The Bulldogs felt the effects of roster turnover and an unusually difficult schedule in 2016, breaking a four-year stretch of earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament and making the best of it with a 26-31 record. With six starters returning, coach Vann Stuedeman expects a quick rebound for a roster that hit just .247 last year and won a mere three games in SEC action.
Senior third baseman Caroline Seitz is a key to the plan; she hit .282 with five home runs and 31 RBI and should finish in the top 5 in multiple career records for MSU. Senior catcher Katie Anne Bailey hit .271 and drove in 30 runs and hopes to return to her earlier form, when she hit .331 as a sophomore.
The pitching chores will rest most heavily upon senior Alexis Silkwood and junior Holly Ward. Silkwood (who won 26 games as a sophomore) threw 117 innings and posted a 3.10 ERA, while Ward won nine games and had a 2.74 ERA. Freshman Emily Mitchell may get a crack at some opportunities; she was a two-time all-state pitcher in Georgia.
NOTE: The Bulldogs signed a robust recruiting class in November for the fall of 2017 – nine players total. The group was ranked fourth nationally by FloSoftball, with No. 4 overall recruit Mia Davidson (the 2016 Gatorade player of the year in North Carolina) leading the way.