Courtney Bures Named to Preseason Watch List

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Mississippi State sophomore infielder Courtney Bures was among 25 players named to the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Preseason Watch List announced Wednesday afternoon by the Amateur Softball Association.

Bures becomes just the second player in school history to be named to the initial list, joining former MSU all-American Iyhia McMichael who was named to the census prior to her junior and senior seasons in Starkville. A list of 25 finalists will be announced for the award on April 5, with the list being narrowed down to 10 and then three in late April and early May. The USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award will be presented at the kick-off banquet for the NCAA Women's College World Series on May 31.

Bures garnered all-American accolades at shortstop for the Bulldogs as a rookie last season, hitting .388 (81-for-209) with 38 extra-base hits and 54 RBI. Along the way, the Haymarket, Va., native would also add 27 multiple-hit games, 16 multiple-RBI games, seven game-winning RBI and eight game-winning runs scored. She was decorated with first team all-SEC and freshman all-SEC laurels at year's end, while also becoming the first MSU player to take home SEC Freshman of the Year accolades.

In just her first weekend as a collegian, she tallied a .500 (11-for-22) average with four home runs in six starts at the MSU-hosted Bulldog Round-Robin en route to tournament MVP honors as well as SEC Player of the Week accolades. Her 17 home runs last season shattered a previous MSU freshman record and fell just short of the overall school record (18) set by McMichael as a junior in 2003.

"It's hard to have a better freshman year than Courtney had last year for us," said Mississippi State head coach Jay Miller. "I think she is a tremendous athlete both offensively and defensively and I don't think there's anybody better than her in the country at shortstop. I see her being a real anchor for us in both of those areas as she continues to mature and get better."

Mississippi State will open its 2006 season, Feb. 10-12, when the Maroon and White travels to Tampa, Fla., for the USF-hosted Best Western Invitational. State will battle both Western Kentucky and Jacksonville on February 10, before taking on the host-Bulls on the afternoon of February 11. Semifinals of the four-team tournament is set for later in the evening with the consolation and championship games of the tournament slated for February 12 at 10 a.m. ET and 12:30 p.m., respectively.

The Bulldogs return 13 letterwinners, including six position starters and four pitchers, off of last season's 35-31 ball club that advanced to its fourth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. State was recently picked to finish fourth in the SEC West in a preseason poll of the league's coaches and is receiving votes in the preseason NFCA/USA Today Top 25.

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