June 19, 2014 8:48:36 AM
STARKVILLE -- Three seasons ago, Beth Mullins took an assistant softball coaching position on new coach Vann Stuedeman's staff at Mississippi State.
Mullins felt the job would be a great way to help her with her next career opportunity.
That chance beckoned Tuesday when Mullins was named the second head softball coach at Troy University.
"This is an incredible opportunity for me, one certainly too good to pass up because I have always wanted to be a head coach," Mullins said. "I know this opportunity would not have come along had I not worked the past three seasons for Vann Stuedeman. It will be tough to leave, but this is the chance I have been wanting and working toward."
Mullins replaces Melanie Davis, who led the Trojans for the first 21 seasons of the program's existence before resigning after this past season's 22-30-2 finish. Under Davis, Troy won two Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles and played in one NCAA regional tournament. Davis compiled a 780-509-4 record.
"I went on their campus and met with their athletic director (John Hartwell) and he was very impressive," Mullins said. "Troy has a brand new facility, and the Sun Belt Conference really plays great softball. It felt like the right fit. I learned a long time ago from several people it is all about the fit in this business. When I stepped on their campus, I knew it was the right fit."
At MSU, Mullins coached the outfielders, worked with the hitters, and was the lead recruiter. On Wednesday, she received a lot of praise from Stuedeman for bringing in the highly regarded freshman class that made a huge impact in this past season's 39-21 campaign. Freshman Caroline Seitz was named first-team NFCA All-South Region, while she and pitcher Alexis Silkwood made the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team. MSU played in three regional tournaments under the leadership of Stuedeman and Mullins and this past season fellow assistant coach Tyler Bratton.
"We played so many young players, and they stepped up and made immediate impacts," Stuedeman said. "Beth is the biggest reason why those players came in. She put together a recruiting plan to help us bring in the players we need to play in the best conference in the nation."
A native of Fairhope, Ala., Mullins played softball at Alabama Birmingham. Prior to coming to MSU, Mullins was an assistant coach at Western Kentucky, UAB, and Georgia Southern.
"I learned something at each stop," Mullins said. "What I really learned from Vann is a passion for the game and having the enthusiasm level you need in this league every day. I learned a lot about myself here. The SEC makes you tough. I have realized I have become that much tougher as a person.
"I have learned so much from Vann. I learned being more enthusiastic than I once was. I learned how to love the game even more than I already did. She has done an incredible job with this program, and I am going to try to do the same thing with the program at Troy. I want to make everybody proud."
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter