Softball Announces 2012-13 Schedule

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Vann Stuedeman is looking to take the softball team to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.
Photo Courtesy of hailstate.com

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Raising expectations after a debut campaign that saw the Mississippi State softball team reach its ninth NCAA Tournament, Head Coach Vann Stuedeman announced a daunting 2012-13 schedule Thursday. The Maroon and White will play at least 24 games against 11 teams that made last year's field of 64, including three-game sets against two Southeastern Conference divisional rivals that played in the 2012 Women's College World Series.

"We are taking this program to another level with this schedule," Stuedeman, the winningest first-year coach in school history, said. "Fans should be excited about this schedule because it's an opportunity for us to play the best, beat the best and be the best."

Stuedeman's squad begins competition in late September with the second annual "Tour De Miss" exhibition schedule. On Sept. 29, the Bulldogs travel to Southaven, Miss., to battle Shelton State. Following the game at Southaven High School, the first 100 fans age 10-18 will be provided with a free softball clinic and MSU softball t-shirt.

The stakes get higher the next day as Starkville's Team plays against the greatest collection of softball talent on earth - the National Pro Fastpitch All-Stars. The game takes place at South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss. Admission is $5 for the game only and $10 for the game plus a post-game clinic.

"We are playing against the New York Yankees of softball," Stuedeman explained. "It is an exciting measuring stick against the very best in our sport, as I look forward to our players one day playing side by side with them."

For the first time in Stuedeman's tenure, the Bulldogs will play on the coast Oct. 6 as they step on the diamond to take on the Marion Military Institute at 5 p.m. at Harrison Central High School in Gulfport. Before first pitch, there will be a pitching clinic from 10 a.m. until noon, with a free hitting clinic going from 1-3 p.m.

Two weeks later on Oct. 14, history will be made as the head coach goes up against her older sister Les Stuedeman in Huntsville, Ala., as part of a doubleheader vs. Alabama-Huntsville and Chattanooga State. The opening game against the Chargers will mark the first time in history Vann and Les have been in the opposite dugouts as head coaches.

As always, the exhibition schedule ends in Starkville at the MSU Softball Stadium on Oct. 21 against Wallace-Hanceville. The day before, players will conduct a pitching expo and sign autographs in The Junction prior to the homecoming football game against Middle Tennessee State. Following the game Sunday, the team will host an exclusive picnic inside the practice facility with fans that attended the clinics around the state.

It counts for real Feb. 7 when the Maroon and White host the 2013 season opener against 2011 NCAA Tournament squad South Alabama, who MSU defeated on the road in last year's season opener for Stuedeman's first win as a head coach. The rest of the month is filled out with the Kickoff Classic (Feb. 8-10) and the Bulldog Battle (Feb. 15-17) tournaments at home, a battle on the bayou against 2012 Super Regional squad Louisiana Feb. 13 and the Memphis Tiger Invitational in the land of the Delta blues Feb. 23-24.

From magical music to the Magic Kingdom, MSU will travel to the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex for the ultra-competitive Citrus Classic March 1-3 before hosting Memphis back in Starkville March 6.

The SEC lid-lifter for the Maroon and White takes place March 8-10 at home against 2011 WCWS participant LSU, before going on a four game, five day, spring break road trip March 12-15 against Jacksonville State, College of Charleston (DH) and Charleston Southern.

Returning home, MSU will play eight-consecutive games vs. tourney teams from a year ago: at home against Louisiana March 20, at Kentucky March 22-24, at UAB March 26 and at home vs. Auburn March 29-31.

The stretch run toward the postseason begins with back-to-back games against Jackson State at home (April 2) and a game vs. UAB in Ridgeland, Miss., the following night. The Bulldogs then travel to the Sunshine State to take on Florida April 5-7. The final four conference tilts include a home rivalry clash against Ole Miss April 12-14, on the road at defending national champion Alabama April 19-21, Senior Weekend vs. South Carolina in Starkville April 26-28 and on the road at new SEC member Texas A&M in a battle for maroon supremacy.

Sprinkled in that time frame will be non-conference midweek games against NCAA tourney teams Mississippi Valley State (April 24) and Houston (May 6), as well as a dogfight on the diamond against Samford April 16.

Kentucky will host the 2013 SEC Tournament May 8-11, with the NCAA Tournament beginning May 8 at campus sites across the country. For more information on MSU softball, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB.

2012-13 Schedule Highlights

  • Toughest Schedule Ever: At least 24 games against 11 teams that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament (More games are possible in early-season tournament play).
  • Sept. 30: National Pro Fast-Pitch All-Stars in Batesville, Miss.
  • Feb. 8-17: Kickoff Classic and Bulldog Battle Tournaments at home.
  • March 8-10: SEC opening series at home vs. 2011 Women's College World Series participant LSU.
  • April 19-21: Three-game series at defending national champion Alabama.
  • April 28: Senior Day vs. South Carolina.

2011-12 Review:

  • Mississippi State made its ninth appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament (2000, 2002-05, 2007-09, 2012) and its first NCAA Regional appearance since 2009.
  • First-year Head Coach Vann Stuedeman and Georgia Southern Head Coach Annie Smith were the only two coaches in their first seasons as head coach to make the field of 64.
  • Stuedeman became the winningest first-year head coach in MSU history (.579).
  • Mississippi State finished the regular season with a 13-game winning streak against non-conference opponents, its longest such streak since MSU won a school-record 16-consecutive contests to begin the 2006 season. In midweek games alone, MSU went a flawless 8-0 against out-of-league foes.
  • The 2012 Bulldogs broke the school record for true road wins in a season with their 13th road win at Auburn on May 4, 2012. State had two five-game road winning streaks this season, its longest road winning streaks since winning eight in a row from March 27-April 19, 2001. The eight SEC road wins by MSU were the most since the Bulldogs won eight in 2001.
  • Starkville's Team ended the year winning 14 of its last 20 games, including a 12-game winning streak from April 10-May 4. The stretch was the Bulldogs' third-longest winning streak in school history.

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