MSU Softball Face Arizona State

LAFAYETTE, La. - The Mississippi State softball team (35-29) will make its second NCAA Regional appearance in three seasons as the fifth-seeded Bulldogs suit up Thursday to face second-seeded and fourth-ranked Arizona State (40-15) in the opening round of NCAA Regional 3, hosted by Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Bulldogs and Sun Devils will square off in game two of the opening round, with an approximate game time set for 2:30 p.m. at Lady Cajun Field. Top-seeded and third-ranked LSU will face sixth-seeded Northwestern State in Thursday's opening game at 12 p.m. and third-seeded and 19th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette will face fourth-seeded UMass in Game 3 at 5 p.m. Thursday's opening round will be concluded by a 7:30 p.m. elimination game between the loser of the Arizona State/Mississippi State and LSU/Northwestern State contests.

Both the Bulldogs and Sun Devils will head into Thursday's contest with a comfortable familiarity with one another, having faced off in a 2-1 contest on February 8 which was won by Mississippi State. Both teams collected seven hits in the contest, but the Maroon and White took advantage of four Sun Devil errors to plate a pair of runs, including the gamewinner on Iyhia McMichael's RBI double down the rightfield line in the bottom of the seventh.

Arizona State, which finished third in the PAC-10 after turning in a 10-8 conference record, will head into NCAA Regional 3 hitting .310 as a team and are paced by six players hitting .309 or better. Third baseman Phelan Wright, who went 0-for-2 with a sac fly in the February 8 contest against the Bulldogs, currently paces the squad with a .441 clip (67-for-152) on the shoulders of 23 extra-base hits (eight HR) and 37 RBI. Shortstop Kara Brun, who hit 2-for-3 against the Bulldogs in February, paces the team with 51 RBIs on a .392 (67-for-171) batting average.

State could face either of two pitchers in Wednesday's contest, but will likely square off against ASU's Erica Beach (27-12, 1.40 ERA) who suffered the loss in February. Kasey Whitehead (20-13, 2.45) will probably head to the circle for the Maroon and White.

Nineteen of Mississippi State's 36 opponents this season will make NCAA Regional appearance this weekend, with five collecting one or two seeds. The Bulldogs are 15-21 against teams in the NCAA's field of 48 teams.

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