Mississippi State Softball back in the NCAA Tournament

After a fantastic regular season, Mississippi State softball is back in the postseason. Where are they headed?
Mississippi State Bulldogs infielder Paige Cook (6) bats during the game agaisnt the Tennessee
Mississippi State Bulldogs infielder Paige Cook (6) bats during the game agaisnt the Tennessee / Gabriella Whisler / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mississippi State softball is back in the postseason. After going 33-18 during the regular season and SEC Tournament, including a 12-12 conference record that was the program's best since 2007, the Bulldogs are NCAA Tournament bound.

Mississippi State is headed to the Bay Area for the postseason. The Bulldogs will be the 2-seed in the Palo Alto Regional at Stanford. They will open up NCAA Tournament play against 3-seed Cal State Fullerton. The other opening matchup in Palo Alto will be host Stanford, the #8 national seed, against 4-seed St. Mary's.

State's matchup with Cal State Fullerton is scheduled for Friday, May 17 at 6:30 pm CT. It will only be available to watch through ESPN+. This will be the second meeting between the two this season. State defeated Fullerton 4-2 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic back in February.

This season has been a fantastic bounce-back for the program under fifth-year HC Samantha Ricketts. After making their first Super Regional appearance in school history in 2022, the Bulldogs had a disappointing 2023 season. They went 28-25 with just seven SEC wins and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

After last season's struggles, expectations were not high for Sam Ricketts' program. MSU was picked dead last in the SEC going into the year, and no Bulldogs were picked as preseason All-SEC selections.

State drastically outperformed those low expectations, finishing 6th in the league for their best conference finish since 2008. Three Bulldogs were named to the SEC's all-conference teams, including 1st-teamer Madisyn Kennedy. State is ranked as a consensus Top-20 team nationally.

Now they'll look to continue outperforming those preseason expectations in the postseason. Two years ago the Bulldogs defied the odds by becoming the first team in NCAA Softball Tournament history to eliminate a #2 national seed in regional play, and they did so by winning four-straight games while on the verge of elimination.

Can they go on another run on the road and get back to the Super Regionals? I wouldn't put it past them. State's been competitive with several strong teams already this season. They've got the makings of a team who could make noise in the tournament.