April 2, 2012 6:43:36 AM
STARKVILLE - Without further ado:
Item No. 1 - Mississippi State men's basketball coaching news -
CBSSports.com national college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman broke the story earlier Sunday afternoon saying the deal with the Clemson associate head coach and MSU Director of Athletics was done.
Ray has just finished his second season at Clemson after four years as an assistant at Purdue University. He also was an assistant at Northern Illinois University for two seasons and Indiana State University. Ray is well known as a top nationally recruiter.
Ray takes over for Rick Stansbury after he retired earlier this month after 14 years as the Bulldogs head coach and 22 seasons as a member of the MSU men's basketball coaching staff.
The hire was announced Sunday afternoon and late Sunday night Stricklin was giving Ray and his family a private tour of the athletics facilities on the MSU campus in Starkville. He is expected to be named at a media conference scheduled for 10 a.m. in Humphrey Coliseum.
"He's well-respected in the business," Brownell said. "He has the ability to be both demanding with his players to make them better on and off the court, and still develop long-lasting relationships with them. He is a great hire for Mississippi State.".
In 2009, the Boilermakers won the Big Ten Tournament and were a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In 2010, Ray helped the Boilermakers to 29 wins, tied for the most in Purdue history for a single season. Purdue was a No. 4 seed this past March and lost in the round of 16 to eventual NCAA champion Duke.
"Rick Ray is a tireless worker and fierce competitor, two traits that will serve him well as he leads Mississippi State basketball into a new era," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "MSU is getting a great young coach with the energy and drive to be successful."
Item No. 2 - Mississippi State baseball news -
AUBURN,Ala. - Mississippi State allowed seven two-out runs to Auburn Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park. That offensive production was enough to life the 24th-ranked Tigers to an 8-2 win over the Bulldogs in the final game of a weekend three-game Southeastern Conference series.
With the victory, Auburn improved to 17-11 overall and 6-3 in conference play. MSU fell to 18-11 and 3-6. The Tigers have won four straight series from the Bulldogs here on the plains. Auburn has opened league play with three straight series wins for the first time since 2003.
"We are not as locked in as we need to be to win series in this league," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Our pitching staff is pitching well enough to win some games. We made too many mistakes during the course of a game. We need to grow up in a hurry. The Bulldogs made three errors which led to three unearned runs for the Tigers. On the bases, the Bulldogs were picked off twice and made an additional out trying to advance on an errant throw.
"We need some experience," Cohen said. "Right now, these kids have really had their minds blown by everything that has taken place in the last three weekends. They have been exposed to a lot in a hurry."
MSU had a chance at the early lead when Mitch Slauter and C.T. Bradford began the second inning with back-to-back hits. Instead, each was picked off and the Bulldogs were denied in that at-bat.
Auburn then built a 4-0 lead when the Bulldogs could not turn a double play ball to escape the third inning. Instead, the Tigers mixed four hits and two errors to streak to the early lead.
Down 5-0, the Bulldogs battled back with a pair of scores in the fifth inning. Hunter Renfroe started things with a one-out single. Sam Frost followed with a double.An infield error brought home the innings' first run. After a walk to Matthew Britton loaded the bases, Adam Frazier hit a blooper to center field.
Not knowing if the ball would drop, Wes Rea was late getting to third base. Again,Auburn mishandled the play on the infield, allowing one run to score. Rea was safe at third base but out trying to take home on the play.
After that uprising, MSU managed two hits and two total base runners the rest of the way.
Auburn chased starting pitcher Kendall Graveman (2-1) with two runs in the fifth inning. Graveman allowed eight hits and seven runs (four earned), with two strikeouts and three walks. Caleb Reed followed with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Ben Bracewell returned to the mound for the first time in a month and was touched for two two-out hits and a run in the Auburn eighth inning.
"We need pitchers who can shove the ball in the strike zone," Cohen said. "We had problems getting that in this series."
The Bulldogs finished with seven hits. Slauter and Sam Frost each multiple hits.
The Tigers finished with 12 hits, including three by Justin Bryant. Ryan Tella,Garrett Cooper and Dan Glevenyak each added multiple hits.
Daniel Koger (2-1) pitched six innings for the win. Koger allowed six hits and two runs (both earned). Slade Smith faced one batter past the minimum in three innings of shutout relief to earn his third save.
MSU hosts Mississippi Valley State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Item No. 3 - Mississippi State softball news -
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University softball coach Vann Stuedeman tried everything and still came up short Sunday afternoon against her former employer.
Stuedeman used every pitcher on her roster, got multi-hit games out of three different players and even worked their opponent's ace hurler to a 125-pitch outing. The result was still the same.
The University of Alabama easily completed a three-game sweep of MSU with a 9-3 victory in Starkville and what was the Crimson Tide's 26th straight win against the Bulldogs program.
"That's why they're arguably the best team in the country," Stuedeman said. "We've got to be able to stop the bleeding when a team is building the potential for a big inning."
That big inning for Alabama (35-1, 12-1) was the fourth frame when the visitors from Tuscaloosa put up six runs to change what had been a tight game wide open into a blowout situation.
It began when Alabama shortstop Kaila Hunt hit solo home run and then MSU starting pitcher Stephanie Becker loaded the bases thanks to an error, bunt single and a walk. The ninth hitter in Alabama's lineup was Danae Hays and the second baseman deposited Becker's first pitch over the wall in left field for a grand slam giving the Tide a
commanding 6-1 lead.
"We didn't a very good job with runners on base all weekend and the grand slam really helped that today," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "It was awesome way to end the weekend. What I really thought we did well today was have patience and wait for the strike before we pounced."
For the first time this season, Stuedeman used all five pitchers on her staff. Junior left-hander Stephanie Becker started in the circle and gave up seven runs (five earned) on five hits and three walks.
Shana Sherrod, Lindsey Dunlap, Misty Flesher and Kylie Vry combined to give up just one hit and a run over the final 3 2/3 innings.
The major difference between MSU (19-18, 3-13 in SEC) and the Crimson Tide was the lack of a dominant starting pitcher as compared to Alabama ace Jackie Traina (21-0), who picked up two wins and a save this weekend.
"Day three in this conference is really tough on the pitching and you usually see a lot more offense," Stuedeman said. "Hats off to Jackie Traina, who was fabulous all weekend in the circle."
Traina held MSU to one earned run over six innings while striking out five in 125 pitches less than 24 hours after nailing down the final inning for her first save of the 2012 season.
MSU batters Ka'ili Smith (2-for-4), Sam Lenahan (2-for-4) and Brittany Gates (2-for-3) each collected multiple hits. One of those nine MSU hits was a seventh-inning solo home run by senior designated player Brittany Bell, her eighth of the 2012 season.
"We have 18-20 games left and if we continue to do this before the SEC Tournament, nobody will be ready for us," Smith said. "Every day we fight for it and we won't stop giving up."
Following the Alabama grand slam in the fourth, MSU left the bases loaded in the following two innings leading to the Bulldogs having 10 stranded base runners throughout the afternoon.
"We're hitting the ball and hitting it well but we need some luck in that regard," Stuedeman said. "That timely hit is going to fall - no doubt."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
3. Escaping North Korea BOOK REVIEWS