STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – With the 2019 softball season on the horizon, Mississippi State will enter opening weekend with a spot secured in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Vann Stuedeman’s Bulldogs checked in at No. 24 in the publication’s preseason poll and was one of 11 Southeastern Conference squads to earn a preseason ranking. MSU also received votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Preseason Poll that was released Tuesday.
Tuesday’s announcement marks the first time that Mississippi State earned a preseason ranking since the Bulldogs kicked off the 2001 season at No. 23 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Coming off one of the program’s most successful seasons under Stuedeman, MSU posted a 38-23 overall record last season to punch a ticket to the Tucson Regional, the program’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance over the last seven seasons.
State returns 16 letterwinners from the 2018 squad, which is led by sophomore catcher/third baseman Mia Davidson, who was selected to the 2019 All-SEC Preseason Team earlier this month.
The reigning SEC Freshman of the Year, Davidson ranked second in the SEC and 11th in the nation with 19 home runs over her debut season, a mark that set MSU’s freshman and single-season records.
She also ranked second in the conference in slugging percentage (.762) and total bases (144), seventh in runs scored (50), 10th in hits (70), 11th in batting average (.370) and doubles (13) and 12th in runs batted in (48). Behind the plate, Davidson caught 11 would-be base stealers, the fifth most in the conference.
MSU begins its 2019 campaign by hosting the Bulldog Kickoff Classic at Nusz Park over Feb. 8-10. The Bulldogs open the three-day tournament on Friday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. versus Middle Tennessee.