Men's Ten­nis

Starkville Daily News - - ATHLETICS -

PEN­SACOLA, Fla. – Nuno Borges picked up where he left off Tues­day in his first tour­na­ment since tak­ing the ITA Na­tional Fall Cham­pi­onships sin­gles crown, post­ing a marathon three-set tri­umph to open play in the USTA Pen­sacola Fu­tures' main draw.

Mis­sis­sippi State men's ten­nis' Al­lAmer­i­can and fourth-seeded Borges emerged vic­to­ri­ous in 2-hour and 14-minute bat­tle against Tu­lane's Con­stantin Sch­mitz (ATP 997), tak­ing a 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-2 vic­tory. Sch­mitz is cur­rently ranked 13th na­tion­ally in the In­ter­col­le­giate Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion rank­ings. Borges is No. 2 and now owns a 4-0 record in his ca­reer against Sch­mitz.

With the win, Borges ad­vances to the Round of 16, which be­gins Thurs­day, where he will face the win­ner of today's match be­tween U.S. Open qual­i­fier Patrick Kyp­son (ATP 895) and Wash­ing­ton stand­out Jake Dou­glas (ATP 1498).

Today, State sopho­more sen­sa­tion Gio­vanno Ora­dini will open up his play in the main draw against Govind Nanda (ATP 1255) of the United States.

Softball

One of the top re­cruits in the na­tion will be join­ing Mis­sis­sippi State softball next sea­son as coach Vann Stuede­man an­nounced the sign­ing of stand­out pitcher Grace Fa­gan.

“Grace will make an im­me­di­ate im­pact in the cir­cle,” Stuede­man said. “She is a strong lefty with a huge pres­ence and an even big­ger work ethic. She is com­pelled to be the best she can be and that men­tal­ity is go­ing to take her and our team to big places.”

In the midst of her se­nior sea­son as a team cap­tain at Kingsway Re­gional High School, the Swedes­boro, N.J., na­tive comes to Starkville as the 2017 South Jer­sey Pitcher of the Year. Fa­gan was ranked as high as eight by Flo Softball and signs as the 19th-ranked player of the 2018 class.

“I chose Mis­sis­sippi State be­cause of the at­mos­phere that I ex­pe­ri­enced while I was on my first visit,” Fa­gan said. “It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence to see the amount of pride that the peo­ple around Starkville take in Mis­sis­sippi State. Every­one I met made me feel ex­tremely wel­comed like I be­longed in Starkville. The fa­cil­i­ties are amaz­ing and the coach­ing staff is awe­some.”

Fa­gan is com­ing off an im­pres­sive ju­nior sea­son as she led the Dragons to a 24-5 record and the Tri-County Con­fer­enceRoyal Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­onship. Fa­gan and the Dragons reached the quar­ter­fi­nals of the stacked South Jer­sey Group 4 state tour­na­ment.

The hard-throw­ing lefty struck out 316 in 166 in­nings of work, posted a 1.14 ERA and held op­po­nents to just a .140 av­er­age over her first sea­son as a full-time var­sity starter en route to South Jer­sey Pitcher of the Year hon­ors. Fa­gan was a sta­ple in the third spot of the bat­ting order and held a .415 av­er­age at the plate with help of 44 hits. Her ef­forts also earned Fa­gan first team All-Con­fer­ence and All-State lau­rels, and the left-han­der was a nom­i­nee for New Jer­sey Ga­torade Player of the Year.

As a fresh­man, Fa­gan served as the No. 2 pitcher for KRHS as the Dragons fin­ished 21-5. Fa­gan held a 9-1 record in the cir­cle and struck out 74 in her de­but sea­son.

Fa­gan did not play her sopho­more sea­son with Kingsway Re­gional as she was ex­ten­sively trav­el­ing as a mem­ber of Birm­ing­ham Thun­der­bolts Pre­mier along with fel­low fu­ture Bull­dog Kayla Bose­man. The Thun­der­bolts is one of the pre­mier travel teams over the last sev­eral years, and Fa­gan's time was high­lighted by car­ry­ing the team to a third-place fin­ish at the 2016 PGF Na­tional Cham­pi­onship.

