STARKVILLE, Miss. - Riding its longest winning streak against non-conference foes since February 2009, the Mississippi State softball team (19-18) will travel to the Jackson area Wednesday to battle Southern Miss (11-20) as part of the annual M&F Fastpitch Classic. The 6:30 p.m. contest, which costs $6 to attend, will take place at Freedom Ridge Park, located at 235 W. School St. in Ridgeland, Miss.
"We cannot wait to see Freedom Ridge Park wrapped in maroon and white," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "Any chance we get to play a game in our state, we cherish it because of the privileged opportunity it gives us to meet our fans that we play hard for each and every day."
Winning their ninth-consecutive game against a non-conference opponent will be no easy task for the Bulldogs, who begin a two-week stretch where eight of their next nine games come away from the friendly confines of the MSU Softball Stadium. The last time the two teams met was on Oct. 22, 2011, when the Maroon and White swept a fall exhibition doubleheader against the Golden Eagles by scores of 4-0 and 3-2. All-time against their in-state rival, the Bulldogs own a commanding 30-12 advantage, including a 6-3 triumph at the 2004 M&F Fastpitch Classic in Ridgeland on April 6, 2004.
A perfect 5-0 against non-league opponents in midweek games this season, MSU is paced by redshirt senior Brittany Bell, who is seventh nationally with a .568 on-base percentage. In addition to her .568 clip, Bell leads the Southeastern Conference with a .798 slugging percentage and anchors the MSU squad with a team-best .404 batting average. Through 37 games this season, the Brandon, Fla., native has reached base safely 34 times.
Following the game, Starkville's team will sign autographs and 2012 team posters for all children in attendance. Upon returning to campus, the team will embark on an eight-hour journey to take on Arkansas in a Good Friday doubleheader on April 6 starting at 3 p.m. The two squads wrap up the SEC series with a noon matchup on Saturday, April 7.
For more information regarding MSU softball, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB.