This weekend is huge for baseball in Mississippi as MSU and Ole Miss lock horns once again in SEC regular season play this weekend in Starkville, MS. Both teams contrast each other, and what we have is a classic baseball duel of good pitching (MSU) vs. good hitting (Ole Miss).
The last time these two teams played each other in Peal, MS, MSU struck out 16 times and looked extremely uncomfortable and lacking in confidence. MSU was also coming off of a sweep at the hands of South Carolina at the time. Since the Governor’s Cup, MSU is now on a four game winning streak after sweeping Tennessee during Super Bulldog Weekend, and then beating USM in Pearl- a game which featured two long MSU home runs by Mitch Slauter and Hunter Renfroe.
The key for MSU is to pitch well and play good defense. That’s our bread and butter- and had we played good defense against Ole Miss in the fourth inning of the Governor’s Cup, we probably win that game even with the 16 strike outs. Unfortunately, you can’t take a mulligan in baseball. But, what we can do is learn from that game and move forward.
And with a team that is inexperienced, that’s what has happened to our hitters a lot this year- learning from bad at bats, as well as the successful at bats that we’ve had. The hitting has been addressed by coach John Cohen, who basically wants the team to his the ball back through the middle and try to keep the barrel in the strike zone a little bit longer. If it were me coaching- I would basically tell the team to try to hit line drives and try not to do too much. After all, it was Yogi Berra who said- “How the hell are you going to hit and think at the same time?” The message there- simplify.
The reason that this series is big for MSU aside from the obvious bragging rights is we need wins over RPI top 50 teams. So, winning this series would be a nice notch in our belt as far as postseason play. After this series, we will have opportunities against Florida and Kentucky to get top 50 wins as well. But, the more that we can get the better.
And now for some baseball recruiting news: Cort Brinson, a catcher/first baseman/outfielder from Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg will be walking on to MSU in the fall. He will be an academic walk-on, and he is one of the top power hitters in the state this spring. As of now- his team is in the playoffs- he has 8 home runs and is hitting .485. Cort was named Dandy Dozen prior to this season by the Clarion-Ledger and he represented Mississippi in the prestigious National Power Showcase in Arizona. Perfect Game has named MSU signee John Marc Shelly the top prospect in Tennessee, so congratulations to him. Shelly will likely be our closer in the very near future and has topped out at 95 MPH on his fastball.
Until next time- Hail State!