
The tournament, hosted by Furman, will be held at the Mickel Tennis Center. In addition to Furman, 11 teams will also join the Bulldogs in action, including Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ohio State, Texas and Wake Forest along with SEC foes South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. All 13 teams appearing this weekend were ranked among the top 65 in last year's final ITA team rankings.
"We are extremely excited to kick off the fall season this weekend," head coach Daryl Greenan said. "Our Bulldogs have been training hard, and they are looking forward to testing themselves against a strong field. It has traditionally been a high-level event, and this year is more packed than ever. We have a couple of new girls who will be playing their first ever college matches, so it will be interesting to see how they respond."
MSU's roster features one senior in Sara Lizariturry, who held a 16-13 singles record last year. Lizariturry also posted a stellar 16-2 doubles mark alongside Janina Braun and a team-best 7-2 record in SEC play.
Magda Adaloglou, Emma Antonaki, Tamara Racine and Meredith Roberts also return for Mississippi State this season.
A year ago, Adaloglou and Antonaki posted 18-18 and 25-13 singles records, respectively. Adaloglou was 17-13 overall in doubles alongside Racine. Antonaki's rookie resume featured a team-high 17 singles wins in dual match play, all at the top two spots in the lineup, and a trip to the NCAA Singles Championship to end the year.
Racine posted an 11-11 record in her first season as a Bulldog at the No. 4 spot in the lineup, highlighted by clinching State's first-ever victory over Florida. As a duo, Adaloglou and Racine clinched five doubles points and were ranked 50th nationally at the end of the season. Roberts posted an 8-10 record in singles in her sophomore campaign.
Marta Falceto, Alexandra Mikhailuk and Valeria Nikolaev will make their debuts in the Maroon and White this season.
Falceto comes to Starkville from Zaragoza, Spain, where she was the No. 2 junior under 16 in Spain and the 44th-ranked Spanish woman overall in 2017. Mikhailuk is a highly decorated Ontario, Canada, product. She finished top three in U16 Canadian singles and second in doubles in 2017.
Nikolaev, who redshirted her first year on campus, was a finalist in both the ITF Junior singles and doubles championships before coming to State. She will not compete this weekend due to injury.
The Bulldogs are set to start play with doubles this weekend at 9 a.m. ET on Friday. Adaloglou and Racine – ranked 14th
nationally entering 2019-20 - will pair for MSU in Flight 1, Antonaki and Mikhailuk in Flight 3 and Falceto and Lizariturry in Flight 4.
State will then wrap up the day with singles action starting at 12 p.m. ET. Antonaki, ranked 41st
in the country, is set to compete in Flight 1 for the Bulldogs, Adaloglou (ranked 115th
) in Flight 3, Mikhailuk in Flight 4, Racine in Flight 6, Falceto in Flight 8, Lizariturry in Flight 9 and Roberts in Flight 10. Play will continue on Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on Mississippi State women's tennis team, visit HailState.com and follow "HailStateWT" on Twitter
Debbie Southern Fall Classic Schedule
All Times ETDoubles Round One (begins at 9 a.m.)
Magda Adaloglou/Tamara Racine (MSU) vs. Chloe Beck/Meible Chi (Duke)
Emma Antonaki/Alexandra Mikhailuk (MSU) vs. Saby Nihalani/Anna Brylin (Wake Forest)
Marta Falceto/Sara Lizariturry (MSU) vs. Nami Otsuka/Gia Cohen (Georgia Tech)
Mary Hunter Hyche (Furman)/Dasha Kourkina (Vanderbilt) vs. Meredith Roberts (MSU)/Gabby Cusano (Texas)
Doubles Round Two (begins at 10:15 a.m.)
Main Draw & Consolation
Singles Round One (begins at 12:00 p.m.)
