Leading off with obvious things here: there’s a lot to talk about with Mississippi State baseball right now as they prepare to head to Lafayette for the ULL-hosted NCAA Regional.
- To start, MSU’s first opponent – San Diego State – is a rare west coast team for the Bulldogs to play and one State knows little about, and vice-versa. John Cohen said Monday that coaches have their ways and he was confident in the ability to get tape on the Aztecs so they could study.
- On that note, Cohen said what they see in that tape could help decide what MSU does with its pitching rotation. It seems Trevor Fitts, Ross Mitchell and Lucas Laster have worked themselves into the top three, but the order MSU uses them this weekend is up in the air. Cohen said it will mostly be about who is truly ready, though anything glaring on film study could change that.
- The fourth team in this Regional is actually one MSU knows well: Jackson State. In fact, when their team bus caught fire a few weeks back, MSU loaded up a truck full of gear, clothing and other baseball necessities to help cover for their equipment losses. It’s possible MSU could go the full weekend without playing the Tigers, but it’s still neat to see someone you know on the road.
- Speaking of connections, there are a bunch for MSU and ULL: the MSU men’s tennis team opened NCAA Tourney play with a win against the Ragin’ Cajuns a few weeks back, MSU’s softball team was placed in the ULL Regional two weeks ago (which helps Cohen’s staff as they have someone very familiar with the area) and as Cohen pointed out, former MSU wide receivers coach Mark Hudspeth is now the head football coach at ULL.
- Looking to the skies, the city of Lafayette is under several inches of water at this moment and it sounds like more rain might be on the way this weekend. The good news is that ULL’s field is turf and has a recently-installed drainage system, so the playing surface ought to be OK.
- Speaking of Ragin’ Cajun facilities, the fullness of their stadium appears to be causing some concern for State fans. The Regional is, in effect, sold out, as ULL season-ticket holders and donors were offered first crack at ticket books and bought them all. However, that doesn’t mean MSU fans can’t watch their Bulldogs. ULL fans have taken to MSU message boards saying they’ll be selling their tickets for non-ULL games, such as the opener between MSU and SDSU, and the ULL athletic department has announced they’ll sell additional $10 general admission tickets to non-ULL games if the stadium isn’t full once they get to 10 minutes before first pitch of those games, which it almost assuredly won’t be. There won’t be 10k-plus tickets available like State fans are used to at Dudy Noble, but there seem to be enough avenues to accommodate most Bulldogs on the road, though it will be much harder to get into a game between MSU and ULL if it happens.
- For those not going to Lafayette, all games will be broadcast on ESPN3. The option is there for ESPN networks to pick up any game, but at this point no such plans have been made. Kevin Dunn from the Longhorn Network and former major leaguer Keith Moreland will get the call for ESPN3 all weekend, according to ULL reporter Tim Buckley.
- MSU leaves for Lafayette around noon on Thursday.
Some non-regional baseball notes:
- The All-SEC teams were announced yesterday, with seven spots taken by Bulldogs on the list. Junior pitcher Jacob Lindgren was MSU’s sole representative on the first team, while senior second baseman Brett Pirtle and junior pitcher Ross Mitchell both made second team. Catcher Gavin Collins was named to the All-Freshman team, while Pirtle and junior shortstop Seth Heck were both named to the All-Defensive team. Additionally, Heck was named the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year, a very big honor. In fact, it’s the second year in a row a Bulldog has won it, after Sam Frost earned the title in 2013.
- Earlier this week, Mitchell was named to the SEC Community Service Team, while Collins and senior outfielder C.T. Bradford were both named All-Tournament at the SEC Tourney.
- Also, some news from the pros: former Bulldog Hunter Renfroe has apparently been tearing it up in California Advanced A, where he has a league-leading 12 home runs, as well as 40 RBI. More on all of the 22 Bulldogs in the MLB and minors here http://www.hailstate.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=16800&ATCLID=209510770
Now for things which aren’t baseball, including some updates from SEC meetings in Destin. More news ought to come out today and tomorrow, but we got a little bit yesterday, too.
- Florida Today Gators reporter David Jones was one of many who caught up with Dan Mullen, and it was Mullen who shared some big news: the conference coaches seem to be in agreement on the idea of an early signing day in college football. They’ve pegged the Monday after Thanksgiving (or the Monday after the Egg Bowl, depending who you are) for the target date. The only issue is that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive seems less enthusiastic about the idea and implied nothing is imminent or unanimous on that front.
- Jones also asked about new SEC Network analyst and former Mullen quarterback Tim Tebow, a question which garnered one of Mullen’s self-deprecating and joking answers. Could MSU’s coach see his former player ripping him on the SEC Network? “Absolutely,” Mullen joked. “We didn’t always see eye-to-eye.”
- In other SEC news, Slive announced plans for the SEC men’s basketball tournament to be hosted in St. Louis in 2018 and Tampa in 2022, with Nashville as the host in other years. He also shared plans for the women’s conference basketball tournament to take place in Jacksonville in 2016.
- Switching sports, MSU track and field had five All-SEC honorees named this week as Brandon McBride made first team and Scottie Hearn earned second team for the men, while Rochelle Farquharson made first team, Cornelia Griesche checked in on the second team and Rhianwedd Price earned all-freshman for the women.
- On the links, a big promotion came for men’s assistant golf coach Sean Covich, who was hired as the new head coach at West Virginia for Mountaineers golf. Covich was a central figure in the recent rise of MSU golf.
- And finally, one note on the educational front: MSU had 38 student-athletes earn degrees at the end of the spring semester. Congrats to them all.