The Notebook: Reviewing a successful Easter weekend of athletics

Welcome back from the holiday, for those who got one, anyway. If not, then welcome back from the weekend!

While absolutely nothing happened on campus (and odd change after Super Bulldog Weekend eight days ago), there was much going on across the country for various Mississippi State teams, and most of it was very good.

AGXZCAQKCJRWFTS.20140420043406As a recognition of speed, we’ll start with the fastest news around.

– MSU sophomore Brandon McBride (who won the indoor national title in the 800 meter dash) just set an MSU outdoor 800m record over the weekend, clocking in at 1:45.35, the fastest time in the NCAA.

To put that in perspective, 800m is a half mile, and while it doesn’t work this way at all, his time would come out to running a mile in 3:30. Very impressive.

– Speaking of impressive, MSU softball had the SEC Pitcher of the Week for the second week in a row after freshman Alexis Silkwood earned the honor today following her stellar road performance at Tennessee, including a shutout victory in the opener Friday night.

After senior Alison Owen won it last week following big outings against Alabama,  MSU’s back-to-back honorees have done it against the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the country.

Those honors, of course, reflect a huge swing the last couple weeks, with MSU taking down two top-five teams, one at home and one on the road. The Bulldogs seem to be clicking and getting hot at the right time, with only six regular season games left and in seemingly good position for the NCAA Tournament.

Oh, and one more softball note to pass along: third baseman Caroline Seitz was named as a finalist last week for the NFCA national Freshman of the Year. Lots of good things happening over there.

HBMTKQVFQCBYSCM.20140328213931– Sticking on the diamond, you likely saw where MSU baseball swept Missouri in Columbia over the weekend, moving the Bulldogs into a tie for third in the West and just two games back from first in the SEC overall.

Following the sweep, MSU moved up to No. 20 in the Perfect Game, Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America polls with a record of 26-15 (10-8 SEC). The Bulldogs have now won four of their six SEC series this season, with Texas A&M coming to town this weekend.

In particular, pitchers deserve extended mention as senior Ben Bracewell, junior Jonathan Holder and junior Ross Mitchell were crucial in getting the wins.

Bracewell threw six innings Sunday, the second-longest outing of the year, recording seven strike outs and only allowing one run to keep MSU in the game.

For the third time this year, Mitchell threw a complete game for MSU on Saturday, allowing only two runs over the course of 142 pitches. Beyond the individual performance, his nine-inning effort saved the bullpen, setting John Cohen’s team up for the sweep in extra innings on Sunday.

On Friday night, Holder came up huge in a close contest, pitching 5.1 innings of scoreless relief in an 11-inning game.

On the offensive side, MSU’s bats had big weekends as the Bulldogs tallied 31 hits over the course of the weekend, getting several clutch hits with runners on base.

In particular, a pair of freshmen – Cody Brown and Reid Humphreys – had impressive weekends at the plate in the re-tooled lineup (which seemed to work), while seniors CT Bradford and Derrick Armstrong continued their hot hitting and clutch moments.

– In one final note on teams preparing for the postseason, MSU’s women’s golf team had a superb final round in the SEC Tournament, carding an 8-over-par 296, the third-best final round score in the conference.

– Switching to fall sports as we end this, good news came for Dan Mullen’s program today.

Junior quarterback Dak Prescott has been invited to attend the Manning Passing Academy this summer as a counselor, an honor extended annually to the nation’s top college quarterbacks.

This marks the second year in a row for MSU’s starting QB to attend after Tyler Russell went last summer for the Bulldogs.

– On the basketball court, this news came late last week, but is worth sharing again as Rick Ray announced the signing of junior college forward Johnny Zuppardo.

A national title winner at Jones County Junior College this season, Zuppardo averaged 15.2 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game as a versatile forward. Over the course of the campaign, he shot 62.7 percent from the floor and 43.1 percent beyond the arc. He also racked up 32 steals and 25 blocked shots.


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