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ESPN reporter Kaylee Hartung leaves for CNN; Sam Ponder opens up about sexist tweets

After Mississippi State's 94-85 victory over Baylor in Sunday night in an NCAA women's Elite Eight game, Kaylee Hartung interviewed point guard Morgan Williams, who scored 41 points the day after the third anniversary of her father's death.

"This was for my dad," an emotional Williams told Hartung.

Afterward, Hartung, who has provided the network many moments like this over the past five years as a college reporter on ESPN and the SEC Network, announced it would be her last interview for ESPN.

"The decision to leave a job I love and take on a new challenge has been incredibly emotional, but the overwhelming feeling I have today is gratitude," Hartung said in a statement.

Sports fans might be surprised to learn that Hartung is leaving sports to take on a role at CNN, where she's expected to start as a national correspondent in April.

This won't be Hartung's first foray into news reporting. Before joining ESPN, she spent five years with CBS News, including working as an associate producer on Face the Nation.

Hartung's exit comes as ESPN prepares "significant" layoffs targeting its on-air talent to help relieve pressure caused by a combination of cord cutting and increasingly costly contracts with professional sports leagues.

Sam Ponder won't try to fill Chris Berman's shoes

Chris Berman's shoes were so big to fill, ESPN decided it took three people.

The network announced last week that Trey Wingo would take over Berman's duties on draft coverage, and Suzy Kolber would handle his hosting duties on Monday Night Countdown.

But taking over Berman's hosting duties on Sunday Morning Countdown is Sam Ponder, an out-of-the-box choice for ESPN considering her current role as a college football sideline reporter.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, Ponder said she's looking forward to the shift in her job duties.

"I really enjoy hosting, not necessarily because it provides more airtime, but because it allows me to be a part of more substantive discussions," Ponder said. "Sideline reporting was a great way to be a part of the game and develop relationships, but it's no big secret that it's relatively limiting."

Ponder, who is seven months pregnant, also opened up about the many sexist and vulgar tweets she has received on social media.

"Like any woman in the public eye, I get a considerable number of sexist/misogynistic tweets from people," Ponder said. "The irony of being told you're getting a job for sex appeal when you are seven months pregnant wearing your husband's clothes because nothing else fits and also covered in toddler pee (yeah, potty training isn't going great) was not lost on me."

Verne Lundquist was ready for the basketball this time

Last week, a video of Verne Lundquist went viral after an errant basketball hit the longtime CBS broadcaster in the face.

This time, he was ready.

During the second half of Saturday's Elite Eight matchup between South Carolina and Florida, Lundquist caught a basketball that had made its way to the announcer's desk.

"My nickname in high school was 'Hands,' " Lundquist joked later in the broadcast.