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The Maroon and White are a combined 8-1 against teams they're competing against in the Citrus Classic.
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Courtesy: hailstate.com

Stuedeman's Squad Heads To Sunshine State For Citrus Classic

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February 28, 2013
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After recording the best opening-month winning percentage since 2009, the Mississippi State softball team will head to the Sunshine State for five games in the competitive Citrus Classic, to be held March 1-3 at the internationally-known ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

Citrus Classic Central

"It is a really great opportunity to play in some warm weather against some great opponents," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "It prepares us for the following weekend with the start of SEC play."

The Maroon and White will kick things off Friday at 10 a.m. CT with a battle against 2012 NCAA Super Regional squad Hofstra (3-7), before playing Maryland (3-6) at 2:30 CT.

At 9 a.m. CT on Saturday, the Bulldogs play their first-ever contest against LIU-Brooklyn (2-12). The game will be available live on ESPN3, giving Bulldog fans a chance to watch the contest on their computer, smartphones or tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members.

Watch MSU vs. LIU-Brooklyn on ESPN3

Following the ESPN3 game against LIU, MSU takes on Fordham (4-6) at 11:15 a.m. CT Saturday. Starkville's Team closes out the Citrus Classic with a 10:15 CT first pitch against Syracuse (4-5) on Sunday.

"The fields are incredible, the tournament is well run and opponents will bring their 'A' game every outing," Stuedeman explained. "We better show up every pitch."

State posted a .692 winning percentage in the opening month of the season (9-4), the highest February winning percentage by a MSU team since the 2009 squad went 11-3 (.786). Seven of the last eight Bulldog teams to win at least 69 percent of their February games went on to play in that year's NCAA Tournament. The Maroon and White are a combined 8-1 against teams they're competing against in the Citrus Classic, while having won 22 of their last 28 non-conference games.

On pace to break nearly every single-season school record, the Bulldogs' pitching staff has been a big key to the success of the 2013 Dawgs. Stuedeman's pitching staff is on pace to shatter the season highs for strikeouts (on pace for 605), opponent batting average (.159) and strikeouts per seven innings (11.3). After pitching five shutouts in 57 games total in 2012, the MSU pitchers have already shut out four opponents through 13 games this season. A lot of the success comes with two outs, where Bulldog pitchers are holding opponents to a .093 batting average (9-for-97).

Inside the circle, MSU is led by junior Alison Owen, the reigning and defending SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week.  The right-hander currently leads the country with a 65-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while placing first in the SEC in opponent batting average (.076), fewest hits allowed (10) and fewest walks allowed (1).

Offensively, State is paced by junior infielder Sam Lenahan, who has rebounded from an early-season 1-for-12 slump. After hitting .083 in the first five games of the season, the right-handed slugger has dominated at the dish her last eight games, mashing at a .476 clip (10-for-21) with seven RBIs, six walks, five runs, three home runs and three doubles.

For live in-game updates of MSU's games in the Cirtrus Classic, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures from the Classic, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.

Following the Sunshine State games, the Bulldogs return home to Starkville for a four-game homestand, beginning with a non-conference matchup against Memphis on Wednesday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m. State concludes the homestand with the SEC series opener against 2012 Women's College World Series squad LSU March 8-10.

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