MSU media relations

Stuedeman Readies for New Venue

Vann Stuedeman came to Mississippi State to bring the softball program to new heights. Sure the Bulldogs had been to the NCAA tournament several times, but the Vestavia Hills, Alabama native had higher hopes. With a program best four straight NCAA berths under her belt, the Bulldogs head coach is eager to take the next step.

"I came here to win a National Championship," Stuedeman said of Starkville, Mississippi. 

In her four years at the helm of the Bulldog program, Studeman has led the Maroon and White into the post season every year. While batting a crisp 1.000 in her four seasons, the woman known for her gregarious and sometimes loud personality. is looking for more than just singles when it comes to annual post season wins. 

"There are steps in every process," Stuedeman said. "You have to hit every stair to get up the stairwell. Every stair is part of the process.

"We've had four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and that's only the second time that's been done in the twenty years of Mississippi State softball. I am happy with our progress and I am happy with all of the players who have touched every step in the four years that I have been here. 

"With that said, it is time for us to take the next step. I want to win a National Championship. We're hosting the SEC tournament this year, so it would be so nice to just stay here in Starkville and then host that first round of regionals and get into a Super Regional.

"You just never know what is going to happen once you get to that point. Anything is possible and if you get hot at the right time, you find yourself in Oklahoma City."

The Bulldogs had their share of hot streaks last season and played as well as anyone in the country during those spans. Heading into her fifth campaign as the Bulldog softball boss, Stuedeman hopes to see her team playing their best ball when it matters most.

"We've had some two week stretches in the middle of our season that were great," Stuedeman said. "Had we had those stretches in the regionals and Super regionals, we would have been sitting in Oklahoma City. I really feel like we are that close. I'm ready and I think it's time for us to get to the next floor.

"We have hit those lower process steps. We can't skip any of those steps to get to the next floor, but I am eager and anxious to get there." 

Stuedeman's path to the Promised Land is under construction literally and figuratively. The Bulldogs will unveil a new softball stadium this season that will be unrivaled in the Southeastern Conference.

"We are getting 1,000 chair backs, we're getting a new training room. a brand new locker room and state of the art dugouts," Stuedeman said. "We are getting exactly what we need to enhance our program.

"We will have a brand new bullpen, because we had to take the older one out to expand the stadium. Everything is going to be brand new. Everything is going to be brick and that's going to be unique.

"This is the 20th year of SEC softball, so it's a great year to be building a brand new stadium. We are going to have the absolute best brand new stadium. It's everything we could want and more."

Mississippi State softball fans will also have some new amenities and experiences once the new facility is complete and fully operational.

"We are going to have a connecting walk way over to tennis," Stuedeman said. "We are going to have drink rail up there, so people can lean against it and watch the game from that area. It's going to be like an elevated concourse. That's going to be something unique that other people don't have.

"We are going to have a beautiful facility. The brick work is just going to make it so unique. It's one of the first things people are going to see when they first come on campus and we're going to have something we can really be proud of."

Potential recruits have taken notice of the direction of the Mississippi State softball program as well as the new facilities that would be available to them should they elect to wear the Maroon and White.

"Everybody is ecstatic about it and we're beginning to get some new interest from people who weren't showing us a lot of interest before," Stuedeman said. "People see the commitment that Mississippi State is putting into softball. The SEC Network has helped a lot too.

"When a recruit comes to your campus, they want to know the commitment level is there in all areas. When we can show them that we have a brand new six million dollar facility, it just screams that we are behind our softball program. It shows them that we want to be competitive and that we want to be successful.

"If you're recruiting the right kids, then this is what they want to see. They want to win a National Championship and they see here that there is an athletics department that is behind them every step of the way. It makes it easier for them to say 'YES' to Mississippi State."

The road to progress is often paved with hardship. The softball Dogs are having to work around the construction crews that are working to bring the conference's premiere facility to campus. Stuedeman reports that she has made the situation a teachable moment for her players.

"We always talk about hitting the proverbial curve ball," Stuedeman said with a smile. "It's so hard to play away in our league in any sport. The crowds are huge and not always positive about the opponents. 

"This provides us an opportunity to be uncomfortable when we're practicing. When we go play at other places, we're going to be uncomfortable, so hopefully this gets us better prepared for that. Honestly, just hearing the jack hammers and the banging and all of the moving around out there is just wonderful noise to me. It's a great problem to have."

Due to the construction on campus, Stuedeman will take her team on the road for the entire fall slate of exhibition games. Mississippi State will open the fall on the road at Delta State September 20th. A double header at Troy will follow September 27th.

The ladies open the month of October with a neutral site match-up with rival Ole Miss at Tupelo October 3rd before a double header on the campus of East Mississippi October 4th and trip to Pensacola State College concludes the fall schedule October 5th.

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