The Mississippi State Bulldogs believe they are ready for whatever the postseason has to dish out.
After competing through 10 Southeastern Conference series throughout the season, MSU softball coach Vann Stuedeman said there's no better way to prepare for a playoff situation.
"Week-in and week-out, the SEC is a super regional," Stuedeman said. "You are playing the best two out of three with some of the best college softball teams in the nation so we can go in there with confidence and know we have been battle-tested since day one. That's got to create confidence going in and we will definitely use that (experience)."
The Bulldogs take on the Brigham Young Cougars today at the Eugene Regional, which is hosted by Oregon. The first pitch in Eugene, Ore., has been set for 5 p.m..
Mississippi State has an overall record of 33-22, including 12-16 in SEC play. The Bulldogs lost a first-round game at the SEC Tournament to Alabama 5-2 in Tuscaloosa one week ago.
Stuedeman said the SEC set up the season in such a fashion to give a postseason feel in every series.
"The SEC has done a great job," Stuedeman said. "Our SEC play all year long is formatted like postseason play so when our SEC teams get into postseason play, the timing is exactly the same. We feel comfortable with the pregame routine."
There are nine SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament this season and MSU is making its ninth appearance in softball's version of the Big Dance but first since 2009.
Stuedeman sees this as a foundation-building event for the Bulldogs.
"Once you are in and you get that feeling and want to be there, they pass it on to each class after them," Stuedeman said. "It's the desire and excitement of the postseason. The upperclassmen's experience will be vital to the success of our tournament run and the ones that have not been to get the experience will be vital in future trips."
MSU is led offensively by two seniors as Brittany Bell is hitting .381 (56 hits in 147 at-bats), while Ka'ili Smith is batting .352 (56 hits in 159 at-bats). Jessica Cooley has the best power numbers with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
Stephanie Becker has been the main Bulldog in the circle this season with 43 appearances, 36 starts and 182.2 innings pitched. She has an 18-10 record with a 2.49 earned run average, but her status for the regional is in question because of an arm injury. Stuedeman said the availability of Becker will be a "game-day decision."
If Becker is unable to throw, the likely starter will be Kylie Vry (9-8, 3.55 ERA, 14 starts).
MSU and BYU begin the opening day of the regional, while Oregon and Portland State play the second game at 8 p.m.
Today's winners meet at 1 p.m. Friday, while the losers face each other at 4 p.m.
MSU softball video streammed
Free live audio and video streaming of all Mississippi State softball games in the Eugene Regional will be available through HailStateTV at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive.
The audio will feature MSU play-by-play announcer Anthony Craven while the video will be available through HSTV via a stream share from the University of Oregon. The video can also be accessed through Oregon's official web site at www.goducks.com/liveEvents/liveEvents.dbml.
The Bulldogs open against the Brigham Young Cougars at 5 p.m. today.
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