STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State softball head coach Vann Stuedeman announced the signing of Alabama prep star Holly Ward Wednesday afternoon. Ward, the starting pitcher for Haleyville High School since her seventh-grade year, helped the program to its second-straight Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A state championship last spring. The right-hander is the first member of the 2014 signing class.
“Holly was one of our first really, really hard gets,” Stuedeman said. “We were really fighting for her and for her to say yes. We really felt like we had done something big when she said yes.
“She’s been so invested in the program already. She comes over for football games and for all our softball events. She’s a Bulldog. She has some really great and unique pitches. She’s a great pitcher.”
Ward is the two-time defending state tournament most valuable player and a two-time member of the all-tournament team. Last spring as a junior, she earned a spot on the 2013 Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) Super All-State Team and was the only non-senior of the 10-member squad after going 27-9 with a 0.89 earned-run average in 250.2 innings.
"Mississippi State reminded me of home," Ward said on why she chose to become a Bulldog. "It is a small, family environment with a gorgeous campus and great coaches.”
A First-Team ASWA All-State selection as a sophomore and junior after earning an honorable mention nod as a freshman, Ward also earned 2013 MaxPreps First Team Medium Schools All-America honors. She proved to be a dual threat, batting .419 with 67 hits, 50 runs batted in, 27 doubles and five home runs during junior year while also fanning 310 batters from the pitching circle.
During the state title run, she threw three shutouts, allowed just 21 hits, surrendered five runs, struck out 30 and walked just two. After the season, Ward was selected to the 2013 North-South All-Star Softball Team and played for the North squad, combining to pitch 5.2 innings without allowing a hit in the doubleheader versus the South.
Ward, who will make her Bulldog debut in the 2014-15 season, has gained additional softball experience with the Tennessee Fury, NC Lady Lightning and Birmingham Mustangs travel softball teams. As a member of the Fury, she helped the team to a third-place finish as the 2013 ASA 16U Nationals. Ward also claimed the 2012 Denver Sparkler Tournament title as a member of the Fury. While with the Mustangs, finished fourth at the 2011 ASA 14U nationals after claiming the state ASA title. Ward also claimed the 2011 Firecracker Tournament title in Denver as a Mustang.
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