She’s been Vanntastic, if you will. When Stuedeman arrived in Starkville, the record of the team she inherited was a bleak 24-32 and 10-18 in the SEC. She quickly led a turn around for the Bulldogs going 33-24 and 12-16 in the SEC. Under Stuedeman, MSU has never won fewer than 33 games, and as of right now (the season is still going on and I expect her to win a few more games and hopefully they won’t lose any more too.) she has a total win-loss record of 138-85.
Stuedeman has swept Ole Miss twice and has only lost one series to the Rebels. Her current record against them is 7-2. Against all Mississippi schools, she is an impressive 19-2. Vann Stuedeman, with the exception of losing the Ole Miss series this year, has run the state of Mississippi when it comes to collegiate softball. There is no other way to put it. In addition to making Mississippi our state, she has beat the #1 team in LSU in Starkville for the first victory over a #1 team here at home in program history as well as leading the 2014 team to consecutive series wins over top 5 teams in the nation in #2 Alabama and #4 Tennessee.
If you were to compare the current state of softball to some of the other sports on campus currently, it is impossible to say that they aren’t the most underrated and ultimately one of the best programs in Starkville. The state of baseball in Starkville right now is frankly less than stellar. The men’s basketball program has a lot of hype around it with Malik signing and Howland being hired but it remains to be seen how good they can be. The football team had a spectacular, historical season this past year, but we don’t know for certain if that success can be sustained. The women’s basketball team is the only other team on campus that can guarantee a level of consistency right now with Vann Stuedeman’s softball teams.
Stuedeman has made a quick culture change for the program. She developed a dominant group of pitchers her first few years and has made assistant coach hires of Tyler Bratton and most recently Samantha Ricketts to help cultivate and produce a better, well rounded team. Bratton and Ricketts have both made immediate impacts after being hired, helping Stuedeman to improve her team’s offense and fielding.
And with the success that MSU has had, more fans have been pouring in to witness the program Stuedeman has built. The softball team has set total season attendance records both last year and this year, with the new total record standing at 17,954 over 30 home games for an average of just under 600 people per game. (Of those 30 home games, the team won 20). The total capacity for the current stadium is 750. And this includes games such as the last home game of the season where there were over 1,300 people in attendance. And anyone who has been to a softball game can likely attest that everyone is packed in nice and cozy but is provided with a very entertaining and welcoming atmosphere from Leah Beasley and the MSU athletics marketing department. And starting next year that atmosphere will only get better in the AJ Pitts Tennis Centre and Softball Complex.
The program is quickly growing, developing, and becoming a very respectable and intimidating one. They are continuing to dominate the in state competition and are starting to consistently get crucial wins over the best programs in the nation. The team has been to 3 straight regionals and is on the path to make it to a 4th, which would tie the programs record for consecutive regional appearances. The fans are increasing their interest and in turn the university is showing more support for the program. Let’s hope that after this season (hopefully with it ending in Oklahoma City with a national title) Scott Stricklin will extend Stuedeman’s contract and give her a raise. Free softball is a great thing for the MSU fanbase and Starkville community. Exciting teams that we get to see for free are even better. Hopefully we can continue to see Vann Stuedeman in Starkville for years to come. And we should all be in support of a raise for an amazing woman, coach, and Bulldog. Hail State.
All statistics, win-loss records, and attendance figures are from Mississippi State University Athletics via www.hailstate.com.