STARKVILLE, Miss. – Looking to extend her perfect record against in-state opponents, Mississippi State Head Coach Vann Stuedeman and the Bulldog softball team (24-14, 3-9 SEC) will host rival Ole Miss (21-23, 2-13) this weekend at the MSU Softball Stadium for a huge three-game conference clash. Admission to the series is free, but if you cannot attend, free live audio as well as video (except Friday) will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
“Rivalries represent what college athletics are all about, and we know the atmosphere is going to be electric this weekend,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “We all understand the importance of this rivalry, but we must focus on the process of playing the game, not the opponent.”
The series opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, and will be broadcast across the country on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app. Holly Rowe will call the action and Garland Cooper will serve as the analyst. The first 250 fans will receive free “Thank You Fans” shirts, while former MSU football All-American and 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks will throw out the first pitch. Prior to Banks’ throw, 80 “Dawg Bones” will be hidden in The Junction on Friday morning. Fans can collect up to two bones throughout the day and redeem them at the Dawg Diamond that night for various prizes such as a Dan Mullen autographed football helmet, a $50 Visa gift card, gift certificates to local Starkville restaurants and more.
Saturday’s game begins at 1 p.m., with the first 100 fans receiving limited edition “Hail State” sunglasses. “Greek Life Day” at the park concludes with a celebrity home run derby immediately following the game. The long-ball challenge will feature local celebs such as Banks, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and more.
Both teams will try to strike out cancer Sunday in the series finale starting at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will wear pink and the first 100 fans will receive pink Nerf softballs to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
For live in-game updates of MSU's rivalry series in Starkville, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, 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.
The Bulldogs are 34-20 all-time against the Rebels, including an 18-6 mark in Starkville. State swept the three-game set in Oxford last year, extending its winning streak to five against Ole Miss. The sweep contributed to Stuedeman’s 9-0 record all-time against in-state competition.
Friday's will mark the second-straight game in the series that has been on national television. The Bulldogs defeated the Rebels, 10-3, on April 15, 2012, in a game that was televised by FOX Sports South. Stuedeman's Bulldogs are 3-1 (.750) in games shown on national television the last two years.
Mississippi State is ranked 29th in the latest RPI release by the NCAA, its highest RPI rating in two seasons under Stuedeman, who is also 16-4 in two years in the month of April. The Bulldogs made the NCAA Tournament last season as an at-large team ranked 34th in the RPI. State jumped to 29th after upsetting No. 3 Florida this past Sunday by a score of 6-5. The win was the second in program history for MSU against a team ranked in the top three (W, 7-1 vs. No. 1 Arizona on Feb. 9, 2002). With the win, State also snapped a 17-game losing streak against Florida, which dated back to April 2007.
The Bulldogs are three victories away from securing a regular-season overall record of above .500, which would give the Maroon and White its first back-to-back seasons above .500 since 2007-08. With 16 games left in the regular season (24-14), State has also already tied its win total from 2011 (24-32), the year before Stuedeman arrived in Starkville.
Following the conference clash, MSU will travel to Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday for a 6 p.m. non-conference contest at Samford.
Media Coverage of Rivalry Week:
Friday, April 12th - Ole Miss (7:00 p.m.)
· GIVEAWAY: 250 Softball T-Shirts to First Fans in Attendance
· GIVEAWAY: MSU Custom Fans to First 50 Fans in Attendance - Honoring One MSU Senior
· First Pitch: 2012 Jim Thorpe Award Winner - Johnthan Banks
· Dawg Bone Claim from Around Campus - Prizes Ranging from Gift Cards & Autographed Memoriabilia to MSU Gear
· Facebook Friday Giveaway
· 2 Bulldog Coalition Points for Students
Saturday, April 13th - Ole Miss (1:00 p.m.)
· GIVEAWAY: 100 Hail State Sunglasses to First Fans in Attendance
· "2013 Greek Day at the Park"
· In-Game Twitter Trivia Giveaways
· Celebrity Home Run Derby Post-Game - MSU Coaches & Other Guests
· Barnes & Noble Softball Store on Site
· 2 Bulldog Coalition Points for Students
Sunday, April 14th - Ole Miss (1:00 p.m.)
· GIVEAWAY: 100 Pink "Nerf" Softballs to First Fans in Attendance
· "STRIKE OUT CANCER" Game
· Sunday Bingo with Giftcard Giveaways
· Foul Ball Frenzy - Receive a FREE Coupon When You Return a Foul Ball to the Marketing Table
· Bring 'em Homers - MSU Softball T-Shirts will Be Thrown into the Stands for Number of Runs Scored
· Load the Bases - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Grand Slam! - Four MSU Softball T-Shirts will be Thrown into the Stands
· MSU Double Play - Double Bubble Gum will be Thrown into the Stands
· MSU Hits a Double - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· MSU Strikes-Out Opponent - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE MSU Softball TShirt
· Bottom of 1st - Lead off Hit - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Top of 2nd - Sit 'em Down 1, 2, 3 - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Top of 3rd - Movie Trivia - One Lucky Fan will Receive TWO FREE Movie Tickets for Correctly Answering the Movie Trivia
· Bottom of 4th - Chicken Dance! - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business
· Top of 5th - Name That Tune - One Lucky Fan will Receive a $5 iTunes Giftcard for Correctly Naming the Song Being Played
· Bottom of 6th - Take the Plate with the Bulldogs - One Lucky Fan will Receive 1, 2 or 3 FREE Coupons for a Local Starkville Business Based on the Hit (Single, Double or Triple)
· Top of 7th - Player Trivia - One Lucky Fan will Receive a FREE Coupon for a Local Starkville Business for Correctly Answering the Player Trivia Question