Emma Antonaki (MSU) vs. Kenya Jones (Georgia Tech)
Magda Adaloglou (MSU) vs. Allie Sanford (North Carolina)
Alexandra Mikhailuk (MSU) vs. Anika Yarlagadda (North Carolina)
Tamara Racine (MSU) vs. Joanna Silva (Tennessee)
Marta Falceto (MSU) vs. Andrea Garcia (Florida State)
Sara Lizariturry (MSU) vs. MC Meredith (Wake Forest)
Meredith Roberts (MSU) vs. Ema Lazic (Duke)
by Shelby Spurlock, Student Assistant/CommunicationsNASHVILLE, Tenn. –
Coming off a strong season-opening performance in New Mexico, the Mississippi State women's golf team will look to continue it's strong start as it returns to action at the Mason Rudolph Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee on Sept. 20-22.
The Bulldogs will play 54 holes over three days at the Par-72, 6,430-yard Vanderbilt Legends North Course. Out of the 15-team field, nine teams competed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, including Mississippi State.
Head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm is looking forward to seeing how her team matches up against a competitive field this weekend.
"I always look forward to competing at an SEC event," said Brown-Lemm. "We return to Vanderbilt Legends North Course after a five year hiatus feeling very good about the five that we are competing with this week. We look forward to the challenge, and as always, our goal is to win championships."
Aubree Jones and Ashley Gilliam, two of the five in the lineup are familiar with the course from their time in Tennessee Junior Golf.
"I'm really excited to be heading to Tennessee to play," Jones said. "It gives you a different feeling when you're headed towards home to compete. All of us have been playing some really good golf and working hard in between events, so I'm excited to see what we can do this weekend."
Senior Clara Moyano will lead the Bulldogs after her strong 12th
place finish at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. After tying for 14th
in New Mexico, junior Blair Stockett has also earned a spot on the lineup this weekend. Freshman Abbey Daniel rounds out the Bulldogs competing this weekend as she makes her collegiate debut.
For more information on the Bulldogs, follow MSU women's golf on Twitter
, like them on Facebook
and join them on Instagram
by searching for "HailStateWG."
Friday-Sunday, September 20-22, 2019Course:
Vanderbilt Legends North Course | Franklin, Tenn.Yardage:
6,430 – Par 72Format:
Play 5, count 4Teams
: (15) Auburn, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Clemson, Florida Atlantic, Houston, Louisville, Mercer, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwestern, UCF, VanderbiltMississippi State Lineup
1. Clara Moyano
2. Blair Stockett,
3. Aubree Jones
4. Ashley Gilliam
5. Abbey Daniel
by Bill Martin, Senior Associate Athletic Director/Communications
The Mississippi State M-Club Alumni Association has announced the recipients of two of the association's highest honors that will be handed out Friday night at the MSU Sports Hall of Fame Gala. Stan Black will posthumously receive the Dowsing-Bell Valor Award and Mike W. Sanders will receive the Leo Seal Jr. M-Club Award.
The Dowsing-Bell Valor Award was created in 2018 in honor of the school's first African-American student-athletes, Frank Dowsing Jr. and Robert Bell. The two were teammates from 1969-72 as members of the Bulldog football team.
Black, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference safety and 1976 All-American, died on Aug. 24, 2018, in a roadside vehicle accident after stopping to assist a motorist just north of Canton, Mississippi, on Interstate 55. From 1973-76, Black registered 196 tackles and four interceptions while totaling 590 yards in punt and kick returns. He was a key member of the Bulldogs' 1974 Sun Bowl squad that finished 9-3 and ranked No. 17 in the final Associated Press poll.
Black began his career at safety in 1973 and moved to wide receiver in 1974 where he had 14 receptions for 266 yards and four touchdowns. He transitioned back to safety in 1975, a season that saw him earn AP Second-Team All-SEC honors after producing 105 tackles and a team-best three interceptions. Black captured All-America accolades and first-team All-SEC recognition from the AP and UPI as a senior in 1976.
Black's teammate, Larry Brooks, was the inaugural winner of the Dowsing-Bell Award in 2018.
The Leo Seal Jr. M-Club Award was created to honor a former letterman for his or her outstanding loyalty, dedication and service to Mississippi State. In addition, the award recognizes a former letterman who has been successful in business and the community. Leo Seal Jr. received the inaugural award. Sanders is the third former letterman to receive this award, which is not given annually.
