STARKVILLE, Miss. – Katie Anne Bailey, a freshman utility player was a four-year starter at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. She helped the Jaguars to the state championship her first three years and to a runner-up finish as a senior. Bailey was a three-time all-state selection and played for Starkville native Kayla Watkins at Madison Central.
Bailey and the MSU softball team opens its fall season Sunday with a 2 p.m. CT game at Ridgeland High School against East Mississippi Community College.
Bailey spent some time with HailState.com this week as she prepares for her first season as a Bulldog.
Q: You are playing your first game Sunday at Ridgeland High School, which is very close to your hometown. How excited are you?
A; “I went to Madison Central High School, but Ridgeland High School was still literally three minutes away from our school and about four minutes from my house.
“It’s really cool that my first college game is in my hometown. And then I get to go to my house and eat dinner with my family and see my dogs! I’m already pumped up for the start of the season, but that makes it extra exciting.”
Q: Is it fun to be able to share your family with your MSU Softball family?
A: “I’m a huge family person, but I always thought I would go out of state for college so I could branch out and be on my own. Coming to MSU was the best decision I could’ve made. It’s still close enough to where I can go home when I need some family time, but I’ve still got that second family back at school.
“I committed early in my junior year, so I had a lot of time to connect with the coaches before I even got here. I came up here for a lot of weekends last year just to watch the girls, so I came up here already pretty comfortable. My family loves everything about it, so it’s pretty awesome.”
Q: What drew you to the coaching staff at MSU?
A: “[Head coach] Vann [Stuedeman] is awesome. She has the personality of someone you want to play for. She gives you drive and motivation and makes you want to be out there playing. You can’t do anything but respect her because she has so much knowledge about the game and cares about the game so much.
“She is really invested and fully believes in us. I saw that from the beginning. With what she is doing, she can’t do anything but bring this program up.”
Q: How did your parents impact your college choice?
A: “I’ve always valued my dad’s opinion. After about my third visit here, I looked at my dad and we both knew that there was no question that I was going to be a Bulldog.
"My mom and several other family members went to Ole Miss and were always big fans of Ole Miss, but after I committed here, they’ve completely changed to MSU fans. It’s Maroon and White and ‘Hail State’ all the time. We had to completely restock our closets!”
Q: In a non-softball sense, what is being a student at MSU like?
A: “For every freshman, you have to figure out a new routine and a new way to do things. We don’t have as much free time as other students do, so it’s almost easier to find a routine.
“When we wake up, we either have early workouts or an early class. When class is done, we have workouts that afternoon and study hall that night. School is something you have to work at, but we have many academic aids and opportunities offered to us. We are very blessed with the opportunities we have.”
Q: What is it like to attend Bulldog football games and other events as an MSU student?
A: “It’s amazing. I remember walking around at our first home game and just being so excited that this was officially our team. We can say ‘we’, we can say ‘us’ when we’re talking about the football team because we get to be part of the experience.
“Those are our friends down there on the field playing. You get to walk around with your head held high. You get to share an athlete bond with them, and it’s awesome.”
Q: What is the story behind the softball-themed cowbells that you are responsible for?
A: “Most people don’t know the story behind cowbells. They just know that Mississippi State fans ring them. Because it’s bad luck to buy your first cowbell, I thought it would be a good idea to give the team cowbells as a gift.
“I got the idea to paint them yellow with red seams like a softball. One night at dinner, I told everyone the story behind the cowbell and gave them the gifts and encouraged them to ring them like crazy at games. It gives me chills to think about it because we have a very special group at games just because of those cowbells.”