Aca­dem­i­cally, Fa­gan is part of the Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety and World Lan­guage Na­tional Hon­ors So­ci­ety. Fa­gan also vol­un­teers with Mir­a­cle League, help­ing special-needs chil­dren play baseball and softball.

Fa­gan comes from a highly ath­letic fam­ily. Her par­ents Tracy and Sean were both four-year let­ter­win­ners in bas­ket­ball at Mt. Saint Mary's Col­lege, while her mother was in­ducted into the Mt. Saint Mary's Hall of Fame. Her broth­ers Jor­dan and Bradley both played bas­ket­ball at Cabrini Col­lege.

Women's Bas­ket­ball

Add an­other watch list for Mis­sis­sippi State se­niors Vic­to­ria Vi­vians and Mor­gan Wil­liam as the duo was among the top 30 play­ers cho­sen Tues­day for the pres­ti­gious John R. Wooden Award pre­sented by Wendy's.

The se­nior guards were se­lected by a panel of na­tional women's col­lege bas­ket­ball me­dia mem­bers, and the top 30 was an­nounced on ESPN's Sport­sCen­ter and es­pnW.

Vi­vians and Wil­liam are two of six South­east­ern Con­fer­ence play­ers on the list. Mis­sis­sippi State is one of eight schools to have mul­ti­ple play­ers on the list. Ten­nessee is the only other SEC school with two or more se­lec­tions.

Vi­vians, a 2017 third team As­so­ci­ated Press All-Amer­i­can, had quite the de­but for Mis­sis­sippi State in its sea­son-open­ing win against Vir­ginia, tal­ly­ing 22 points on 8-of-15 (53.3 per­cent) shoot­ing from the field. She also grabbed 7 re­bounds.

The Carthage na­tive passed Alexis Rack for third place on State's ca­reer scor­ing list. Her 1,776-ca­reer points puts her be­hind only for­mer MSU All-Amer­i­cans La­Toya Thomas and Tan White in pro­gram an­nals.

Prior to the sea­son, Vi­vians was se­lected to the Ann Mey­ers Drys­dale Award Watch List for the na­tion's top shoot­ing guard and was a Pre­sea­son All-SEC se­lec­tion af­ter earn­ing first team ac­co­lades the pre­vi­ous two years.

Wil­liam joined Vi­vians in gar­ner­ing Pre­sea­son All-SEC hon­ors, and she was se­lected to the Nancy Lieber­man Award Watch List for the coun­try's top point guard af­ter a stel­lar ju­nior cam­paign that saw her av­er­age 10.9 points per game and dish a school-record 181 as­sists.

The Birm­ing­ham, Ala., na­tive be­came the Bull­dogs' ca­reer as­sists leader last sea­son, and she brought her to­tal to 488 with eight dimes in Fri­day's sea­son-open­ing win against Vir­ginia.

Wil­liam also sits atop the MSU record books at the free-throw line with an 84.3 ca­reer per­cent­age that is ninth in SEC an­nals.

Coach Vic Schae­fer's Bull­dogs re­turn to ac­tion Thurs­day, host­ing Georgia State in a 7 p.m. tip at the Humphrey Coli­seum. MSU closes out a sea­son-open­ing three-game home­s­tand Sun­day at 2 p.m. against in-state foe South­ern Miss.

Both games will be streamed live on­line on SEC Net­work +. Ad­mis­sion to all MSU home games is $5 for adults and $3 for youth age 18 and un­der. Youth 12 and un­der can get free ad­mis­sion to all women's bas­ket­ball games by join­ing Bully's Kids Club at www. bullyskid­sclub.com.

Vol­ley­ball

Due to a con­flict with men's bas­ket­ball at home, Mis­sis­sippi State vol­ley­ball has moved its se­nior day match against Texas A&M to an ear­lier time.

First serve against the Ag­gies on Wed­nes­day, Nov. 22 will take place at 3 p.m. on the SEC Net­work +. Fans can also ac­cess the game via the WatchESPN app.

This week­end, MSU hosts Mis­souri at 7 p.m. on Fri­day and then trav­els to Auburn for a Sun­day match at 1:30 p.m.

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