Mississippi State softball: How will Samantha Ricketts, Bulldogs fare on road vs. Ole Miss?

2022 NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championship
2022 NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championship / Brian Bahr/GettyImages

Samantha Ricketts and her Mississippi State Bulldogs are on their way to Oxford for a pretty crucial series. SEC play is starting for softball teams and that includes the Mississippi State softball team and the Ole Miss Rebels.

Because, well, those two teams are facing each other this weekend. 

As both teams look to make a statement in the conference, there are a number of questions that need answering. Let’s dive into a handful of key questions that need answering in this matchup for the Mississippi State softball team.

Mississippi State softball preview: 3 questions as Bulldogs face Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford

No. 1. Can Mississippi State's impressive hitting continue its impressive pace against Ole Miss' solid pitching?

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have been on a remarkable tear at the plate. MSU boasts an impressive .362 batting average and State is scoring an average of 7.37 runs per game. However, Miss. State hasn’t really faced a pitching staff like the Rebels’ for much of this season (though State has faced several tough tests in the circle).

Still, Ole Miss has a combined 2.16 ERA and is holding folks to a mere .226 batting average. So, will the likes of Sierra Sacco and Jessie Blaine be ready to maintain their offensive dominance against Ole Miss and their ace Makenna Kliethermes? Or the rest of the Ole Miss pitching staff?

The battle between Mississippi State’s hot bats and Ole Miss’ strong arms could be a huge part of what decides this series.

No. 2. Will Ole Miss's home-field advantage play a significant role?

While Mississippi State has been perfect at home (12-0), they have yet to play a true road game up to this point in this season. MSU has done well in neutral site contests of their own, but the Bulldogs haven’t faced a road contest just yet.

Will the Rebels be able to capitalize on a hypothetical home-field advantage? Can the Bulldogs overcome the challenges of playing in a potentially hostile environment?

No. 3. Which team's pitching staff will rise to the occasion?

Alright, we’ve one team’s pitching staff. Let’s take a gander at how impressive both have been up to this point in the season. The Mississippi State Bulldogs have been just as impressive as the Ole Miss Rebels (and in some ways a little more so). 

The Bulldogs’ pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.54 and MSU has struck out 106 batters in 113.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, the Rebels’ have a 2.16 ERA and they’ve struck out 124 batters in 129.1 innings pitched.

With both teams featuring strong pitchers, there’s a chance this series comes down to which staff is able to best neutralize the opposing team’s lineup in critical situations. Will it be the Bulldogs’ duo of Josey Marron and Aspen Wesley? Or can State ensure that Makenna Kliethermes doesn’t silence MSU’s bats with regularity?