Sanders, a 1964 MSU graduate, is the former longtime president and CEO of Jimmy Sanders Inc., one of the Mid-South's largest agricultural input supply and distribution businesses. He was the recipient of the MSU National Alumnus of the Year Award in 2014. Sanders has been a board member for the Alumni Foundation, MSU Foundation and Bulldog Club. On April 10, 2015, MSU's track was named in his honor.
Sanders began his Bulldog career in 1960 after receiving a dual scholarship for football and track and field. His football career ended due to injuries, but he was able to continue track and field during his time at State. In his sophomore year, he and fellow members of the MSU track and field squad competed in and won the 1962 SEC championship.
The Dowsing-Bell Valor and Leo Seal Jr. M-Club Awards will be given out on a night that five former student-athletes are inducted into the MSU Sports Hall of Fame. The distinguished list includes Dowsing Jr. (1969-72, posthumously), All-SEC running back Michael Haddix (1979-82), All-SEC outfielder Mike Kelley (1976-79), volleyball and softball's Tina (Burcham) Seals (1981-84, 2004-08) and All-SEC men's basketball standout Darryl Wilson (1994-96).
The 2019 MSU Sports Hall of Fame Class will also be recognized at halftime of the Bulldogs' SEC opener against Kentucky on Saturday in Davis Wade Stadium.
For more information on the inductees, click here.
By Austin Coats, Graduate Assistant/Communications
Note: This week HailState.com will recognize members of the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The class will be formally inducted at a gala Friday, Sept. 20 and recognized during the MSU-Kentucky football game in Davis Wade Stadium.
Tina Seals' 10 total seasons as a student-athlete and head coach were defined by determination, hard work and excellence.
That story was being written from even before her career began at Mississippi State.
A talented two-sport athlete out of a volleyball powerhouse in Bradshaw High School, Seals had her pick of universities to play at. However, Seals was more than just an athlete - she wanted a place where she could excel both on the court and in the classroom.
That place was Mississippi State.
Attracted to the strong engineering school, Seals chose to play both volleyball and softball at MSU, knowing that the demands of academics and athletics would push her to her limits.
"[The engineering department head] made it clear that he did not think it was a good idea," Seals said.
Characteristically, Seals embraced the challenge.
"You don't just tell me that I can't do something," Seals said. "That made it even more appealing because I wanted to prove that yes, I could."
A starter all throughout her career in Maroon and White, Seals said she felt the pressure to perform early on, while learning how tough the SEC can be.
In a freshman road trip to Ole Miss, Seals got a good taste. During the match, Seals went up for a block, but instead was hit in the head by the ball. Instead of cowering to the embarrassment, Seals used it as fuel. The next time the team visited Oxford, Seals remembered having one of her best performances.
"I took it out on the ball," Seals said.
Following her junior season, Seals traveled to Japan and China with Athletes in Action while playing alongside some of college volleyball's best talent. Seals said this experience was key going into her final campaign at MSU.
She came back to Starkville sharp. In the fall of 1984, Seals collected 387 kills and a .316 hitting percentage on her way to becoming the first MSU volleyball student-athlete in program history to earn All-SEC honors.
"I didn't know anything else to do but to play hard," Seals said. "I didn't know anything but "give me the ball, and I'm going to put it down."
After a fifth year on campus that she spent as a student assistant coach, Seals path was wide open. Seals finished her time in Starkville with a degree in civil engineering, and had job offers waiting for her in her field of study. She settled in with the Tennessee Valley Authority Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Alabama, but she didn't let go of her passion for volleyball. In her first year after playing at MSU, Seals began working with local-area kids and eventually started a club of 40-50 players.
Seals' next journey included more education and more volleyball. After receiving her math education master's degree at the University of North Alabama, Seals taught at Northwest Shoals Community College, where she then started the softball and volleyball programs. It was her first step into the collegiate coaching world. Twelve years into that, her next stepped called.
In the spring of 2004, Mississippi State asked Seals to be its next volleyball head coach. At first, Seals was hesitant and even turned her alma mater down. After talking with her family about it more, she changed her mind and called the Bulldogs back, and in March, Seals was introduced as the ninth head coach in program history.
"It had always been a dream of mine," Seals said. "I always wanted to go back and coach at my alma mater."
