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Bulldogs ready for road swing

March 12, 2012

Demarcus Henderson looks top extend his eight game hitting streak against Southeastern Louisiana. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

The No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs have wrapped up a 17-game homestand at Dudy Noble Field and now they take the show on the road for the first time this season.

First up for the Bulldogs, who have a record of 14-3, will be a pair of games against Southeastern Louisiana (11-5) followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play at LSU (13-3).

Tonight at 6 p.m., State takes the field in Hammond, La., to play a very good Lion ballclub, which snapped a Nicholls State's five-game winning streak Sunday, 5-3. Southeastern Louisiana came from behind to plate four runs in the eighth inning and reliever Stefan Lopez came on with two scoreless innings to preserve the win.

The Lions are hitting .276 as a team and are paced by Brock Hebert with a .448 average. Jonathan Pace and Ladd Rhodes follow with .386 and .367 averages respectively.

Hebert leads the Southland conference in batting average, runs scored (20), hits (26), doubles (10) and stolen bases (15) and will certainly be a threat to the Bulldogs.

Southeastern Louisiana starts freshman right-hander Andro Cutura (0-1, 1.86) tonight. He took the loss at Jackson State last Tuesday after surrendering two runs on three hits in five innings pitched. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.

As for MSU, it's just excited to get on the road.

“I’m excited to go on the road and I think our players are too,” said Mississippi State head coach John Cohen. “They’ve been here long enough. Ii is spring break and they want to see something different. I think going to Hammond first is good preparation although Southeastern is a good club. They’ve won a lot of ballgames this year.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a successful 2-1 weekend against Mercer University where they battled injuries and still managed to earn wins over a talented Bear ballclub. MSU got a career-best, 8.1-inning, eight-strikeout pitching performance from junior righty Kendall Graveman in a series-clinching 3-1 Sunday win that provided Cohen with his 100th MSU coaching win.

State enters the week having won eight of its last nine games thanks in large part to saves leader Caleb Reed, who picked up his fifth save during the Sunday win.

“We will definitely split things up on the mound because we want everyone available for LSU,” said Cohen of his pitching plans for the midweek outings. “It will be the one inning here, one inning there kind of thing.”

At the plate, SEC Freshman of the Week Demarcus Henderson is making a name for himself as he has a team-high eight-game hitting streak in the works while carrying a .414 batting average into the week.

Sophomore shortstop Adam Frazier added seven hits last week and is batting at a  .375 clip from the leadoff spot for the Bulldogs.

Freshman first baseman Wes Rea also had a big week driving in six runs to raise his team-best RBI total to 16. Rea (.339) leads the team with five multiple-RBI games.

First pitch tonight and Wednesday is set for 6 p.m.

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