Mississippi State pitcher Chris Stratton is in the midst of a very busy week.
After spending the afternoon in Jackson Monday accepting the C Spire/Ferris Trophy, signifying the best college baseball player in Mississippi, Stratton went to Sudduth Elementary in Starkville on Tuesday to visit its students. He's scheduled to be back there today.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs begin their final Southeastern Conference series of the season against the Kentucky Wildcats and Stratton is scheduled to be the opening game starter.
It has been a great season for the junior from Tupelo and there's no doubt the Ferriss Trophy was a deserving honor.
Stratton leads the SEC with a 9-1 record and ranks third in the league with a 2.22 earned run average. His 107 strikeouts ties for fifth-most in the nation and stands as one of only 11 100-strikeout totals in NCAA Division I this season.
Those impressive numbers also have Stratton on the 60-man midseason watch list for the 2012 Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the nation's top amateur player. He has been recognized as the SEC Pitcher of the Week twice this season after his performances against LSU (17 strikeouts) and Ole Miss (a complete-game shutout).
Stratton also sets a good example in the classroom and has surely shared some of that wisdom with the students at Sudduth. He is one of two SEC players to earn academic all-district honors and is among 88 candidates nationwide for the 2012 CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-America team honors. Stratton's academic ability came early in his career as he made the 2010 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.
It has been and up and down career on the mound for Stratton at MSU.
After achieving a 5-3 record with a complete game as a freshman with the Bulldogs in 2010, Stratton slumped to a 5-7 mark last season. He has bounced back nicely this year.
In accepting the Ferriss Trophy, Stratton said his career has been "an adventure and a lot of fun."
The only loss for Stratton this season came at Florida last Friday after giving up four runs, two earned, and striking out six.
Stratton has gotten five wins and eight quality starts in his last nine starts. A quality start is six or more innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed.
It's going to be very important for Stratton to have another one of those kind of outings for MSU Thursday night against Luke Maile and a potentially powerful Kentucky offense.
The Wildcats went into Tuesday's action second in the conference with a .304 batting average and Maile is ranked among the league leaders with 11 home runs.
The Bulldogs certainly have to be better than they were Tuesday night in a 2-0 home loss to Central Arkansas. Falling to a team in the midweek with a 23-26 overall record doesn't do anything to help MSU's rating performance index.
It doesn't do much for the morale of the Bulldogs either.
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.