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MSU opens SEC softball play at home

March 7, 2012

The second season starts for the Mississippi State softball team today and second just happens to start with SEC.

It's a new opportunity for coach Vann Stuedeman and her Bulldogs when the Florida Gators come calling to the MSU Softball Field for the SEC opener. The twinbill begins at 4 p.m.

"We're excited about starting the second season," Stuedeman said. "Ultimately, the game has no memory so it doesn't matter what has happened behind us. We'll focus on one pitch at a time, one moment at a time and move forward. We'll welcome the Gators into town and have fun with that."

Mississippi State brings a 14-5 record into today's matchup with third-ranked Florida, which has an overall mark of 19-1.

Starting with today's encounter with the Gators, the Bulldogs know that game-in and game-out they are going to be dealing with some of the toughest competition in the country.

MSU's Jessica Cooley, who was just recognized as the SEC and National Player of the Week, said the team must continue to push forward and follow Stuedeman's lead.

"We've just got to stick with what we are doing right now," Cooley said. "Our team is working hard and our coaches are doing an awesome job. We've got to focus on one game at a time and one pitch at a time and we'll be successful."

Cooley went 10-for-19 with five home runs, eight runs scored and 17 RBI last week for the Bulldogs to gain the national honor. For the season, she has a .370 batting average with eight home runs and 23 RBI.

Brittany Bell has a .500 batting average (23 hits in 46 at-bats) to top MSU and adds six home runs and 22 RBI.

The Bulldogs have five pitchers in the rotation with Kylie Vry, Stephanie Becker, Lindsey Dunlap, Misty Flesher and Shana Sherrod all contributing.

Vry has the best earned run average on the staff at 1.37, while Becker has the best record at 7-1.

MSU has a 1.82 ERA as a pitching staff and a .344 batting average on offense.

Stuedeman hopes the Bulldogs are ready for the challenge Florida presents and there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case in her mind.

"If you are competitive, this is the league to play in," Stuedeman said. "When you are a little girl, this is the type of competition you want to play in so we are eager to get started and excited about the second season."

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