In her first season, Seals improved the Bulldogs record from 3-23 the season prior to 14-16 in 2004 ahead of back-to-back winning seasons in 2005 and 2006.
In her opening season, a moment stands out to Seals. After traveling to Baton Rouge to play LSU, the Bulldogs went into the locker room down 2-0. Seals encouraged her team to be resolute.
"I told them under no circumstances were we leaving without giving our all," Seals said.
Fifteen years later, the record book boasts a 3-2 win for Mississippi State.
"I won't forget that," Seals said.
The next season produced the school's first SEC tournament berth in 2005 as the program boasted a school-record 17 wins after the team opened the campaign with a 10-1 mark.
After a memorable five seasons at Mississippi State, Seals is still contributing to volleyball in the area. While teaching math at East Mississippi Community College, Seals runs Level Elite Sports out of Columbus, Mississippi, which has teams in Columbus, as well as Florence, Alabama. Seals said she is excited about the direction of volleyball in the state of Mississippi.
"Volleyball has grown so much," Seals said. "I just think it takes quality coaches to get it there and to teach the other coaches, and we have a lot of quality coaches in this area."
With all that she has done for the Mississippi State volleyball, it's time that Seals is recognized for her contributions. As she is inducted into the MSU Sports Hall of Fame this weekend, Seals will also be honored at MSU volleyball's home tournament, the Hail State Invitational.
"I'm excited to be back in that atmosphere to be able to support Mississippi State and see how far they've come in such a short amount of time, this season," Seals said. "I'm so excited about the direction of the program."
by Brian Ogden, Assistant Coordinator/Communications
Mississippi State soccer will look to make history when the Bulldogs open conference play on Thursday against No. 15/13 Texas A&M at 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network
The Aggies are the only SEC team that MSU has never beaten. State is also looking to start league play with a win for just the third time in program history and the first time since 2002 when the Bulldogs defeated Arkansas, 3-0.
"Texas A&M is one of the most-established programs in the country," head coach James Armstrong said. "In the preseason SEC coaches' poll, they were predicted to finish first. They're always going to be a formidable opponent, but one that we're looking forward to playing. We feel like we can play really hard on our home field in front of our fans, and we're excited about it. You've got to play them, so why not open up with them?"
Fans in attendance will receive free pizza, and those that bring their cowbells will be entered to win two tickets to Saturday's football game against Kentucky. Additionally, dog bones will be hidden across the Drill Field on Thursday morning that students can redeem for prizes at the evening's match.
The last time a top-25 team visited Starkville, the Bulldogs knocked off then-No. 13/6 South Carolina in double overtime in front of a school-record crowd thanks to a strike from Zakirah McGillivary. McGillivary scored a third of State's goals in conference play last year, including each of the Bulldog's game-winners against SEC opponents.
MSU's defense is currently holding opponents to just 10 shots per game this year, a pace that would be a school record, while averaging just 3.8 fouls per game over the last four matches. The back line will be put to the test against the Aggies, however.
Texas A&M has fired 137 shots this year, which ranks fourth in the SEC. The Aggies have put 42.3 percent of those attempts on frame and average 2.00 goals per game, but a common opponent managed to shut them down.
Both teams have lost to undefeated No. 7/7 BYU this year, but the Bulldogs remain the only team to have scored against the Cougars in 2019. State's only losses this year have come to ranked teams, and those teams have just one loss combined between them.
MSU is off on Sunday but returns to action next week for the 25th
installment of the Magnolia Cup against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs and Rebels will kick off on SEC Network at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Thursday 7 p.m. CTBroadcast: SEC Network
(PxP – Anthony Craven; Analyst – Chris Nasuti)
Oct. 12, 2018 (MSU 1 at TAMU 2)
- MSU picked up 36 fouls on its two-game non-conference road trip, but without those games the Bulldogs would be averaging just 4.1 fouls per game and have the lowest mark in the SEC.
- Zakirah McGillivary led the way in conference play last year, scoring a third of the Bulldogs' goals in SEC matches, including all of their game-winning goals in the league.
- Hailey Farrington-Bentil, Monigo Karnley, Sam Stiglmair and Andrea Tyrrell have all scored their first career goals this year.
