Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has said it. Men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury has mentioned it. Baseball coach John Cohen has most certainly been overheard saying it.
Now heading into its opening weekend of the 2012 season, softball coach Vann Stuedeman is going to send the message that success in competition is all about the Bulldogs, not the opposition.
Sure, there are things you can do to have your team prepared for the opposition, but that’s not what she’s talking about. It is all the little things. The focus, determination, drive, and attention to detail, that’s the difference between winning and losing at the highest level of college athletics.
“We are going in with high expectations of ourselves to compete in that moment, win each moment,” Stuedeman said. “We focus on the importance of winning this moment, winning right now. The expectation is that I’m going to win this next pitch. If we don’t … then it is shocking to us.”
Stuedeman takes over a team that was 10-18 in Southeastern Conference play and just 24-32 overall last season. While the Bulldogs were young a season ago, it was much more of a mindset that limited the squad, not talent.
“We want to be more aggressive," Stuedeman said. "We are a gritty team. We are feisty. We are going to fight and I love that kind of mentality. They want to get dirty. With that kind of effort and heart … that will take you a long way.”
Part of being more aggressive in the eyes of State’s first year head coach is staying in the moment. Dominating the task at hand.
“It is like when you’re driving at night, you can only see 200 feet in front of you," Stuedeman said. "While you may have a long drive, you’re only driving 200 feet at a time because that’s all you can see. We are taking a '200-feet at a time' approach and hopefully we will take care of the moment and at the end of the game, hopefully the scoreboard is in our favor, if it is not, we tip our hat to our opponent and we move forward and get back to work.
“We want to release the immediate past and move right into the moment. We’ve been doing a lot of practicing that skill. It is new and it will be something that we continue. It isn’t something they are used to so I’m sure it will take a minute for it to really be beneficial for us.”
The Bulldogs will take the field for the first time this season today in the first of four games they’ll play as part of the Mardi Gras Invitational in Mobile, Ala.
Over the weekend, MSU squares off against South Alabama, Lipscomb, Jacksonville State, and Memphis.
The opener against South Alabama begins at 6 p.m.