STARKVILLE, Miss. – Alexis Silkwood, a freshman pitcher, was a four-year starter at Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, Ill. Silkwood is the state’s career record holder with 124 wins, 100 shutouts, 54 no-hitters and 1,907 strikeouts. She also owns Illinois single-season records in strikeouts (501/2011), shutouts (28/2012) and no-hitters (19/2012).
As a high school senior, Silkwood averaged 16.1 strikeouts per contest, won 30 games, posted a 0.44 earned-run average and registered 443 strikeouts in 208 innings. She guided the Explorers to the Illinois High School Association Class 3A state championship game and threw a state-record seven consecutive no-hitters during the campaign.
Silkwood spent some time with HailState.com this week as she prepares for her first spring season as a Bulldog.
Q: Being from Illinois, what brought you to Mississippi State?
A: I heard about Coach [Vann] Stuedeman and the program, and they were consistent with trying to get me to come visit. Looking at her background and her ability to really develop pitchers, I decided to take a visit here. Once I got on campus, it was like love at first sight. I fell in love with the campus, the coaching staff and the whole program. Everyone was just so friendly. It felt like home.
Q: Having worked with Coach Stuedeman for a few months now, have you been able to tell how much you have progressed as a pitcher?
A: Oh yes! She has put emphasis on getting better by taking everything to the next step. She has helped me take my good pitches into even better pitches. The pitches I originally struggled with, I can definitely see improvement on, especially with movement.
Q: What has your fall been like as far as being a part of the team?
A: It has been great because I got to see a little of what is going to happen in the spring with practice and other things. It’s not easy and can be strenuous, but every day you have to make sure you’re 100 percent prepared.
You cannot go to bed without the feeling that you really accomplished something that day. It just makes you get that extra fuel and fire for the next day. My body may be tired, but I just can’t get enough of it.
Q: How important is it as a freshman to be able to come in and have a fall season?
A: I think it helps to calm the nerves a little bit. Obviously it’s different than any previous team I’ve played on because it’s at the collegiate level.
It’s a good time to get your feet wet and show your teammates what you’re able to do as a player. That way in the spring, there are no pregame jitters and no worrying about having to prove yourself.
Q: What has it been like being a member of this team?
A: We’re just like a family. In the end all of us have each other’s backs. We have some great leaders, like Ashley [Phillips] and Rachel [Zdeb], and I look at them every single day and want to become the players they are.
When I’m an upperclassmen, I want to be like one of those girls. That’s how well they have opened their arms and brought me into the team.
Q: What has it been like being a student at Mississippi State?
A: It’s very important to stay on top of things as a student. It is tough, but I came in knowing I would have to study a lot. That has really helped and prepared me for when I know it’s time to hit the books. Sometimes you have to sacrifice TV, or spend a Friday night studying. It’s kind of like softball; you know it’s going to be harder you just have to prepare for it.
Q: Most athletes can be seen supporting other sports on campus. Is that what it’s like to be a student-athlete here?
A: It is so cool because athletes from other sports will come hang out with us. We see the football players at Templeton. Everybody is so friendly and wants to get to know us.
With athletes, it’s like a college within a college. It’s so awesome because other athletes know that we’re all in the same boat. You get to meet so many cool people from all around the world, and those friendships are always going to be there.
Q: What was the hardest part about moving here from Illinois?
A: The biggest transition would have to be changing my regimen. I had such a set regimen. Making changes to it wasn’t necessarily hard; it was just getting into the full swing of things. The workouts were a lot harder. I was away from home and didn’t know anyone down here. That was all easy to overcome, though, especially after the first week of practice.
Q: What’s your favorite place on campus?
A: Templeton. Is has excellent food, and that’s where I get almost all of my studying and homework done.
Q: Favorite place to eat in Starkville?
A: On campus, it would have to be Panda Express. I had never had it before coming here, and now I eat it all the time.
Q: Favorite class that you’ve had this fall?
A: English Comp II. I love to write and it’s challenging. It’s an accelerated class and it’s smaller in size, so that’s good because I like smaller classes.
Q: What are you looking forward to most for the spring softball season?
A: Getting to play against great competition. Competing against teams with All-American players and pitchers. Playing against those champions and Women’s College World Series teams, and just having the opportunity to be able to compete on that level. It’s living the dream.