What happened this weekend?
Vann Stuedeman and the Mississippi State softball team went down to College Station over the weekend and had to deal with a Texas A&M team that was ranked 5th in the nation along with some inclement weather. MSU went 1-2 against the Aggies this weekend, but things looked promising at times for MSU.
Let’s start with negative stuff for once, Ethan. What didn’t go well for Mississippi State this weekend?
Well, the Bulldogs did drop two games over the weekend. And that’s not ideal. But it’s hard to take a series from any team ranked in the top 5, especially in their place. And so, with context, it’s hard to be anything more than just slightly disappointed about the series loss.
No, losses aren’t fun. That’s the opposite of what you want to do in sports. And I’m sure the softball team knows that more than anyone, especially given how the team struggled against top teams in the SEC a year ago. But they showed potential this weekend.
So, despite dropping the series, what went well for MSU?
The Bulldogs showed a lot of potential this weekend. They tallied 14 hits on Friday against a top tier pitching staff in the nation and dominated the series opener at the plate. Along with that, Regan Green was dominant from the circle.
As a whole, the pitching performed well all weekend. Things weren’t so great in the second game where Silkwood gave up 5 runs to Texas A&M, but only 1 of those runs were earned.
Wait. Hey. Rewind a bit. You’ve mentioned last season a bit. What does last year have to do with anything?
The Bulldogs went a total of 3-21 in the SEC last year after a strong start in non-conference play. MSU got off to a similarly impressive start to the season this year, but the biggest difference between the two seasons so far is the level of experience.
Mississippi State was incredibly young a season ago, relying heavily upon freshmen and sophomores while also only having two seniors on the team. This year, there’s roughly a 50/50 split between freshmen and sophomores and then juniors and seniors.
So, when they ran into the buzzsaw that was the SEC schedule, they understandably crumbled a bit. There was a lot of pressure on some very young players after they had a hot start to the season.
You’re saying last year’s early success was fool’s gold?
I mean, more or less, sure. One could call it that. And since I’m the one that typed that sentence and posed that question from a different point of view to make it seem like a conversation, I guess I would be the one to call it that.
Does that mean this year’s early success is fool’s gold?
It’s too early to tell. And the Bulldogs are sitting at 20-5 right now. Stuedeman’s team has a lot to be proud of so far. And they should be able to learn from the adversity they faced last year.
The biggest thing here is finding a way to win these series that they shouldn’t win on paper.
Mississippi State racked up 13 hits against one of the best pitchers in the nation on Friday night, but they were held to a total of 6 hits in the other two games. I have no doubts that this team is better than the one we saw a year ago, but they’ll need to be more consistent if they want to be even in the middle of the pack in the SEC this year.
What’s next for State?
They’re remaining on the road for a little while longer, heading up to take on Central Arkansas. After that, they come home and get to host Alabama, a team that made a run to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series last year.