Following the announcement that Vann Stuedeman would not be returning for the 2020 season, the search for a new head softball coach began mid-summer and ended in dubbing in-house talent Samantha Ricketts as head coach for the Mississippi State University softball team.
Spending a total of four years combined in assistant and associate coaching positions, Ricketts was introduced as MSU’s head softball coach July 25th. The hire made Ricketts the sixth head softball coach at MSU.
The former All-American and San Jose, California native made an appearance at one Women’s College World Series in her career at Oklahoma, six NCAA Regional berths and two Super Regional appearances during her coaching career.
During the press conference, Athletic Director John Cohen voiced his enthusiasm about the new hire and what led to the in-house decision.
“We were looking for someone who had history of consistent excellence, both on and off the field,” Cohen said. “Everyone we talked to in our softball program, around our softball program and around the country talked about the consistent excellence of Samantha Ricketts."
The ability to lead by example is what Cohen said stood out the most about Rickets in conversations he had with players, coaches and softball experts across the country.
Laying the foundation, Rickets set forth her goals in developing the bulldogs into better players on the field, but also better women once they graduate from MSU.
“I want to be a strong, female role model for these girls, a stable presence—someone they know they can come to, and that they have a consistent leader in,” Ricketts said. “I want to teach them how to be adults, how to grow up and how to be a strong, empowered women when they leave here. That’s a huge piece of why I am the way I am."
Reflecting on the support and the time spent at Oklahoma University, where Ricketts played softball and reached the College World Series, Ricketts said she hopes the players can find similar success at MSU and they will look fondly on their careers at MSU.
"I want the girls to leave here saying they enjoyed every minute of it, or the two years or the three years, whatever they had left," Ricketts said. "I want these girls to leave here saying that they loved Mississippi State, they loved the program and their teammates. That it's something they can always look back on and remember as the greatest four years of their careers.”
During their 2019 campaign, the Bulldogs finished 35-23 overall and received their 15th NCAA Tournament bid in school history. Although Ricketts has big shoes to fill in order to maintain the program and build a winning culture at MSU, she is looking forward to the season ahead.
"I know I have a lot of really good people in my corner and in this university that are going to be willing to help," Ricketts said. "They’ve already reached out and are helping me along the way. I’m ready to get started. I just really appreciate this opportunity, and I’m just ready to go.”