- The Bulldogs are holding opponents to just 10.0 shots per game this year, which is lower than last year's school record of 11.5. MSU has held five opponents below their season average this year.
- MSU will once again be one of the youngest teams in the SEC. The Bulldogs enter the season with 13 freshman, which is tied for second in the league with Tennessee. Kentucky leads with 14.
- A win would mark just the third time MSU has started SEC play 1-0-0 and the first since State won, 3-0, against Arkansas in 2002. The only other time the Bulldogs did so came with a 1-0 victory at LSU in 1997. MSU has never beaten a ranked team to open league play.
- State has played 24 players this year with 15 different starters. Six players have started every match. In their first eight matches, the Bulldogs have used seven different starting lineup combinations.
For more information on the Bulldog soccer program, follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for "HailStateSOC."
by: Greg Campbell, Assistant Director/CommunicationsNote: This week HailState.com will recognize members of the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The class will be formally inducted at a gala Friday, Sept. 20 and recognized during the MSU-Kentucky football game in Davis Wade Stadium.
They say in life that when one door closes, another door opens. For Mississippi State baseball alum Mike Kelley, that was true on multiple occasions before his college baseball career even got started.
As a high schooler, Kelley's coach at West Maine High School encouraged him to write a letter to Ron Polk, then the head coach at Georgia Southern, expressing his interest in being a part of Polk's program. Eventually, he received a note back from Polk, who communicated that his roster was already built for the season, but he could help him find a junior college to play at if Kelley was interested.
Later that summer, Kelley was invited to a scouting tryout by Major League Baseball icon Harry "The Hat" Walker. After making it through the tryout, Kelley was offered a minor league contract by the St. Louis Cardinals, but admittedly wasn't ready to embark on the minor league baseball circuit. One thing he knew, however, was he wanted to continue his baseball career.
"Back in 1975 there were only a handful of programs around the country that were known for big time college baseball," Kelley said. "Those programs were where all of the studs went, and I wasn't a stud...but I wanted to go somewhere south and try to make it [as a baseball player]."
Following his scouting tryout, Kelley was contacted by then-Mississippi State head coach Jimmy Bragan and offered a walk-on spot with the Bulldogs.
So, the Des Plains, Illinois, native headed to Starkville and still remembers the first time he saw Dudy Noble Field.
"They were just building Humphrey Coliseum. I remember walking down [from the athletic dorms], coming over the hill to the back of the coliseum and seeing that baseball field for the first time…that old field was beautiful to me," said Kelley. "[I remember thinking to myself,] 'I am going to do this.'"
After going through fall workouts, Kelley earned a spot on the roster for the spring before heading home for Christmas break. During break news broke that Bragan would join the Milwaukee Brewers staff, which left State searching for a head coach just two months before the 1976 season was to start.
Ironically, Kelley would get his chance to play for Polk, who was hired soon after Bragan's departure. That series of events broke the hinges off of a door that was closed in Kelley's mind.
"My whole career trajectory probably changed because of [the coaching change]," said Kelley. "I had a whole season to figure things out and listen to what Coach Polk wanted me to do. It couldn't have worked out better."
From walk-on to starting lineup, the 5-foot-8, 155-pound left-handed hitter played in all 45 games during his freshman season and led the team in batting average and RBIs. Kelley hit over .300 in each of his four seasons, including a .400 average during his senior campaign. Forty years removed, Kelley's MSU career records for stolen bases (79) and outfield assists (21) still stand, while his .357 career batting average is now tied for 10th on the career charts.
As a senior in 1979, Kelley helped guide the Bulldogs to the SEC regular season and tournament championships as well as the program's second-ever College World Series appearance. The 1979 squad finished with a then-school record 48 victories and a 17-2 mark in SEC play. In the process, Kelley was tabbed an American Baseball Coaches Association All-American.
Kelley was a two-time first-team All-SEC honoree (1977, '79), a two-time ABCA All-Region selection (1977, '79) and a two-time NCAA Regional All-Tournament team member (1978, '79). He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round following his stellar senior campaign.
After all of the twists and turns for Kelley, the final door opens on his collegiate baseball career when he enters the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame this weekend. When he looks back, there is a sense of pride at what he and his teammates were able to accomplish.
