So, a lot has been going on this week, though the fun of football signing day has been the focus of attention the last few days.
But, tonight and through the weekend, a lot is happening around MSU. I’ll post a nice and easy quick-hitter on the softball team below as they begin their season tonight at six in Starkville. They’ve even got a right field lounge, if you’d like to bring a picnic basket and have a good time.
A few other notes:
- The No. 10-ranked team in the country, Per Nilsson and the tennis Bulldogs travel to Jackson tonight for the River Hills Cup, the annual between State and Ole Miss. MSU won last year. MSU is currently 4-0, with all four victories coming over ranked opponents.
- The men’s indoor track team is yet another set of Bulldogs to be highly-ranked this time of year, coming in at No. 12 as the full track team is prepping for a pair of meets this weekend.
- New women’s soccer head coach Aaron Gordon announced his first signing class, a pretty good one from what I understand.
- If you somehow missed the action, here’s one link with pretty much everything you need to get caught up on football signing day.
- And it’s probably best for my self esteem if you missed this, but I attempted the softball team’s conditioning test last Friday, resulting in an embarrassing video and a lengthy column, both of which you can find here.
Speaking of softball, as we mentioned, Vann Stuedeman’s club begins the season tonight against South Alabama in the Bulldog Kickoff Classic.
“The whole objective this year has been higher expectations of yourself, your support staff and everyone around you so that we can be a contender. They know that that is the coaching staff’s goal. Last year at LSU, the box scores were the same for both teams, but the score is 4-0 LSU. I think that says a whole lot. They have a gorgeous stadium so they should win? It’s about expecting to do well. We talk about being winners and not necessarily judging by the scoreboard. We can go home every night – we call it the pillow test – you put your head on the pillow and say, ‘Did I do everything in my power to win the day?’”
MSU has three transfers this year, as well as a talented group of freshmen, to add to the fray. Stuedeman expects the newcomers to help bolster the pitching depth and performance at the plate, while maintaining the team speed the Bulldogs had last year.
She used the word ‘mayhem’ to describe what MSU wants to do on and around the bases this year, which sounds fun.
Stephanie Becker is the star of the pitching staff, now deeper with new arms, and Stuedeman expects a strong defense as a result.
“I wanted them to know how incredible they were and how good they were. I wanted to teach them that we were going to utilize a staff mentality. When I played, you could go around the country and name one dominant pitcher on each team and the scores were 1-0. We all came up with about seven around the country that are dominant pitchers and the starter plays the whole game. Seven, that’s all? We’re going to a baseball mentality with a starter, a closer and a middle reliever. We did that last year. We talked about the staff mentality and how each person sets the other one up for success.
I wanted to create a culture of confidence and a culture of a staff. In the bullpen, I wanted them to have an attitude that they can fail and it be ok because I wanted them to try out lots of thing that work for them instead of being in a cookie cutter type of pitching. They’ve experimented with a lot of ideas and we’ve tried to pick what works for each different one to make them better. I think it was them just buying into the staff philosophy and their willingness to experiment and learn and grow. It’s been incredible to work with them.”
With the season theme of higher expectations, the Bulldogs have also made an emphasis on conditioning and being prepared to have the end of anything be their’s. Stuedeman wants the last few innings of a game to be “our innings.” She wants the end of the season to be “our time of the season.”
Certainly, a big part of that will be MSU’s success hitting.
“Assistant Coach Alan Reach talks about the goal of the hitter is tocross the dish as much as you can. We lost Brittany Bell and Ka’iliSmith, and they were both in the top-10 in the SEC in batting average. We need a couple of people to step up to fill those holes. We want to get those kids in scoring position and score when they’re there. Last year, we would hit when there was no one in scoring position. Hopefully we’ll put a big emphasis on improving that. Now, we’re focusing on crossing the dish as much as we can and hit when it matters the most. We need some kids to step up.”
Including tonight’s game, the Bulldogs will be home all weekend, playing Troy Friday at 6:30 p.m., Tennessee State Saturday at 3:30 p.m., Georgia State immediately following their game vs. TSU and wrapping it up with a rematch vs. USA on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.