May 13, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Softball is serious business in Florida.
No one knows that better than Mississippi State sophomore outfielder Brittany Bell.
While growing up in the Tampa area, Bell discovered how important the game was in the Sunshine State.
Bell will accompany her Lady Bulldogs teammates to her home state this weekend for the NCAA tournament''s Tallahassee Regional. MSU will play California in the first round at 4 p.m. Friday. Florida State will play host to the double-elimination regional.
Bell attended a camp at FSU as a youngster. She was excited to learn she would be play in a tournament only 3 1/2 hours away from home.
"I''m excited it''s that close to home where the whole family can come watch me play," Bell said. "I texted them about us going to Tallahassee and they were watching (on ESPN) also."
While attending Riverview High School in Brandon, Fla., Bell was a four-year starter, and a first-team All-Western Conference member three of those seasons. She made The Tampa Tribune All-County team.
Her father, Joe, is heavily involved in tournament softball in the Tampa area, and Brittany said that takes up quite a bit of his time.
"Softball is pretty big in Florida," Bell said. "My dad coaches in tournaments every weekend. There is good competition in Florida, so it''s a big deal."
Bell played in 55 games as a freshman last season, with 32 starts. MSU softball coach Jay Miller said Bell was one of the best players on the team down the stretch last season and carried that momentum into this season.
"She has been doing a great job and was our most improved player from last year to this year," Miller said. "She has settled in and played a great outfield for us. She''s hitting in that No. 2 hole, moving runners, getting on base, and making things happen. She hit a big home run last Friday."
Bell is hitting .246 with two home runs and 16 RBIs. She leads MSU in times hit by a pitch (13).
Once Bell reaches she usually gets in scoring position. She is 15-for-19 in stolen bases.
"I like to contribute, move (leadoff hitter Chelsea) Bramlett around and if she doesn''t get on, I make sure I get on base so I can get something started at the top of the lineup," Bell said.
The Lady Bulldogs (28-26) earned their third consecutive NCAA tournament bid (eighth overall) by winning the last four games of the regular season.
"The season was pretty shaky, but toward the end we started getting into a groove," Bell said. "We knew we had to get things done. We''ve been coming together better as a team. The whole lineup is hitting and everyone is doing their job. Everything is working out."
WMSV-FM (91.1) will broadcast MSU''s games at the Tallahassee Regional.
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