Scouting Mississippi State Softball's opponents in the Palo Alto regional

Mississippi State softball heads out to the West Coast for regional play. Here's what you need to know about their opponents in Palo Alto.
Sanford fans wait for the game to start before a softball game between Stanford and Washington at
Sanford fans wait for the game to start before a softball game between Stanford and Washington at / NATHAN J. FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY
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Mississippi State softball has found its way back into the postseason. After a disappointing 2023 season in which the Bulldogs missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016, State has dramatically outperformed expectations to get back to a regional.

MSU, who was picked last in the SEC in the preseason, finished sixth in the league with a 33-18 record and a 12-12 conference mark, which was their best since 2007. Ace pitcher Aspen Wesley and first-baseman Madisyn Kennedy have led this squad to a Top-20 record.

After one of the better regular season's in the program's recent history, the Bulldogs earned a 2-seed in the Palo Alto regional hosted by #8 national seed Stanford. Cal State Fullerton is the 3-seed, and Saint Mary's is the 4-seed.

State is travelling all the way across the country out to the Bay Area for a regional featuring three California schools playing in their home state. There's some unfamiliar competition for MSU, so let's take a look at the other three teams in the Palo Alto regional, starting with the host and 1-seed Stanford Cardinal.

517. Stanford. . 43-13, 17-7 Pac-12. . 1. . . .

One year after reaching the semifinals of the Women's College World Series, the Stanford Cardinal find themselves in strong position once again, earning the #8 national seed. This program has seen a steady rise under head coach Jessica Allister, and they're hosting a regional for the second-straight year.

Biggest Strength: The Cardinal are one of the best pitching teams in the country. They boast a 1.68 ERA with 7.5 strikeouts per seven innings and just a 1.03 WHIP.

Player to Know: Pitcher NiJaree Canady has been nothing short of dominant. She owns a ridiculous 0.50 ERA and has 256 strikeouts on the season.

Key Stat: Stanford hasn't been a great hitting team this season, but something they do well is draw walks. The Cardinal were near the top of the Pac-12 in walks on the year. Meanwhile MSU incredibly allowed just 82 walks all season. If these teams meet, this could be something to watch.