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By DANNY P. SMITH
One of the hottest college baseball teams in the country is headed to the warmth of the Sunshine State.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs, under fourth-year head coach John Cohen, will participate in the Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional, which will be hosted by the No. 3 nationally-seeded Florida State Seminoles.
â€śWeâ€™re excited to be playing in a great atmosphere like Florida State,â€ť Cohen said. â€śMississippi State has had success there in the past. We feel like this is one of the best fields in the country.â€ť
MSU swept through the Tallahassee Regional in 2007 and defeated Clemson in a super regional in Starkville to make the schoolâ€™s eighth appearance at the College World Series.
This yearâ€™s field once again consists of 16 regionals featuring four teams that play a double-elimination format from Friday through Monday if necessary.
The second-seeded Bulldogs meet No. 3 Samford first in Tallahassee on Friday at 11 a.m., while the No. 1 Seminoles take on another Birmingham-based school in UAB.
Even though his team is hosting and has a high national seed, it does not keep Florida State head coach Mike Martin from being a little bit nervous knowing that Mississippi State is in the field.
â€śWe know how hot Mississippi State is in winning (eight of its last nine) games,â€ť Martin said on ESPNU during its NCAA Selection Show Monday afternoon.
The Bulldogs (39-22) won the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship on Sunday by shutting out Vanderbilt 3-0. Along the way MSU knocked off three ranked opponents in No. 14 Arkansas 9-1, No. 2 LSU twice 3-2 and 4-3, and No. 11 Kentucky 2-1.
â€śItâ€™s been a fun week and a wild ride,â€ť said Bulldog shortstop and SEC Tournament MVP Adam Frazier. â€śWe know itâ€™s going to be a tough regional at Florida State; and weâ€™ve got our work cut out for us.â€ť
The Seminoles (43-15) are making their 35th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which stands second all-time. Florida State won the regular season Atlantic Coast championship, but was eliminated early in the ACC Tournament.
Samford brings a mark of 39-21 to Tallahassee, while UAB stands 32-28.
The Blazers, which is coached by former MSU assistant Brian Shoop and volunteer assistant Ron Polk, face the Seminoles in the other first-round matchup. Samford, another set of Bulldogs out of the Southern Conference, makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The SEC led the nation with the number of teams making the tournament with eight, while the ACC was next with seven.
The winners of the 16 regionals advance to eight super regionals. Those hosts will be announced on http://www.NCAA.com/cws on Monday at approximately 10 p.m. after the conclusion of all regional action.
With the way the bracket is set up, the winner of the Tallahassee Regional advances to the super regional round against the survivor of the Palo Alto, Calif. Regional, hosted by Stanford.
The 66th College World Series begins play on June 15 at the TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.