Mississippi State fans get their first look at coach Vann Stuedeman and her bunch of Bulldogs this weekend as they open their home slate of games after opening the season with five-straight wins.
Mississippi State (5-0) scored 27 runs in its trip to the Madri Gras Invitational while allowing just 10 runs over the four games. Despite the run disparity, the Bulldogs had three come from behind victories, two in the later innings, including the season opener against South Alabama.
“I was extremely pleased. I never thought for one second that we weren’t going to win that game,” said Stuedeman who is the first coach in MSU history to win the first four games of the season. “The girls had 100 percent energy and focus in every moment. They were focused in from first pitch to last pitch.”
Stuedeman has stressed each day to her young team to ‘live in the moment’ and that’s something the Bulldogs took to heart.
“It was definitely fun to go out and have two come from behind victories," Stuedeman said. "We’ve been talking a lot about being competitors and the game is not over until it is over. I think they are totally expecting excellence from themselves more than they had in the past. There are tons of things to work on, but obviously, there are a lot of things to be proud of over the weekend.”
At the plate, Jassica Offutt paced the Bulldogs with six hits and four RBI, however Brittany Bell led in productivity with five RBI on five hits with just 10 at-bats. State also hit four home runs, two from Jessica Cooley and one from both Bell (grand slam in season opener) and Sam Lenahan.
From the circle, Kylie Vry, who had a 0.88 earned run average, picked up a pair of wins allowing two runs on nine hits while striking out 16 batters. Stephanie Becker and Lindsey Dunlap picked up the other wins over the weekend for the Bulldogs. As a staff, State turned in a 1.75 ERA for the weekend much improved over the school-high 4.90 ERA of a season ago.
Like most teams, MSU had a growing up moment over the weekend, one that its coach hopes sticks with them the rest of the season.
“I think Sunday was (when they got it)," Stuedeman said. "I think they have bought in. I think they are totally believing, it is just that actually believing and seeing it work are different things.
“Sunday, we came out a little flat and we had a moment in the game where we were trying to generate energy from somewhere and we did. We generated some energy and put a run on the board. But we go out on defense and we gave that run immediately back so we had another conversation about being in the moment, giving everything you have right now. We were able to come out with an eight-run inning and that happened to be enough.”
State picked up their fifth win of the season on Tuesday when it defeated Samford 6-3, thanks in large part to Bell who homered twice giving her three home runs for the season.
This weekend Mississippi State will host SIU-Edwardsville (2-2) and Mississippi Valley State for the annual Bulldog Round-Robin Tournament. State plays its home opener today at 5 p.m. against SIU-Edwardsville, before playing a doubleheader against Mississippi Valley State and SIU-Edwardsville Saturday starting at 3 p.m. MSU wraps up its home-opening weekend Sunday against the Devilettes of MVSU at 1 p.m.