Baseball is different at Mississippi State.
It is not just something Bulldog fans watch until the next football season. It is more. Baseball is important.
Today, MSU opens its 45 days of fall baseball with a scrimmage at Dudy Noble Field at 4 p.m.
“We are really pleased with the group that we’ve got back,” said Bulldog head coach John Cohen. “This is one of the most unique falls that I’ve ever been a part of simply because we don’t have a ton of new players. The majority of our guys are returning and we feel very good about those guys.”
Mississippi State has 24 lettermen returning off last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament championship team which finished with a No. 22 ranking and a 40-24 record, the program's first 40-win season since 2005.
The Bulldogs once again turn to a pitching staff that led the SEC and was second in the nation with a 2.58 team earned run average. The Bulldogs return 13 of the 19 pitchers that helped give State one of the nation’s top pitching staffs last spring. Among the returning hurlers are seniors Kendall Graveman (2.81), Luis Pollorena (1.85) and sophomore relief ace Jonathan Holder (0.93), who concluded his rookie campaign with nine saves, three off the pace in the SEC.
“Having coaches on the field is extremely important to the success of your club and I feel like we have that,” Cohen said. “We have tremendous leadership on the mound, (and) we have great leadership from a positional player standpoint. We’ve already seen it in the weight room, and in our skill instruction.”
Adam Frazier returns off a summer on Team USA and a sophomore season that saw him turn in 91 hits with a .371 batting average, third-highest in the SEC. He’ll be joined by a healthy C.T. Bradford and Wes Rea who paced the team with 41 RBI in 2012.
“Having older guys on the field who know what our expectations are gives us the opportunity to have a whole bunch of coaches on the field,” he said. “It speeds up the development of the younger players, but our practice will be structured like it has been in the past. Every day is a practice day with an opportunity for an intrasquad game at the end of practice.”
The Bulldog roster will feature a fall roster of 41 athletes with 14 newcomers.
Fans are encouraged to join the team at Polk-Dement Stadium each weekend for its open scrimmages, starting this afternoon and continuing through early November.