STARKVILLE, Miss. - For much of the past six weeks Mississippi State's Baseball Bulldogs have kept a brisk pace with off-season strength and conditioning training and small group workouts. That pace quickens somewhat Thursday as Mississippi State begins its 45-day formal fall practice at Dudy Noble Field.
"We feel like we're off to a really solid foundation in strength and conditioning, and the opportunity to work with our players one-on-one before getting into a team setting has been very beneficial," said third-year Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen. "After six weeks of individual skills instruction, it's time for our kids to compete in a game setting."
The 44-player fall squad, featuring 15 returning letter-winners, begins its scrimmage-dominated six-week fall practice Thursday at 2 p.m. with a scrimmage at Dudy Noble Field. The normal practice routine will call for scrimmages Friday, Saturday and Sunday, mirroring MSU's SEC weekend schedule. Depending on the impact of weekend weather and specific practice needs, scrimmages or practices will also be conducted on Tuesday's and Wednesday's. Monday's and Thursday's will typically be "off" days. Late morning and early afternoon start times are anticipated for this weekend's scrimmages Saturday and Sunday.
"Last year was the year of young arms," said Cohen. "This year is the year of young positional and dual position guys. Eight of our new players are legitimate two-way players. We're very serious about their pitching and playing a position."
Senior infielder Nick Vickerson of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a 48-game starter last spring, sports the top batting average (.328) and top home run total (8) among MSU's returnees. He is one of five starting position players back from the 2010 club and among 17 of the 26 Diamond Dogs that drew game-opening assignments during the course of the season.
State's pitching corps features a pair of sophomore hurlers that represented State on the SEC All-Freshman teams the past two seasons. Both Nick Routt, a lefty from Silver Spring, Md., and right-hander Chris Stratton of Tupelo, Miss., paced the State staff in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts as Bulldog rookies.
The fall baseball roster includes 24 newcomers and the 19-player 2009-10 recruiting class that this week was ranked as the nation's 18th-best by Arizona-based Collegiate Baseball magazine.
All of Mississippi State's fall baseball practices are open to the public at Dudy Noble Field. A project to replace the seating and refurbish the concrete stadium grandstand has, however, forced a closure of the stadium grandstand to spectators during fall practice. Bleacher seating will be available along the leftfield and rightfield foul lines.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - An early kickoff time for the Mississippi State-Alcorn State football game has caused a shuffling of the MSU Baseball Alumni Weekend schedule October 2-3 at MSU.
Kickoff for the football game is now set for 11 a.m. (CT) for regional televising by FOX Sports Net.
Returning baseball alumni will now begin the weekend with a pre-game breakfast tailgate gathering from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. behind the right field fence at Dudy Noble Field. A post-game party/cookout will be held at the home of head coach John Cohen following the game. The alumni golf scramble, originally scheduled as a Saturday morning event, will now begin at 8 a.m. Sunday at the Mississippi State Golf Course.
Weekend participants are asked to RSVP by September 27 to Tyler Bratton (email@example.com) or call the MSU Baseball Office (662-325-3597).