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Mississippi State Softball back in the NCAA Tournament

Mississippi State softball is back in the postseason. After going 33-18 during the regular season and the SEC Tournament, including a 12-12 conference record that was the program’s best since 2007, the Bulldogs are NCAA Tournament bound.

Mississippi State heads to the Bay Area for the postseason. The Bulldogs will be the second seed in the Palo Alto Regional at Stanford. They open NCAA Tournament play against three-seed Cal State Fullerton. The other opening match in Palo Alto will host Stanford, the #8 national seed, against 4-seed St. Mary’s.

State’s game with Cal State Fullerton is scheduled for Friday, May 17 at 6:30 PM CT. The film can only be viewed on ESPN+. It will be the second meeting between the two this season. State defeated Fullerton 4-2 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in February.

This season has been a fantastic rebound for the program under fifth-year HC Samantha Ricketts. After making their first Super Regional appearance in school history in 2022, the Bulldogs had a disappointing 2023 season. They went 28-25 with just seven SEC wins and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

After last season’s struggles, expectations were not high for Sam Ricketts’ program. MSU was picked dead last in the SEC entering the year, and no Bulldogs were picked as preseason All-SEC selections.

State dramatically outperformed those low expectations, finishing 6th in the league for their best conference finish since 2008. Three Bulldogs were named to the SEC’s all-conference teams, including first teamer Madisyn Kennedy. State is ranked nationally as a consensus Top-20 team.

Now they will look to continue exceeding preseason expectations in the postseason. Two years ago, the Bulldogs defied the odds by becoming the first team in NCAA Softball Tournament history to eliminate a No. 2 national seed in regional play, and they did so by winning four straight games while on the brink of elimination.

Can they hit the road again and return to the Super Regionals? I wouldn’t put it past them. State has already been competitive this season with several strong teams. They have the qualities of a team that can make a lot of noise during the tournament.