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Mississippi State Earns Highest Preseason Ranking In Program History

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s softball program has been tabbed the No. 20 team in the nation in the NFCA Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Bulldogs also checked in at No. 22 in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll on Tuesday.

Last week, D1Softball.com gave MSU the No. 15 spot in its preseason rankings. Softball America has not yet released its ranking.

“We are thankful for the preseason recognition as a testament to the hard work of our program over the past year,” head coach Samantha Ricketts said. “We are eager to get back on the field together and continuing to work together toward our goals and are appreciative of the opportunity.”

State has entered the season as a ranked team just once in its history when the NFCA tabbed MSU the No. 23 team in the country ahead of the 2001 campaign.

The Bulldogs’ highest ranking in the NFCA poll came in Week 3 of the 2008 season, when MSU reached No. 15 with a 13-2 record. State’ best showing in the USA Softball/ESPN poll also came in the 2008 season when the Bulldogs reached No. 15 twice in Week 2 and Week 5.

MSU finished the shortened 2020 season with a 25-3 record and the nation’s second-longest active win streak. State was No. 20 in the final NFCA and USA Softball/ESPN polls, its highest final ranking in either poll.

In her first season leading the program, Ricketts became the fastest Bulldog coach to win 20 games, the first to see her team nationally ranked in her first year and the first first-year head coach to lead the country in wins since at least 1989.

The Bulldogs return all but three members of last year’s roster, with four newcomers joining the program. All-Americans Fa Leilua and Mia Davidson lead the way offensively. The duo is among a dozen active players in the NCAA who can boast 50 or more career home runs.

Seniors Emily Williams and Annie Willis pace the team in the circle. Williams ranked third nationally in ERA (0.46) and led the country in hits per seven innings (2.30) in 2020, while Willis ranked eighth in ERA (0.80) and seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.75).

For more information on the Bulldog softball program, follow on TwitterFacebook and Instagram by searching “HailStateSB.”

USA Today/NFCA Coaches’ Poll

  1. UCLA (32)
  2. Washington
  3. Arizona
  4. Oklahoma
  5. LSU
  6. Texas
  7. Florida
  8. Alabama
  9. Louisiana
  10. Oregon
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. Florida State
  13. Kentucky
  14. Georgia
  15. Virginia Tech
  16. Arizona State
  17. Michigan
  18. Arkansas
  19. South Carolina
  20. Mississippi State
  21. UCF
  22. Baylor
  23. Missouri
  24. Minnesota
  25. Duke

 

USA Softball/ESPN.com Poll

  1. UCLA (19)
  2. Washington (1)
  3. Arizona
  4. Oklahoma
  5. LSU
  6. Florida
  7. Texas
  8. Alabama
  9. Louisiana
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Oregon
  12. Florida State
  13. Kentucky
  14. Georgia
  15. Arizona State
  16. Virginia Tech
  17. Michigan
  18. Baylor
  19. South Carolina
  20. Minnesota
  21. Arkansas
  22. Mississippi State
  23. Tennessee
  24. Missouri
  25. UCF