"Obviously it's a great honor and it means a lot," said Kelley. "It probably means more because of the fact that it has been 40 years and [the selection] is based on what I did while I was at Mississippi State. It's based on the stats and baseball is pretty stats oriented…To me, the thing that I am proudest of is that I played a role in getting the program to a spot where guys like [Will] Clark and [Rafael] Palmeiro wanted to come to Mississippi State.
"I feel like I was on the ground floor of building something that has turned into something pretty special. When you look at the new ballpark and what the program has turned into, it's really cool to think that I was a part of laying that foundation."
While many things have changed – both on campus and in the Starkville community – Kelley says that his memories in Starkville are something that he would never give back.
"I wouldn't have traded it for the world. It was a very unique environment and gave me the opportunity to go a lot of places and see a lot of different things. Ron made sure that the things we did had an application beyond baseball…I worked hard for what I was able to accomplish [at Mississippi State], and it got me to where I am today."
The 8-1 Mississippi State volleyball team is back at home this week as it hosts the Hail State Invitational at the Newell Grissom Building, Thursday and Friday (Sept. 19-20).
MSU welcomes Jackson State, North Florida and UAB to The Griss.
"The team is focused and ready to work hard to end our non-conference slate on a high note," MSU volleyball head coach Julie Darty
said. "The team chemistry continues to get better with each opportunity we get on the court."
All three of Mississippi State's matches will be available for live stream via SEC Network , and the whole tournament can be followed via live stats.
The Hail State Invitational kicks off with a 10 a.m. CT matchup between North Florida and UAB. At noon, MSU takes on Jackson State in the first meeting between the programs since 2017. State holds 16-match win streak against the Tigers and has not lost a set to JSU since 1981.
A doubleheader day for the Dawgs closes with a 7 p.m. contest against North Florida. It will be the first meeting for the two programs.
On Friday at 5 p.m., State hosts UAB. The Bulldogs have won the last two matchups against the Blazers, the most recent coming in 2013.
"I am excited to welcome three talented teams to Starkville this Thursday and Friday," Darty said. "These will be very challenging matches for us, and that is exactly what we need heading into SEC play. If we can continue to focus on our side of the net and our first contact, I think those two things will help us be in a position to have success.
MSU's 8-1 record to start the 2019 campaign is, in part, thanks to double-doubles and defense.
With nine so far, the Bulldogs rank No. 3 in the SEC in double-doubles. Five different student-athletes have recorded a double, which is tied for the most in the conference. Also, three freshmen - Callie Minshew
, Katie Culumovic
and Makenzie Jordan
- have collected double-doubles, the most in the league.
Senior setter Alleah Stamatis
, who sits tied for fourth in the conference with 0.39 aces per set and 10th with 3.30 digs per set, is also the co-leader in the SEC with five double-doubles over eight matches played.
The Bulldog defense has been stellar early, ranking in the SEC Top 5 in opponent hitting percentage (fourth - .133), digs per set (third - 14.56) and blocks per set (second - 2.42).
Most recently, State went 2-1 last weekend at the Gamecock Classic. Stamatis led the team with 72 assists, two double-doubles, 35 digs and three service aces, while sophomore Deja Robinson
tallied a .511 hitting percentage and 17 blocks. Fellow sophomore Gabby Waden
totaled 40 kills for the weekend.
"I like how we have responded after going 2-1 last weekend," Darty said. "We just need to continue to be consistent and continue to take ownership of our jobs and do those jobs well individually to make the team better as a whole. I'm really excited to be back home and I am hoping we have the best fans in the country at the Griss to support us."
On Friday before MSU's 5 p.m. matchup with UAB, the first 200 Mississippi State University freshmen students in attendance will receive a freshman themed "Feelin' Fresh" tank top.
Hail State Invitational
For more information on the Bulldogs, follow the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching @HailStateVB.
* All times central
by Taylor Shirey, Assistant Director/Communications
STARKVILLE – Head coach Samantha Ricketts announced the final piece of her full-time staff as former Bulldog standout Kayla Winkfield returns to Starkville as the program's coordinator of softball operations.
