STARKVILLE, Miss. – Madison Arroyo, a freshman infielder from Waxhaw, N.C., was a four-year starter at Marvin Ridge High School. As a senior, she helped the Mavericks to the Southern Carolinas Conference regular season and tournament titles. The squad advanced to the fourth round of the North Carolina 3A West playoffs, marking the deepest postseason run in program history.
Arroyo played travel softball in the summers for the Lady Lightning Gold.
Arroyo spent some time with HailState.com this week as she prepares for her first season as a Bulldog.
Q: What made you know Mississippi State was the right place for you?
A: I get asked that question a lot because I’m so far from home. Mississippi State got into the recruiting process and pretty much just won me over.
When I visited, I came with my dad and I was like, “This is it.” When you know, you just know. The coaching staff, the facilities, everything about Mississippi State just won me over right away. It was a really easy decision.
Q: What made you know you wanted to play for head coach Vann Stuedeman?
A: Her energy is just through the roof 24/7. It’s top-notch all the time. She’s so excited and intrigued about the sport. She cares so much about her players and what we can do for the sport. That means a lot.
It’s just amazing to watch her coach. It makes you want to have fun. She makes softball fun and she’s a fun person herself.
Q: You have gone through some individual drills and are into team practices now. What has it been like working with assistant coaches Alan Reach and Beth Mullins? What have they helped you improve?
A: Hitting, fielding, everything. Honestly I have learned so much in the month I have been here. Collegiate softball is so much faster. I’m learning how to be a student of the game. In travel ball it was all about the skills. Now you all have the skills because you’re here and you know the game. I’m learning the approach and what you do in certain situations.
Q: Do you feel like you have a more advanced approach at the plate than you did a month ago?
A: Oh yes. You have to because you can’t just go [up and get a hit] because everyone is so good. It’s just another level. You have to go up there with an approach because if you don’t, you’ll fail.
Q: How has the family atmosphere of the team helped you?
A: It helps so much. The older girls have brought us in like we’ve been here for four years with them. Even the sophomores, they went through it last year and know what to expect, and they’ve helped us so much. I’m still learning and making mistakes each day, but I’ve learned a lot.
We hang out a lot off the field. I still talk to my parents every day so I’m not homesick at all. The team just makes it a lot easier.
Q: Have the older players helped you in an on-the-field sense, too?
A: Completely. They have helped me so much. Even drills that you think are simple are not. There’s just so much you have to put into each drill. You have to do it a certain way and they’ll let us know this is how you do that. They have helped me a lot with that.
Our upperclassmen still make mistakes, too. When I do make mistakes, they’re like, “Brush it off. You’re good. It happens to the best of us.”
That makes it a lot easier transition to learning. It’s good to have your teammates as a support system.
Q: Have you found a favorite place on campus yet?
A: I find myself in Templeton [Athletic Academic Center] a lot. The food in the cafeteria there is really good. It’s special not only because the food is really good, but you also meet a lot of new people. It’s open to everyone, but you mostly just see athletes in there. You meet the tennis players and the golfers and the football players. You feel special.
Q: What’s it like having a strength coach who is there to help you out all the time?
A: I love Coach Cat [assistant strength coach Alicia Catlette]. She’s the bomb. She’s so awesome. She’s great at her job and she’s helped me so much.
Even in the month, I feel stronger and more in shape than I ever thought I could be. You get into a habit, so I know in the off-season and when I go home I’ll keep it up. You feel good and you kind of get into that lifestyle.
Q: What has it been like being a student at Mississippi State?
A: It has been different. You have all these classes and these tests plus you have to balance sports and the rest of your life. If you sit back and say, “Oh, this will all come easy,” that’s when you’re late and not up-to-date with everything.
Tutoring has helped so much and being required to do these study hours has helped. You get into these study habits that I never thought I would have in high school and they are so good for me.
Q: What do you want to major in?
A: Communications. I want to be in broadcast and do something with sports. I love sports and I’ve been around them all my life and I enjoy watching them. I love football and talking about sports is my thing.
Q: What has been the most unexpectedly good thing about being here at Mississippi State?
A: How people know you without really knowing you. When you’re an athlete here at Mississippi State, it’s like you’re a different person because athletics are so big.
When people come and watch practice I’m like, “Why would they want to come watch practice?” But they’re so interested in it and the people who contribute to the program are so awesome.
Q: Have you bought your cowbell yet?
A: I did. Katie Ann Bailey (another MSU softball freshman) made all the freshmen yellow cowbells with softball lines on them and our names. So we stand out because we’re like the only ones with yellow cowbells, but they’re cool.
I got it back in November and I was back in North Carolina just ringing my cowbell, especially when the baseball team went to Omaha. I was just ringing it and yelling, “Go State!”