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SMITH COLUMN: Bulldogs show they can beat nation's best

May 29, 2012

Smith

It's hard to imagine the college baseball postseason throwing anything else at the Mississippi State Bulldogs that they can't handle.

Sure, it's going to be difficult for the Bulldogs to win the Tallahassee Regional, hosted by No. 3 national seed Florida State, this week, and it's going to be tough if MSU has to potentially make the trip out to Palo Alto, Calif., to play Stanford at a super regional in a couple of weeks.

However, after a run to winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament that went through several ranked team, the Bulldogs have shown they can beat some of the nation's best.

It has been well-documented what MSU did last week, but so amazing that it should be gone over again to help emphasize the point.

The Bulldogs defeated No. 14 Arkansas 9-1 to open the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., one week ago, then they knocked off LSU, the No. 2 team in the country, twice by scores of 3-2 and 4-3, and beat No. 11 Kentucky 2-1 to reach the finals.

MSU went into the tournament encouraged as it swept the Wildcats when they were ranked No. 2 in the nation.

In winning eight of their last nine games with all coming against ranked teams, it's hard to believe there's another squad out there hotter than the Bulldogs right now.

The key for MSU to having additional success in the postseason is to take that momentum to Tallahassee and beyond.

Florida State and Stanford can't be considered any more talented than LSU or Kentucky so the Bulldogs can go against those types of teams with confidence.

The thing that can be a stumbling block to MSU now is overconfidence.
It's something that shortstop Adam Frazier doesn't believe will be a problem for the Bulldogs.

"We haven't had a problem with that all year," Frazier said. "The biggest thing for us is to be confident enough in ourselves that we can do it. After winning the SEC Tournament, you have to be confident after that because it's about as tough as it gets."

This is the best time of the year if you are a college baseball fan. The postseason consisting of regionals, super regions and College World Series is as important to college baseball as March Madness is to college basketball.

Like basketball, teams can get hot in baseball and make a run to a tournament title. That's why MSU has opened some eyes with what it did in Hoover, Ala., last week.

It remains to be seen if the Bulldogs can continue that momentum in Tallahassee. The main thing for them to do is take one step at a time and the first one comes against a Samford team at 11 a.m. Friday that's capable of playing good baseball.

The formula of good pitching and defense with some timely hitting seems to be working for MSU to this point of the season.

Even though it would be nice for the Bulldogs to get a little more offense at times, there's no need to make any drastic changes to their approach to the game.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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