STARKVILLE, Miss. – Amanda Ivy, a freshman utility player, was a four-year starter at South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss. In the spring of 2012, Ivy helped lead SPHS to a district championship and North State runner-up honors, batting .321 with 27 hits and 32 runs scored. She played summer travel softball for the Blue Angels Gold, coached by Rose Kalisak.
This weekend, Ivy and her Bulldog teammates will be in the Junction signing autographs and giving a pitching expo Saturday starting at approximately 4:45 p.m. CT prior to the football game against Bowling Green. Sunday, the team will play its first fall home games of the year with a 1 p.m. CT doubleheader against Shorter.
Ivy spent some time with HailState.com this week as she prepares for her first season as a Bulldog.
Q: As a Mississippi native, was Mississippi State the place you always wanted to go?
A: It has actually been my dream to come here to play at Mississippi State. I’ve always been in competitive leagues to get the coaches before [head coach] Vann [Stuedeman] and her staff to come watch me, and they did. I was being recruited by that staff. Then Vann, [Beth] Mullins and [Alan] Reach got here and I was thinking my shot would be gone since they brought in new coaches. But my coaches got a hold of the new staff to come out and watch me play and that’s how I got here.
Q: What made Mississippi State so appealing to you?
A: I had always seen them play and they always made me feel welcomed at every camp. I went to so many softball games and camps and football games growing up.
Q: Now that you’re here on the other side of the fence, what has it been like playing here?
A: It has been tough, but we’ve been putting forth a lot of effort.
Q: What’s it like playing for this coaching staff?
A: I was really close with my high school coach and when I came here I was thinking it’s a new coach for me and I’ve got to get to know her. I love playing for her [Vann], though. Even when she does yell at me, I know it’s because she cares.
We have a great coaching staff here. We’re very blessed to have a coaching staff like them.
Q: What is it like to have a full-time strength coach for your team like Alicia Catlette?
A: She motivates me more than anybody here. She makes everything we do into a competition, but she also makes it fun. She will be hard on us, but it’s to make us better.
Q: What was it like last Sunday playing in that first fall game?
A: I was nervous. She put me out there with A.O. [senior pitcher Alison Owen] for my first time to catch and I was really nervous. After the first few pitches I got the hang of it. My first at-bat I got a base hit and scored. It felt good afterwards.
Q: When you look at where you are now as opposed to where you were before coming here, can you tell that you’re a better softball player?
A: Oh, yes! I’m in so much better physical shape. At first I didn’t like [my new approach at the plate], but I’ve gotten used to it and worked on it. I actually like it better than my old approach now.
Q: What’s it like to be a student at Mississippi State?
A: It’s tough, but the tutors are a lot of help. Having to do study hall hours helps, too. You get a lot more accomplished than you realize. As a softball player you don’t have a lot of time. Study hours are really good.
Q: What’s your favorite place on campus?
A: Other than the softball field, probably the Sanderson Center because of the pool or Perry Cafeteria because of the food.
Q: What’s the best part about being a student-athlete for Mississippi State?
A: Showing off Mississippi. Being a Mississippi kid and coming to Mississippi State, I’m just glad to be here. I’m glad I caught the coaches’ attention and was able to come here.
Q: Is there a strong sense of pride with being a Mississippi kid and playing here at Mississippi State?
A: Yeah, definitely. I like trying to encourage people, especially other in-state high school students. It’s hard work to get here, but I did it and I can tell them to just work hard and tough it out and they can get here, too.
Q: What’s the biggest goal you have for this season?
A: I would like for us as a team to make it to super regionals. For me, it’s to cheer the team on and support the team however I can. Just to be willing to contribute and play wherever I need to play.