Here are the tough paths Mississippi State, Ole Miss softball face in NCAA regionals

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Mississippi State and Ole Miss softball endured a similar path in last week’s SEC Tournament. Each started with a thrilling first round victory – State taking down six-seed LSU in nine innings and Ole Miss defeating nine-seed Georgia.

Both were shutout the following round, ending their runs in Gainesville but providing a chance to rest ahead of the NCAA Tournament.

Sunday, the Bulldogs (32-24, 10-14 SEC) and Rebels (39-17, 12-12) got their draws.

Mississippi State was a two-seed placed in the Tallahassee Regional with No. 2 overall seed Florida State. South Florida, MSU’s opening opponent at 5 p.m. Friday, and Howard round out the group.

The Bulldogs are in a regional for the fifth consecutive time, the ninth time in 10 seasons and 17th time this century. Mississippi State had never made a regional prior to 2000.

Ole Miss softball center fielder Tate Whitley (No. 11) tries to slide under the catch of Mississippi State catcher Mia Davidson at the SEC Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on May 12, 2021.
Ole Miss softball center fielder Tate Whitley (No. 11) tries to slide under the catch of Mississippi State catcher Mia Davidson at the SEC Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on May 12, 2021.

MSU will be playing in one of college softball’s most hostile environments in hopes of advancing to its first super regional. The Seminoles are 24-4 at home, 33-0 against nonconference opponents and 4-0 against SEC foes.

FSU is hosting for the eighth consecutive season and has advanced to a super regional in its previous seven.

"It's another quality regional with Florida State, South Florida and Howard. I'm really excited to see the team down there in this environment," MSU coach Samantha Ricketts said in a news release. "It's something we've been working toward all year long and why we played such a tough schedule. I think we're battle-tested and ready to go. We're ready for the opportunity to go out and compete."

The winner of the Tallahassee Regional advances to face the winner of the Columbia Regional hosted by No. 15 Missouri.

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Ole Miss, also a two-seed, is set for the Los Angeles Regional hosted by No. 5 UCLA. The Rebels will face Loyola Marymount at 6:30 Friday while UCLA draws Grand Canyon.

Ole Miss is in the midst of one of its best seasons. The 12 SEC wins are second most in program history while the Rebels chase 40 wins for the fourth time.

Ole Miss earned its first regional bid in 2016 and has clinched a spot every season since.

"Our team is real confident right now," coach Jamie Trachsel said. "We've been playing our best when it matters the most, and you know, you have to be this time (of) year."

UCLA’s lone home loss in 22 games came May 1 against Utah. The Bruins are 24-3 against nonconference opponents and 5-0 against SEC schools – including an 8-0 win in five innings February against Mississippi State.

UCLA is also hosting its eighth consecutive regional and has advanced to seven straight super regionals.

The winner of the Los Angeles Regional advances to face the winner of the Durham Regional hosted by No. 12 Duke.

Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at skrajisnik@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter @skrajisnik3.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Who Mississippi State and Ole Miss softball face in NCAA regionals