Rivalry Matchup, 40th Anniversary Celebration Highlight State’s SEC Home Opener
Published 3:22 pm Friday, March 18, 2022
STARKVILLE – SEC softball returns to Nusz Park this weekend as Mississippi State hosts rival Ole Miss for a three-game set on March 18-20. The Bulldogs and Rebels will play at 6 p.m. and 12 p.m. CT on SEC Network+ on Friday and Sunday. Saturday’s game will be broadcast nationally on SEC Network at 4:30 p.m.
It’s a special weekend in Starkville as the Bulldogs are set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the program. Softball was elevated to a varsity sport in 1981, but it wasn’t until 1982 that the team began playing fast-pitch. This weekend is a fitting time to recognize that legacy as State’s first fast-pitch win came on March 19, 1982, and the Bulldogs defeated Ole Miss for their first SEC victory.
The 80s Ladies will be recognized on Saturday with Janice DeNomie Skinner and Vicki Bonar Earnshaw, two 80s-era pitchers, throwing out the first pitch. Skinner was the starting pitcher in MSU’s first game in 1982. Additionally, all ballpark music will be 1980s hits, including the walk-up songs of the 11 80s Ladies who have confirmed they will be in attendance. Fans in attendance will receive throwback logo slap bracelets as well.
Friday night is the first Scorecard Bingo night of the season, and Sunday will set the first of four All-Time Team Trading Card giveaways. This week’s set includes Courtney Bures (2005-08), Kim Davis (1985-86), Iyhia McMichael (2001-04), Karrie Rider (1997-00) and Kayla Winkfield (2013-16).
Admission to MSU softball games is always free.
Willis’ Weekly Honor: Annie Willis is the reigning SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week after throwing 8.0 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in two games at then-No. 4 Florida. Willis shut out the Gators, who entered with the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense, to win the Sunday game.
Keeping It Clean: MSU has just five errors over its last 53 innings (159 outs, 207 chances) with a .976 fielding percentage in that span.
Have Mercy: 10 of MSU’s 16 wins have come via run-rule, which is tied for the fourth-most in a season in school history and the most since 2018 (11).
Throwin’ It Back: MSU will celebrate its 40th anniversary and honor the 80s Ladies on Saturday. That day also marks 40 years to the day since State’s first fast-pitch victory in 1982. MSU’s first SEC victory came against Ole Miss in 1997 once the league began sponsoring the sport.
Historic Homers: Mia Davidson became the 13th player in NCAA softball history to hit 80 career homers, which is tied with LSU’s Eddy Furniss for the most in SEC baseball and softball history. Her career homers per game rate (0.345) is just a tick ahead of the NCAA softball career record holder, Stacey Nuveman (UCLA), who homered at a 0.341 rate.
Made You Look: This weekend featurs the SEC’s top two pitching staffs in looking strikeouts. The Bulldogs lead the SEC with 46, while Ole Miss is second with 44 batters frozen.
Lineup Log: Samantha Ricketts has settled into a pattern, using an identical lineup card in four straight games. It’s a break from the trend for Ricketts who has used 21 different batting orders and 16 defensive alignments this year.
Chloe’s Cannon: With the 10th outfield assist of her career last weekend at then-No. 4 Florida, Chloe Malau’ulu has climbed into a tie for fifth in MSU history.
About Ole Miss (21-4, 0-0 SEC)
Rankings: NFCA Coaches – NR | USA Softball – RV | D1Softball – NR | Softball America – NR
Head Coach: Jamie Trachsel | Record at OM: 57-26 (2nd Year) | Career Record: 403-210-1 (11th Year)
Batting Average: .311 | Runs Per Game: 5.5 | Hits Per Game: 7.7 | Slugging Pct: .467
ERA: 2.32 | K/7: 6.6 | K/BB Ratio: 3.6 | Opp. Batting Avg: .244
Overall: 43-33 | Home: 23-10 | Away: 18-17 | Neutral: 2-6
Current Streak: Won 1 | Last Meeting: May 12, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (MSU 3, OM 1)
About the Rebels
The Rebels’ 21-4 start to the season is tied for the best record through 25 games in program history. Ole Miss has won 12 straight games dating back to February 26th. Tate Whitley has assumed the role of leadoff batter for the Rebels and leads the nation with 41 hits. She is sixth in the country with a .506 batting average. Transfer Bre Roper has stepped into the Rebel lineup and is batting .417 with 30 hits and 15 walks. Roper has a hit in 13 of her last 17 games. In the circle, Ole Miss trails only MSU (46) in the SEC with 44 looking strikeouts.
Mississippi State will make a quick midweek road trip to Memphis on Wednesday, March 23 to meet the Tigers at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN+. The Bulldogs then return home for a Saturday doubleheader with Samford beginning at 1 p.m. Both games between the Bulldogs will air on SEC Network+.
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