Cohen visits with media as fall baseball begins

Good timing? Mississippi State football is off this week and MSU baseball begins fall practice on Tuesday night. With action on the diamond coming up, local media visited with head coach John Cohen to get a little preview.

FPCDONOAJKJCEBI.20120225203711Of note, one of the most obvious changes is the new ball in college baseball, which has a lowered seam more similar to the MLB.

Cohen said it does make an impact, but he still expects Dudy Noble Field to be a tough place for hitters.

“I don’t think it’s a dramatic difference. I just think it will alter how far the ball will go a little bit,” he said. “We’ve noticed a little bit of difference in BP, but it’s not dramatic.”

To that end, Cohen did say he expects MSU’s offense to improve this year, particularly with the infusion of some power hitters, many of whom redshirted last year.

“We’ve got a little bit more power,” Cohen said. “I think we’re going to be a little bit better in the run-scoring area. I think that’s something we needed to improve on.”

Much of the leadership necessary in that area will come from senior first baseman Wes Rea, who Cohen said made some big strides over the summer.

“Wes’s attitude has been phenomenal,” Cohen said. “He’s made so many adjustments in every part of his life. Especially in conditioning, he’s just worked so hard.”

That conditioning is another thing Cohen harped on, saying this is the best shape he’s ever had a team be entering fall ball. He gave credit to strength coach Brian Neal for that improvement.

On that note, Cohen also said the team is relatively healthy, the only notables being pitchers Will Cox and John Marc Shelly, who Cohen said they’ll have to re-evaluate after the fall. Pitcher Paul young is one who Cohen expects to be good to go by February.

Of course, it is still the middle of October. MSU’s football team is No. 1 in the country after beating Auburn and Cohen, a football fan who grew up in Tuscaloosa, has been taking notice.

“I can’t imagine anything being more exciting than what we saw on Saturday,” he said. “I just want to take a minute to mention what this does for all of our student-athletes.”

Cohen himself was once ranked No. 1 in the country as a player at MSU back when he was playing baseball. He remembers what it’s like to play for the top team in the country.

“I think you’re so focused in on what you do, that you don’t know,” he said. “That’s a neat thing for me, watching the media frenzy that’s going on now, what’s enveloping our university.

“You wonder if the kids on the inside are experiencing everything we are, because you can get lost. But Dan [Mullen] has done such a good job of keeping them focused. It’s fun to talk about [as a player], but I tell you what, when you’re around your coaching staff, you know you better not let them hear it.”

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