The Mississippi State softball program is headed to the NCAA Tournament for its fifth consecutive appearance, opening as the No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional.
The Bulldogs (33-24, 10-14 SEC) will open the double-elimination regional at 5 p.m. Friday, May 20, against South Florida at Joanne Graf Field. The Tallahassee Regional features host Florida State, which earned the No. 2 national seed, and Howard.
“We are excited to be back in the postseason and headed to Tallahassee,” MSU coach Samantha Ricketts said. “It’s another quality regional with Florida State, South Florida and Howard. I’m really excited to see the team down there in this environment. It’s something we’ve been working toward all year long and why we played such a tough schedule.
“I think we’re battle-tested and ready to go. We’re ready for the opportunity to go out and compete.”
Florida State brings a 52-5 record to the tournament. Although the Bulldogs and Seminoles have not met since 2013, they have played 14 times with each team winning seven games. The teams are 3-3 in games played in Tallahassee.
South Florida (44-14) is another opponent that Mississippi State has not seen in a few years. In their last meeting, the Bulls edged the Bulldogs 1-0 in 2012. Overall, USF owns a 3-2 series lead.
Howard (31-22), the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, has never played Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs’ first game of the regional will be aired nationally on ESPNU and is also available online through WatchESPN or the ESPN app. Television assignments for the remaining games of the regional will be announced later this week.
The winner of the Tallahassee Regional will advance to the Super Regionals to face the winner of the Columbia Regional, hosted by No. 15 Missouri. Also competing in the Columbia Regional are Arizona, Illinois and Missouri State.
The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back extra-inning games in the SEC Tournament against No. 18 LSU and No. 10 Tennessee. MSU finished the season ranked No. 30 in the NCAA RPI. The Bulldogs played the fourth-toughest schedule in the nation.
State is making its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance and has played in nine of the past 10 tournaments. All 17 appearances have come since 2000. MSU has won at least one regional game in six of its past seven tournament appearances and is aiming to make its first NCAA Super Regional appearance.
Davidson, Malau’ulu earn SEC honors
Mississippi State’s Mia Davidson and Chloe Malau’ulu earned All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches the conference office announced on Friday.
For Davidson, it was her third career first-team selection, while Malau’ulu was named to the second team for the first time.
“I’m really proud of Mia and Chloe for this accomplishment and for how they have represented MSU all year long,” Ricketts said. “They are two of our hardest workers on and off the field, and this recognition is a testament to the consistency, leadership and team-first attitude they both have to go along with the solid numbers they put up during our tough SEC schedule.”
Davidson is the SEC’s all-time home run leader with 90, which ranks fifth in NCAA history. Her .897 slugging percentage is second in the SEC and would break her own MSU single season record set in 2019. She leads the SEC with 21 homers and had the highest on-base percentage (.580) in the conference in league play.
She has also been a defensive force behind the plate. At the SEC Tournament, she broke the MSU career record for combined caught stealings and runners picked off with her 55th (43 CS, 12 PO). She was tied for the SEC lead with five runners caught stealing in conference play.
Malau’ulu was tied for third in the conference with eight doubles in league play. Her .352 batting average led the Bulldogs in SEC play, and her .535 slugging percentage and .465 on-base percentage were second only to Davidson.
On the defense, Malau’ulu threw out five runners from the outfield and ranks fifth in MSU history with 13 career outfield assists.
NCAA Softball Tallahassee Regional
Friday, May 20
Game 1: South Florida vs. Mississippi State, 5 p.m.
Game 2: Florida State vs. Howard, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 21
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, noon
Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary, 5:30 p.m.