The Vann Stuedeman era is off to a fast start as the Bulldogs opened the softball season by winning all four games played in the Mardi Gras Invitational in Mobile, Ala. over the weekend.
Mississippi State scored 27 runs while allowing just 10 runs over the four games. Despite the run disparity, the Bulldogs had three come from behind victories, two in the later innings including the season opener against South Alabama.
“I was extremely pleased," Stuedeman said. "I never thought for one second that we weren’t going to win that game. The girls had 100 percent energy and focus in every moment. They were focused in from first pitch to last pitch.”
Stuedeman has stressed each day to her young team to ‘live in the moment’ and that’s something the Bulldogs took to heart.
“It was definitely fun to go out and have two come from behind victories," Stuedeman said. "We’ve been talking a lot about being competitors and the game is not over until it is over.
“I think they are totally expecting excellence from themselves more than they had in the past. There are tons of things to work on, but obviously there are a lot of things to be proud of over the weekend.”
At the plate, Jessica Offutt paced MSU with six hits and four RBI, however Brittany Bell led in productivity with five RBI on five hits with just 10 at-bats. the Bulldogs also hit four home runs, two from Jessica Cooley and one from both Bell (grand slam in season opener) and Sam Lenahan.
From the circle, Kylie Vry picked up a pair of wins allowing two runs on nine hits while striking out 16 batters. Stephanie Becker and Lindsey Dunlap picked up the other wins over the weekend for MSU. As a staff, the Bulldogs turned in a 1.75 earned run average for the weekend.
Like most teams, MSU had a growing up moment over the weekend, one that their coach hopes sticks with them the rest of the season.
“I think Sunday was (when they got it). I think they have bought in,” Stuedeman said. “I think they are totally believing. It is just that actually believing and seeing it work are different things.
“Sunday, we came out a little flat and we had a moment in the game where we were trying to generate energy from somewhere and we did. We generated some energy and put a run on the board, but we go out on defense and we gave that run immediately back. So we had another conversation about being in the moment, giving everything you have right now. We were able to come out with an eight-run inning and that happened to be enough.”
Next up today, the Bulldogs will take on Samford and former Stuedeman pupil in first-year head coach Mandy Burdord, who played for Stuedeman during her days at Alabama.
Samford enters the game after going 2-2 over the weekend with a pair of wins over South Dakota and pair of losses to Iona.
First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. in Birmingham, Ala.