USM, MSU will host MHSAA Fast-Pitch Softball State Championships in 2018 & 2019
The MHSAA Fast-Pitch Softball State Championships will have two new venues in May 2018.
The Class 6A, 4A and 2A championships will be hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, while the Class 5A, 3A and 1A championships will be hosted by Mississippi State University in Starkville. Each of the six classifications will swap venues in 2019.
“We believe this is going to be a great opportunity for our schools and our students,” MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. “These young ladies will have an opportunity to play in Division I facilities with all the amenities. The universities are very enthusiastic about hosting these events as well.”
Newton County coach Justin Chaney was elated with news of the announcement. Chaney’s teams have won seven MHSAA Fast-Pitch State Championships in his 16 seasons with the Lady Cougars.
“When this was first mentioned, I was ecstatic,” Chaney said. “And I’m still ecstatic today. This is a move in the right direction for fast-pitch softball. I went to the MHSAA Football championships at Ole Miss last weekend. Seeing that environment, I know these young ladies from all the schools will be excited to play in a college stadium. It’s a great honor. I’m proud of the MHSAA for doing this.”
The best-of-three championship format remains in place at both ballparks.
“Splitting the six classifications between two sites should help us avoid early and late starting times,” Hinton said.
At Southern Miss At Mississippi State
Thursday, May 10 Thursday, May 10
1:30 PM: Class 2A (Game 1) 1:30 PM: Class 1A (Game 1)
4:00 PM: Class 4A (Game 1) 4:00 PM: Class 3A (Game 1)
6:30 PM: Class 6A (Game 1) 6:30 PM: Class 5A (Game 1)
Friday, May 11 Friday, May 11
1:30 PM: Class 2A (Game 2) 1:30 PM: Class 1A (Game 2)
4:00 PM: Class 4A (Game 2) 4:00 PM: Class 3A (Game 2)
6:30 PM: Class 6A (Game 2) 6:30 PM: Class 5A (Game 2)
Saturday, May 12 Saturday, May 12
TBD: Class 2A (If Necessary) TBD: Class 1A (If Necessary)
TBD: Class 4A (If Necessary) TBD: Class 3A (If Necessary)
TBD: Class 6A (If Necessary) TBD: Class 5A (If Necessary)
“These are top-notch stadiums for the fans and the players,” said Harrison Central coach Jimmy Parker, whose teams have won four state championships since he started the program in 1995. “It’ll be something these girls will remember for the rest of their lives even if they never go on to play softball in college.”
Southern Miss Softball Complex is home of the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and houses the program for all of its practices and home match ups.
Inside the confines of the Southern Miss Softball Complex, players have access to their player clubhouse which features all of the modern amenities such as a massive television for work and play, a player’s lounge where the Golden Eagles can relax as well as study film and prepare for games. Each player has their own locker while a separate training room provides on-site care for the team to handle the bumps and bruises that arise over the course of the year.
Outside, fans can enjoy the game from the comfort of the chair-back and bench seating which were part of a stadium revitalization project that was completed prior to the 2010 season. Additionally, the complex features one of the finest press boxes in the southeast, another addition in the 2010 project.
For the players, more than 5,000 square feet of indoor weight room is available in “The Zone” down the third base line. The weight room area was opened prior to the 2014 season and features various free weights, workout machines, squat racks, etc. Funded through private donations, the 3,000 square foot indoor batting cages behind the first base dugout serve as the primary cages for all teams.
The irrigated outfield features 419 grass with rye overseed and is one of the finest grounds in the southeast. The dugouts have a “major-league” design and hold restrooms and ample storage space.
On March 21, 2002, Southern Miss hosted Arkansas in a doubleheader for the Complex’s first competition. An attendance of 668 was on hand to see the inaugural event.
Golden Eagles fans were faithful throughout the first season at the Complex. With 19 home games, the opening year at the Complex attracted 10,714 people, recording an average of 564.
The highest attended event at the Southern Miss Softball Complex (902) came against No. 7 Alabama on April 22, 2014, while the largest crowd in Conference USA play (624) was against Marshall on April 6, 2012.
NUSZ PARK … Located on the north side of the Mississippi State University campus since 1997, Nusz Park, formerly known as the MSU Softball Field, sits in the heart of Mississippi State’s physical plant.
The opening game at the MSU Softball Field came on Feb. 26, 1997, with the Bulldogs sweeping Samford in a doubleheader with back-to-back 4-0 scores. The opener was witnessed by over 300 brave fans that endured inclement weather.
Mississippi State posted a record of 303-162 (.652) overall record at the site and, in 1999, notched a school-record 21-6 record in the friendly confines, as well as a 12-2 mark in home SEC action.
Nusz Park, a $6 million project, includes 1,000 maroon chairback seats, in addition to an expanded concourse that includes new restrooms and concession stands. There is also abundant standing room space around the grandstand and outfield. The outfield portion draws comparisons to Dudy Noble Field’s world-famous Left Field Lounge. Also beyond the outfield wall, a state-of-the-art Daktronics video board was being installed. It will be the first video board in MSU Softball history.
It was announced on Jan. 22, 2016 that the facility would carry the name of alumni couple Tommy and Terri Nusz of Houston, Texas, and be known as Nusz Park. The Nusz’ lead gift for the softball facility was part of a significant contribution from them for Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign. The campaign gift continues their longtime support of the land-grant institution and will benefit athletics, academics, and other areas of MSU.
In addition, the new press box is constructed to the specifications of ESPN and the SEC Network. The structure contains separate booths for both home and visiting radio crews, TV crews and working media.
The playing surfaces across MSU athletics have always been regarded as some of the top surfaces in the country, with the field at Nusz Park being no different. It features Mississippi Pride grass – developed by researchers on the campus. The dimensions of the MSU Softball Field remain intact, stretching 200 feet down the lines and 220 feet to center field. The upgrades include new and updated bullpens, as well as a turf foul area marked by the Mississippi State logo and the school’s trademark phrase, “Hail State.”
MSU and visiting players and coaches will enjoy brand-new, larger dugouts and new locker rooms. In addition, a new training room is present to help keep players in shape to perform at the highest level.
The Southeastern Conference took notice of MSU’s new stadium as well, with the Bulldogs hosting the 2016 SEC Softball Tournament.
The new ballpark has already been considered as one of the top collegiate softball facilities in the nation. The Bulldogs’ first action in the new digs came against Southern Georgia, a 6-0 victory on Feb. 11, 2016. MSU opened play at Nusz Park with six-straight victories, including a sweep of the Bulldog Kickoff. State captured its first SEC win at Nusz with a 6-3 win against eventual WCWS finalists and third-ranked Auburn on March 19. Overall, the Bulldogs are 16-13 (.552) at home since the opening of Nusz Park.
Nusz Park was on national display, as it hosted the 2016 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament May 11-14, 2016. The four-day event hosted 12 teams and a total of 11 games and drew praise from coaches across the league to ESPN and SEC Network officials.