News from MSU Media Relations--January 21

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Softball.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Spaces remain for Mississippi State's 2009 winter clinic slate which begins with a coaching clinic on Jan. 30 and continues with four skills clinics Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The winter clinics will feature instruction from Bulldog head coach and NFCA Hall of Fame inductee Jay Miller and his staff.

Registration for the winter clinics can be found under camps on the softball page of MState's Athletic Department web site ( For additional information on the weekend, contact associate head coach Annie Smith by phone (662-325-0572) or e-mail (

The coaching clinic, which runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and costs $30, will focus on hitting and defensive skills and drills, fastpitch softball fundamentals, practice planning, strength and conditioning, and offensive and defensive strategy.

MState head coach and NFCA Hall of Fame inductee Jay Miller and his staff host two separate sessions - an all-skills clinic and a junior high pitching and catching clinic - on Jan. 31. The weekend slate concludes Feb. 1 with a hitting clinic and a high school pitching and catching clinic.

The two pitching and catching clinics are designed to provide in-depth instruction into both pitching and catching. Participants will learn the basic fundamentals of either position, plus have the opportunity to learn advanced skills and drills related to pitching or catching. These clinics will aid the athlete just learning the skills or the advanced softball player.

The all-skills clinic will cover mechanics, skills and drills designed to help improve play at the plate and in the field, while the hitting clinics will guide participants through the mechanics, skills and batting drills that will aid in the improvement of power and consistency at the plate.

Miller, entering his seventh season as head coach of the Bulldogs, is internationally recognized as one of the top coaches and teachers in softball. A leading authority on softball technology, he has written more than 30 articles for professional publication, including the "Offensive Strategy" chapter for The Softball Coaching Bible, published by Human Kinetics Press in 2002. He has also developed five softball skills videotapes that are published internationally in addition to his extensive work as one of the top softball clinicians in the world.

Miller and his staff have guided the Bulldogs to five NCAA regional appearances in the last six seasons, and entering his 27th season as a head coach, he ranks 12th among active NCAA Division I coaches with 926 victories. Last season his Bulldogs captured the program's second 40-win season (41-22) and advanced to the NCAA Tempe Regional. A staple in the USA Softball coaching ranks, he guided the USA Junior National Team to the gold medal at the 2007 Junior World Championships in the Netherlands.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State softball team was picked to finish third in the Western Division by Southeastern Conference coaches, the league office announced Tuesday.

State earned 30 points to finish behind Alabama, which was picked to repeat as SEC West champion, and LSU. The coaches selected Auburn to finish fourth, followed by Arkansas and Ole Miss, respectively.

Defending SEC champion Florida received all but one vote to repeat as SEC overall champion. Tennessee followed the Gators in the Eastern Division standings, with Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky rounding out the division standings.

"We are excited to be picked third in the SEC West, but the conference is going to be extremely tough once again," MState head coach Jay Miller said. "The SEC is going to be up for grabs again, and it really is going to come down to who is comes to play. I think this is the strongest I've seen the league top to bottom, but we are ready to get the season started."

Points for the poll were accumulated on a 1-2-3-4-5 basis for the Eastern Division and a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

State, which is receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll, opens the 2009 slate Feb. 6-8 when it hosts Iona, Louisiana-Monroe and Kennesaw State in the Bulldog Round-Robin. Admission to all MState home softball games is free.

The Bulldogs return 11 players from the 2008 edition that finished 41-22 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time overall and the fifth time in the past six seasons.

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