The typewriter. Yes, the typewriter. Not a MacBook, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad or Android. Each time a key is struck on a typewriter, you can see a new mark imprinted on the blank sheet of paper.
Mississippi State senior outfielder Jessica Offutt has spent the first three years of her career like a typewriter – marking the transformation of the Bulldog softball program.
“We started it,” Offutt said. “We were the first group who really helped build all of this. We started it for everybody else who will be coming into the program. These little things make a huge difference.”
Offutt’s sophomore year, in 2012, coincided with the entrance of head coach Vann Stuedeman.
“It’s an entirely different mentality. That’s a huge part of it,” Offutt said of Stuedeman’s impact on the program. “From the get-go in 2012, the mentality was completely reversed. It was said that how we used to be was not how we were going to be now.”
Since Stuedeman’s arrival, Offutt and the Bulldogs have made consecutive NCAA Tournament trips and turned in back-to-back 33-win seasons. In the previous three seasons, from 2009-11, the program totaled 78 victories and made one tournament trip, in 2009.
“Sometimes I sit back and think about it and all I can say is, ‘Goodness,’” Offutt said looking back at her last two seasons. “What was once an idea is a reality now. The freshmen have done a great job of taking the Bulldog way and rolling with it. The program is on the rise now. It’s exciting to see it all.”
Mark left on team success – check.
Personally, Offutt has gone from starting three games and hitting .154 as a freshman to starting all but two contests and hitting .314, the second-best mark on the squad among regular starters, as a junior. The Madison, Ala., native was the first player in MSU history to have at least 20 successful stolen base attempts as she began her career a perfect 24-for-24.
Mark for individual success – check.
There’s also Offutt’s work in the classroom where she has made a lasting impression. The mechanical engineering major is a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete and a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member.
“The engineering program here is awesome,” Offutt said. “It’s difficult, but that’s what you need. They do a good job of covering everything and making sure you have the knowledge you need. They also give us so many tech elective classes so we can pick what route we want.”
She arrived at Mississippi State in part due to her interest in engineering as her grandfather, uncle and father are all in the engineering field. She has maintained the family trend.
The summer before her junior year she interned with Boeing, the largest aerospace company in the world and largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners, at the Huntsville Design Center designing frames for the 787-9 commercial jetliner and drawings for the KC-46A refueling tanker.
Offutt took the internship one step further in the summer of 2013, working for Boeing again. This time, she conducted stress analysis on a commercial spacecraft.
“I got really lucky with the kind of work I was able to do,” Offutt said of the Boeing experience. “I got on a program that was new, innovative and different. We were coming up with new ideas. My name will be on the final product. That’s really, really cool. I did something that was beneficial to the program and will be used later.”
Mark on the engineering world – check.
Offutt would love nothing more than to make one more mark on the Mississippi State softball program that combines her on- and off-the-field talents.
“Graduation normally falls on SEC Tournament weekend, but this time it’s on regional weekend. I want to host a regional,” Offutt said. “I want to walk across that stage with my other seniors and host a regional. That goes with my other goal of wanting to do something as a team that no other Mississippi State softball team has done before.”
Another mark – waiting for check.