"I am excited to bring Kayla back full time to Starkville," Ricketts said. "She brings championship experience from her time as a pro and is a proud Mississippi State softball alum. She fits in perfectly with the strengths and goals of our new staff."
One of the most prolific infielders in program history, Winkfield is no stranger to the softball support staff. The Giddings, Texas, native spent the 2017 season as a student assistant coach before returning to the program as a graduate assistant manager for the 2018 and 2019 campaigns all while competing on the professional level.
Winkfield will serve as the program's primary liaison with adidas, coordinate all team travel and manage player relations. In addition, Winkfield will also oversee the MSU softball team managers.
The infielder wore the Maroon and White over the 2013-16 seasons, finishing her career ranked tied seventh in stolen bases (75) and tied for ninth in triples (10).
Over her freshman season, Winkfield closed the year third on the team with 17 stolen bases. She registered 10 hits, six walks and scored 17 runs. She held a .333 average at the plate and helped snapped MSU's 21-game losing streak against LSU as a pinch runner when she stole a base and scored the game-winning run against the No. 12 Tigers.
She followed up that performance with 13 stolen bases as a sophomore and ranked third on the team with 106 putouts at shortstop coupled with 58 assists. She turned in a breakout performance as a junior, ending the season with a .331 average with help of 57 hits. She also slugged nine doubles and four triples.
Winkfield closed her career by leading the SEC in triples (6) and triples per game (0.11). The senior put up a .330 average in the box with 59 hits, 36 runs scored, 17 stolen bases and a .438 slugging percentage.
She became the 12th Bulldog in program history to play professionally as she was drafted as the 35th overall pick in the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
In her rookie season, she led the Rebellion in batting average (.296), slugging percentage (.417) and assists (59). In January of 2017, Winkfield was signed by the Scrap Yard Fast Pitch through the 2018 season.
Over the 2017 season with Scrap Yard, Winkfield held a .262 average at the plate with 32 hits and 23 runs scored while swiping 11 bases. Defensively, she held a .963 fielding percentage with 57 putouts and 22 assists with just three errors. Her performance helped carry Scrap Yard to the 2017 Cowles Cup Championship. Winkfield wrapped up her fourth season of professional softball and her third with Scrap Yard Fastpitch over the summer of 2019.
The daughter of William and Patricia Winkfield, she was born Kayla Camille Winkfield on April 14, 1994, in Austin, Texas. She has one sister Keanna. Winkfield earned her degree in human sciences from Mississippi State in 2017. She graduated with her master's degree in human development and family science in May of 2019.
Kid Captain is a collaboration between Children's of Mississippi and the Mississippi State Bulldogs to salute pediatric patients. Their inspirational stories remind us just how truly courageous these young people are.
This week's Children's of Mississippi Kid Captain is Trace Brannan
of Mount Olive.
At age four, Trace began having severe headaches. After multiple tests, his pediatrician discovered he had a rare disorder causing brain tissue to extend into his spinal canal, harming both areas. He came to Children's of Mississippi for treatment: brain surgery to relieve pressure inside his head and prevent further damage.
He spent five days in Batson Children's Hospital before going home and, when his spinal column began leaking fluid, returned twice more for more care. Fortunately, he fully recovered without additional surgery.
With Mississippi's only children's hospital and pediatric clinics across the state, Children's of Mississippi doctors work together to care for kids at every step, in every location. Only UMMC can provide this level of help for children like Trace
. In fact, Mississippi State recognizes Children's of Mississippi as their official children's hospital.
Now, thanks to his team at Children's of Mississippi, his parents, Terry and Adriane, say he is doing great! Trace returns every year for an MRI to monitor his brain and spine, something he will do until he is finished growing. Healthy as can be, he can do whatever he likes apart from playing contact sports.
An active, happy nine-year old, Trace enjoys doing anything outside, especially deer hunting and fishing.
Have fun at Saturday's game, Trace
! Your friends at Children's of Mississippi are cheering for you!
Help us grow so they can grow.
You can help kids like Trace with a tax deductible gift to expand and improve Mississippi's only hospital for children. Give today at growchildrens.org.