Off to the second best start in program history, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will travel to Gulfport to play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the first Mississippi Gulf Coast Softball Classic two wins short of tying the best start for the softball team.
In Friday's action, the Bulldogs open up play against the UTSA Roadrunners in Gulfport at 2 pm, and they return to the diamond at 8 to face No. 12 Baylor. Should the Bulldogs defeat UTSA, the matchup against the Baylor would give Mississippi State a chance for a 16th consecutive win to open the season and tie the mark set by the 2006 softball team.
Bulldogs' senior Heidi Shape (listen to full interview from Bulldog Sports Radio here) said the team looked forward to the challenge of playing a top-15 foe.
"We play against ourselves and the game, but obviously when you play an opponent like that, the hype level is higher," Shape said. "It's exciting, we're ready to go and we're ready to take on UTSA, but obviously we want to take Baylor on too and come out on top."
Shape also said that playing such a variety of foes can help the team prepare for what they hope will be a third postseason birth in as many years.
"It's awesome playing against this variety of opponents because it prepares you for post-season," said Shape. "We know our opponents in conference, but when you go to post-season, you're going against teams you don't know and have never played before. This prepares you, and it is only going to make us better playing such high-level teams."
For Mississippi State fans, the trip to the Coast brings the Maroon and White closer to home, something that Coach Vann Stuedeman finds important.
"I love being able to go south so all the Bulldog fans in the southern part of the state can come see us play without having to drive so far," said Stuedeman.
After play wraps up Friday, the Bulldogs return to action Saturday at noon against Memphis, and they face Nicholls State at 3. The weekend wraps up Sunday with a 10 am matchup versus Ohio and a 1 pm tilt against Texas State.