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Bound for Oregon Bulldogs make return to NCAA Softball Tournament

May 13, 2012

Mississippi State softball supporters and fans gathered for the NCAA Selection Show viewing Sunday night. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman always has wanted to be able to visit Oregon.

She couldn't think of a better time to fulfill that desire than during the NCAA Softball Tournament.

The Bulldogs learned Sunday night that they will be making the trip to Eugene, Ore., in the tournament and the first round opponent will be Brigham Young on Thursday.

"I've always wanted to go," Stuedeman said. "I've been to Washington, but I've never been to Oregon. I'm super proud of these girls. They've earned it and worked hard. I told them all year that you earn what you get and they earned this trip. We're going to get out there, go to work and keep earning it."

Along with MSU and BYU, the other two teams in the four-team regional field are host Oregon and Portland State.

It is the ninth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bulldogs and first since 2009.

Making the postseason was something Stuedeman made a goal when she was hired at MSU last year.

"I knew it would be a challenge, but when we got in there (Sunday), I thanked every one of them for buying in, believing in one another and in us as a coaching staff," Stuedeman said. "They bought in and made it happen."

The Bulldogs take a 33-22 record into the SEC Tournament after losing in the first round to Alabama 5-2 last Thursday.

Since that loss, Stuedeman said the players have been in the weight room, taking cuts in the batting cage and gaining confidence for the NCAA Tournament.

"At this point, everyone is fired up and everyone is motivated," Stuedeman said.

It was obvious that MSU fans and supporters were feeling that same way Sunday night.

The field was announced Sunday night by ESPNU. An overflow crowd the announcement at a selection show party at Buffalo Wild Wings. Among those showing support were MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin, senior associate athletic director Ann Carr and student association president Rhett Hobart.

"When I pulled into the parking lot, the cars were packed and I was so fired up for our girls," Stuedeman said. "They worked so hard for this moment."

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