Quotes from the Pre-Regional Press Conference
COACH STEVE PETERSON
"The last third of the season we got everybody back (from injuries). We made some changes on our pitching staff. Chad (Cooper), at the start of the season, was our starting shortstop but he got hurt. We eventually moved him to left field and right field and second base. The last third of the season was how we thought, as coaches, how it was going to be with this team. I think we are playing our best ball now."
How much confidence did the 4 wins in the conference tournament give your team?
"I think all the confidence in the world. Going into the tournament, I sat them down and told there was there was no at-large, there is no opportunity to be above the team and have something happen. We had to win four games. We were the best playing team in the Sunbelt Conference Tournament. I'm not saying we were the best team, just the best playing team. That's why we won it."
Talk about the Sunbelt Conference and how it stacks up nationally.
"The Sunbelt, going into this season, was rated 5th or 6th, it was a top 10 conference. Obviously, the Southeastern Conference, the ACC, Conference-USA, the PAC -10 were all rated higher than us. South Alabama is probably the premier program (in the league). Louisiana-Lafayette has a great following and a great program. They are the only program in the league to get to College World Series, except for New Orleans. But New Orleans wasn't in the league when they went there. It is a very balanced league and has very good players."
Do you plan on starting Steve Kline in the first game?
"Yes. Steve is a local product. He is from Murfreesboro. He is a redshirt sophomore. He didn't get to pitch last year. He was used mostly in relief his freshman year. The best way to describe him is he is a Tommy Glavine type pitcher who has to keep the ball down, change speeds. He is not overpowering. He is like a lot of college left handed pitchers. He can give you a very comfortable 0-for-4."
Do you feel more comfortable going to your bullpen now than you did during the early part of the season?
"Oh yeah, I told the pitching staff, probably half way through the season, that if we were going to have any success, it would have to come from middle relief. I'm not one that says in February that you are my closer, you are this or you are that. It kind of evolves. Chase (Swing) has evolved into being the last pitcher out of the pen."
What do you think is the key to the 20-7 run that you are currently on?
"When I moved to left field, it seemed like the pitching staff started to work real well and the defense started working real well. During the Sunbelt tournament, everybody kicked it into another gear."
Did it help to get adjusted to this atmosphere by going through the host team in the Sunbelt tournament?
"Yeah, Lafayette is a very tough team to beat on their home field. I think that will help a lot but it will probably be four times worse here. But I think we will step up. I think we play better against better teams and better atmosphere."
Talk about adjusting to the closer's role in the bullpen.
"I started in middle relief and once we started the Sunbelt conference, I came in with save opportunities and got the saves. As the season progressed, I developed into that role."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.