The Notebook 6-06: Football news, MLB Draft, softball, golf, basketball and woodpeckers

Happy Maroon Friday (or just regular Friday in case you ran out of maroon clothing).

We’ve got a lot notes to hit recapping the last few days as most sports are finished and a few individuals still remain in action.

7641842First, the 2014 football season has already set a record. Today, MSU officially broke and set it’s own record for season tickets sold, the number hitting 44,320 this morning. Of course, this was expected with the expansion of Davis Wade Stadium, but it certainly speaks to the excitement of the year ahead to have hit the number so early.

That total will increase, as well, with tickets still available at HailState.com/tickets

On that note, I caught wind of some plans today which we’ll get more information on in the near future – MSU is working on a young/recent graduates section of seating for the young professionals who only recently finished school and aren’t yet able to afford some of the more premium seating options. Whenever the details on that get ironed out I’ll be sure to share some more information. Ought to be cool.

One other football item: MSU announced yesterday that it will be playing a home-and-home series with Arizona in 2022 and 2023, so you’ve only got eight years to secure tickets and travel. Seriously though, without knowing what either team will look like by then, this should be a fun matchup. The big part for MSU is that it fulfills the SEC rule calling for one opponent every year from another of the Power Five conferences.

BHUCQVERQVFSXFE.20130421001602Onto baseball: late last night MSU’s All-SEC reliever Jacob Lindgren was picked by the New York Yankees in the second round of the MLB Draft. The junior lefty had a breakout year in his new role coming out of the bullpen, leading to a big jump in his prospects and high demand for his services. Many who speculate on such things believe Lindgren could be called up to the majors as early as September. They believe his stuff to be that good.

On that note, the Yankees website wrote a bit about the selection, their only pick on the first day of the draft. Lindgren made specific mention of “the greatest fans in college baseball” as he said a few thank yous to those who helped him along the way. Check out the full story here – http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?c_id=nyy&content_id=78473392&notebook_id=78473656&partnerId=as_mlb_20140606_25454946&vkey=notebook_nyy&ymd=20140605

Oh, and on the same day he was drafted, Lingo was named a finalist for the Stopper of the Year Award given annually to the best reliever in college baseball by the National College Baseball Writer’s Association.

On a similar Bulldogs-becoming-pros note, Gabe Jackson signed his first NFL contract this week, officially making him an Oakland Raider. The Raiders website posted a story and video, which you can find here http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Sign-Third-Round-Draft-Pick-Gabe-Jackson/49e9a8cc-edf4-4a27-b502-d39e56da563a

Switching from former players to future players, one of Vann Stuedeman’s softball signees got a nice honor, being named the Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year. Her numbers are worth checking out A) because they’re kind of incredible and B) because she has outstanding stats as both a pitcher and a hitter.

As a senior this year, she posted a 0.80 earned-run average and recorded 335 strikeouts in 219.1 innings. Not limited to the circle, Ward was a monster at the plate, hitting .432 with eight home runs and 64 RBI as a senior.

On the subject of softball, I did want to share some interesting nuggets from the media relations department. The starting point: MSU’s strength of schedule was the the best in the SEC in 2014. Or toughest, whichever way you want to look at it. In a conference which had both teams in the National Championship (Florida beat Alabama), MSU’s schedule was the hardest, with opponents owning a combined 0.563 winning percentage. Conference champion Alabama, for instance, was 11th in the SEC at 0.453.

What’s impressive is how MSU fared against that schedule, winning 39 games (the third most in program history), going to a third-straight NCAA Regional, making the SEC Tournament and winning eight games against top 25 teams, the second most in program history.

In other outdoor news, junior golfer Ally McDonald continues to be great at hitting the little white ball into a small hole hundreds of yards away. She began play in the Curtis Cup today, where she is one of eight amateurs from across the country representing USA. It’s the second time this athletic year that she’s been on a Team USA and it follows the end of a season in which MSU’s women’s golf team finished sixth at the National Championships.

McDonald has shared her intentions to return for her senior year, bolstering an already talented roster in 2014-15 for Ginger Brown-Lemm.

Two random university-related notes:

First, President Mark Keenum was elected to the Southeastern Conference executive committee, an important job and influential position. That announcement adds to his role already with the SEC on the content committee for the SEC Network. MSU’s President becomes even more important and involved with the conference.

Second, this is just cool. Mississippi State researchers have been studying woodpeckers and their ability to absorb so much shock to the head. The goal is to make football safer and decrease concussions in the sport. Check out the story here – http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2014/06/05/of-birds-beaks-and-better-football-helmets.html

And finally, two basketball notes. First, Rick Ray announced the hiring of Tanner Smith as a graduate assistant on his staff. Smith played for Ray at Clemson previously.

Speaking of new faces, the basketball video department put out a highlight reel of Fallou Ndoye from practice this year. The 6’11” forward had to sit out in 2013-14, but he’ll be ready to play this fall and ought to make an immediate impact, judging by this video.

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