Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

Amanda Ivy of Batesville prepares for her junior season for Mississippi State softball. Photo courtesy of MSU Softball

Amanda Ivy was perfect in the outfield for the Mississippi State Bulldogs last year. Photo courtesy of MSU Softball

Ivy and MSU team ready for season in new venue

By Myra Bean
Amanda Ivy is starting her junior season with the Mississippi State fastpitch softball team.
With the SEC tournament slated to be held in the newly built Nusz Park, the excitement among the team is at an all time high, according to Ivy in a Thursday morning telephone interview.
Mississippi State ended last season 36-21 in the NCAA Regionals in Lafayette, La.
Ivy said the SEC tournament will be tough.
“It’s going to be tough like another world series. We are having the best of the best down here in Starkville, Miss. We are pretty pumped about it in our new stadium. It’s going to be fun,” she said.
Nusz Park carries the name of alumni couple Tommy and Terri Nusz of Houston, Texas. The park will be christened Thursday when the Bulldogs open the season against Georgia Southern at 5:30 p.m. The weekend will be packed as the Bulldogs have five games in four days at home.
As of Thursday, the team has not gotten to see inside of the Park as the finishing touches are being made but that just makes the anticipation so much higher.
“We haven’t gotten to look inside much,” Ivy said. “It went up really fast and it looks really nice. We just can’t wait to play in it, new atmosphere, really good field. We are just super pumped.”
The feature Ivy is most ready to see is the locker room. She anticipates that will be her favorite part of the park.
“The locker room is really like a second home. You have all your stuff there. You have to go there before you get out on the field. Just being at the softball field is like a second home. You go to class. It’s a place to get away and have fun.”
The competitive SEC schedule is always something the fans look forward to. Mississippi State opens up SEC play at home the weekend of March 18 against Auburn.
Nemesis Ole Miss will be in Starkville April 2-4.
Ivy believes playing in the new park will boost the team’s confidence even though they have all developed a mind set of winning against everybody they play.
“We focus on the game and not who we play. We go into every game with a plan to succeed,” Ivy said.
One of the non-conference games will be against Central Arkansas at home during the Bulldog Slamboree March 5 at 3:30 p.m.
Playing with the Lady Bears in her freshman season is South Panola standout Nicole Fullilove.
Ivy had an impressive 2015 season with a .326 batting average with 44 hits, 35 runs scored and 38 RBIs. Her runs scored and RBI are both tied for second-best on the team. She ranked second in the SEC in sacrifice bunts with 10 and raked 12 extra-base hits with five doubles, two triples and five home runs, two of which were grand slams which is second in the Mississippi State record books.
 She recorded 23 walks and four hit by pitches, 12 multiple-hit games and eight multiple-RBI games on the season.
She finished the season with a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000 and committed no errors in 72 chances.
Ivy is not content with those numbers as she hopes to improve her batting average this year. The team has been taking live pitches from volunteer assistant Keilani Ricketts, who led the Oklahoma Sooners to the 2013 World Series championship from the pitching mound and just finished her third season in National Pro Fastpitch.
“She has really helped us out with our batting,” Ivy said. “If you can hit off Keilani Ricketts, you can hit off anybody.”
As for what head coach Van Stuedeman has asked of the team, Ivy said she wants them to follow the plan and the process going into every game.
“She has a thing, ‘so what, next pitch.’ The pitch has a life history of its own; take every pitch personally,” Ivy said.
Last year Ivy saw herself batting in many different spots in the order. That does not phase her.
“If I am in the batting order this year, it doesn’t matter where I am. I am going to be ready when they call my number whether top of the order or the bottom,” she said.
The same goes for defense. She played mostly in left field last year and played center field a couple of games.
“Wherever they need me to be, I will be,” Ivy said.
Closing out the interview, Ivy thanks the people in Batesville for everything and hopes that some fans from Batesville will make the trip to Starkville to see her play.
“They are a big part of me,” she said. “While I am down here, I always talk about our South Panola fans to a lot of people. I hope a lot of people can get down and watch us this year, especially us hosting the SEC tournament. It will be like another world series.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox