SEC Announces Conference Softball Schedule
STARKVILLE – The Southeastern Conference announced the league’s 2021 softball schedule on Friday morning. Mississippi State, which led the nation in wins a year ago, will open the conference portion of the season on the road against in-state rival Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs will play eight weekend series for a total of 24 conference games. Each SEC program will play one series on Saturday/Sunday/Monday with the Monday night matchup airing on SEC Network. Those series will be designated at a later date along with television information and start times.
“We are thrilled to be making strides towards getting back on the field after a long hiatus,” head coach Samantha Ricketts said. “The leadership and collaboration from Commissioner Sankey, the SEC office, and each institution has been tremendous in the collective effort to return to competition this year. We are looking forward to providing our student athletes the championship experience that comes along with competing in the Southeastern Conference and are ready to start the season.”
MSU and Ole Miss will meet for the 73rd time on March 12 to open league play. The Bulldogs hold a 42-30 lead in the all-time series, including an 18-14 mark in Oxford. The teams last met in the 2019 conference tournament.
State’s SEC home opener is set for the weekend of March 19-21 when the Bulldogs host Florida for the first time since 2018. The last time the two teams met, MSU won the series over the then-No. 7 Gators for its first series win against Florida since 2004.
Ricketts’ squad will go on the road to meet Arkansas (March 26-28), Missouri (April 16-18) and South Carolina (April 30-May 2). The Bulldogs will host Tennessee (April 9-11), Texas A&M (April 23-25) and Georgia (May 7-9).
The Bulldogs will be playing Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina for the first time since the 2018 campaign. State will not play Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky or LSU in conference play this season, but the Crimson Tide will host the SEC Tournament on May 12-15 in Tuscaloosa.
The non-conference portion of the schedule and applicable COVID-19 protocols and guidelines will be announced at a later date.
MSU finished the shortened 2020 season with a 25-3 record and a No. 20 ranking in the NFCA and USA Softball/ESPN polls. In her first season leading the program, Ricketts became the fastest Bulldog coach to win 20 games, the first to see her team nationally ranked in her first year and the first first-year head coach to lead the country in wins since at least 1989.
The Bulldogs return all but three members of last year’s roster, with four newcomers joining the program. All-Americans Fa Leilua and Mia Davidson lead the way offensively and both were named to Softball America’s Preseason Top 100 Players list. Both are among the top 10 active players in the NCAA in career home runs.
Juniors Emily Williams and Annie Willis pace the team in the circle. Williams ranked third nationally in ERA (0.46) and led the country in hits per seven innings (2.30) in 2020, while Willis ranked eighth in ERA (0.80) and seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.75).