By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Vann Stuedeman was wearing a dress and heels, but she was eager to get into her coaching garb and begin getting Mississippi State back on track.
Stuedeman was introduced Thursday as MSU’s new softball coach, replacing the fired Jay Miller. The 38-year-old comes from Alabama, where she led one of the SEC’s best pitching staffs for 11 seasons.
Stuedeman takes over a program that’s missed the NCAA tournament the last two seasons. The Lady Bulldogs were 24-32 this past season, Miller’s ninth.
“There are some really nice players on this team. I’m ready to take them and their passion and get them ready to compete,” Stuedeman said. “We are not far off. We could be in the NCAA tournament this year; that’s achievable.”
She’ll inherit a pitching staff that ranked last in the SEC in ERA last season (4.90). Alabama’s pitchers compiled a league-leading 1.69 ERA as the Crimson Tide reached the Women’s College World Series.
Stuedeman lost her job at Alabama after head coach Patrick Murphy accepted the same job at LSU but then returned to Tuscaloosa a few days later. MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin wasn’t deterred by that and got good recommendations from Baylor coach Glenn Moore and Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson.
Stricklin believes Stuedeman can hang with the SEC’s best coaches.
“The people I talked to felt like she could handle it, and meeting her face to face, I don’t have any doubt – I don’t think she’s going to be someone who ever backs down,” Stricklin said.
The AD said he initially was looking at mostly head coaches to fill the vacancy, but Stuedeman’s name kept coming up. She visited Starkville on Tuesday and was offered the job Wednesday.
She put an emphasis on recruiting and called herself a “blue-collar worker.”
Stuedeman said, “I’m ready to go to work. I’m ready to get out of this dress and go to the ballfield.”
Among SEC teams, only Ole Miss remains without a softball head coach. There are reports that an offer has been extended for that vacancy.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.