A few days ago I commented in another story that we need to support our softball program as we never have before and pay the leaders of the softball program in a way that they know we want them to exceed in the SEC and Nationally as we never have before. I didn’t fully expect the change in leadership that has come but I did think it would happen soon if the program did not start to grow at a faster rate. Additionally our most intense rival has been outperforming us over the last three years.
Our softball program began in 1982 which means it is still relatively new compared to baseball. We played as an Independent from 1982 through 1986. Lynn Keiser (8-31) coached the first two years to begin the program followed by Vivian Langley (66-45) for three years. The program was suspended in 1987 until Kathy Arendsen (219-130) then took over as SEC play began in 1997. She led the program to it’s highest ever finish (3rd) in the SEC Tournament in 2001. Coach Arendsen led the program to the only two winning years in SEC play (2000-2001) we have ever had. She was replaced by a coach many will remember, Jay Miller (295-253) who came from Missouri and led the program until Coach Vann Stuedeman (275-188) (69-127 SEC) took over in 2012. Stuedeman had the ladies in the NCAA Tournament in all but one year of her tenure and oversaw the opening of Nusz Park (2016) for our ladies to play home games in.
Now we began a new era in Miss. State Softball. Samantha Ricketts has been promoted to our new head coach. She is an Oklahoma graduate and has been with our program for five years now. She has been a major factor in the ladies having an explosive offense and multiple players slugging 20 homeruns this past season. She, along with Coach Tyler Bratton are dynamic excellent recruiters. Ricketts has what I believe is the highest ranked ever (7th NCAA) signee class coming in and is building the next class already which is currently ranked 12th for 2020.
Ladies and gentlemen it is time for our softball program to really grow. Just being in the NCAA playoff field is not enough. It is time for this program to compete for SEC Championships, host regionals, super-regionals and advance to the Women’s College World Series. This will happen through strong recruiting and intense fan support which would build an atmosphere like we have at “The Dude”.
All of our athletic programs are competing at high levels including tennis, golf, track and field. The only sport we have not achieved a level at which we compete for a championship is softball. I believe Coach Ricketts can and will lead us there. It will happen through strong recruiting, motivating players, teaching advanced techniques and finally through intense loyal fan support. All alumni and students need to get behind this program and support it like we do our other sports both men and women. Why don’t we work to establish an atmosphere for softball that is comparable to baseball, basketball and football? Doesn’t softball deserve the passion and love other programs enjoy? Can we build softball to the point that we have the respect and admiration of others in the SEC and nationally. I think we can if we make a commitment to it.
It is time to grow our softball program! Why don’t we all do our part to build it to a championship level? Encourage Coach Ricketts to build a legacy at Miss. State and take us to the mountain tops. Support this program in every way you possibly can. Softball is part of the Bulldog Family too!