By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State wraps up first fall season under head coach Vann Stuedeman today in Starkville.
After four games on the road, the Bulldogs will finish their fall season with a doubleheader against in-state rival Southern Mississippi.
Since Stuedeman took over the helm of the Bulldogs' softball program this summer, she has been "grindin" since she set foot on campus but she finally got to take the field with her team about a month ago to start the fall season.
MSU won their first three games under Stuedeman in three different cities of "our state" which she feels is great for everyone involved.
"It's been a great experience for everybody," said Stuedeman. "We've gotten out into our state and met some great folks involved with softball and we've had the opportunity to get into uniform and play against somebody other than ourselves. Intra-squads and scrimmages only take you so far, so to see our hitters, defense and pitchers against an opponent has been extremely beneficial, especially for a new staff coming in, because it helps us know what we have for our spring season and helps with recruiting for the future."
State has started the fall season strong, but Stuedeman knows there are some challenges that comes when new staffs enter a program, but she feels they have on challenge bigger than the rest.
"Our biggest challenge as a new staff is getting everybody in the canoe and rowing at the same exact time," said Stuedeman. "We have to be on the same page with them learning me and me learning them as well and it has been a learning fall. We've learned from each other and it's been a lot of fun, but can we get paddling at the same time fast enough?"
Before Friday night's game in Birmingham, there had been some explosive and memorable moments from the fall season. In the first three games, there were two memorable home runs, one from sophomore catcher Sam Lenahan and the second from freshman infielder Swayze Hollenhead. Lenahan's long ball was a grand slam but Hollenhead's could be more special since hers came on the first pitch she ever saw in college. Hollenhead, who pitched during here high school career at East Webster, will be changing roles this season.
"She's going to be a utility player," said Stuedeman. "Sometimes she'll be in the middle infield and on the corner, but you might even see her at catcher at some point."
Another Bulldog being productive on offense is senior Brittany Gates who has an on-base percentage around .700. There is a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen providing production for MSU which makes Stuedeman feel good about here lineup.
"We are getting (production) from all classes," said Stuedeman. "It's important to have it spread out across the classes so that when we graduate someone, we have someone to take their place, and we have an exciting lineup for sure."
Exciting is the best word to describe the team who appears to have adopted "boom" as a catch phrase, but for Stuedeman, the excitement of getting to coach her first game on campus might have caused her to lose sleep last night.
"It will be a sleepless night," said Stuedeman on Friday. "It's like waiting on Santa Claus to get here, I'm sure excited about the opportunity to wear the maroon and white in front of everybody (today). I'm super fired up about being in Starkville on our home field, I think our girls are going to be excited and I think we are going to have a good turn out, because we have great fans."
Admission is free and game one is set for 1 p.m. with the "people's professor" Whit Waide throwing out the first pitch. Fans will also have a chance to win a pair of tickets to the football game against Alabama on Nov. 12 at Davis Wade Stadium.