STILLWATER, Okla. / STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi Valley State University softball program saw its all-time coaching wins leader, Lee Smith, have 15 years of persistence and determination pay off as he was selected t0 be the NCAA’s site representative during both the Stillwater Regional and Starkville Super Regional for the 2022 NCAA Softball Tournament.
Coach Smith noted the hospitality of the Oklahoma State staff as similar to MVSU in that it is “just a bigger version FAMILY school. Everyone speaks and made sure that I was well taken care of as they let me invade their space (administration, coaches, and players),”.
After the quartet of #7 Oklahoma State, Nebraska, North Texas, and Fordham has concluded with the host Cowgirls winning the Regional, he anticipated that he would remain in Stillwater another week to cover the Super Regional, but Mississippi State had another scenario in mind as Smith was called to “Starkvegas” instead for the Lady Bulldogs’ first-ever weekend as Super Regional host after upsetting Florida in Gainesville.
The SWAC’s all-time winningest softball coach with 414 victories got to be a part of a historical event inside Nusz Park as MSU had previously never hosted a Regional, let alone a Super Regional, and Smith was familiar with the host facilities after pitting his Devilettes against Mississippi State over the past 15 seasons, so he got the nod.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I arrived on campus, basically they had four days to get everything ready. MSU did a great job and was well-organized as the entire staff was there including the President, former President, and Athletic Director,” said Lee Smith. “I was a part of history as one of the games had 2,299 spectators, the largest softball game in the history of the program.”
Despite the visiting Wildcats of Arizona prevailing in both contests, Coach got to experience two once-in-a-lifetime events and will hopefully be able to parlay the 2022 representation into his dream job of getting to work at the NCAA Softball World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the future.
“I would fill out the form [to be a site representative] every year for the last 15 years and never got the call but eight of those years we [MVSU] was in a regional or always in the hunt to win an SWC Championship,” Coach Smith stated. “I was nervous the two days before I got the call but when Friday came, I just kept telling myself ‘you have gone to eight NCAA Regionals, use your experience’,”.
Smith is still a regular at MVSU Softball Field as he currently fills the role of Associate Athletic Director within the Mississippi Valley State athletic department.