Overall, what are your impressions of your hitters after watching the games and reviewing the game videos?
"I thought we had some great at-bats. But one thing I am disappointed in is the fact that we didn't do a good job of getting runners in from third with less than two outs. Even in saying that, I still thought our guys competed their tails off. I couldn't be more prouder of them. Even in the loss I was proud of our guys because they put themselves in the position to win. You lose game one in a marathon on a cold day and you come back and win game two. You then leave the weekend thinking that our guys really competed and really grinded it out.
"I love our team. I love our talent. We probably have more talent than we have ever had since we have been here. They just haven't played a lot of baseball games. They just need to play and get better everyday."
Of the lineup, who is set at their position and who is still being looked at for a regular position?
"Obviously, C.T. (Bradford) and Brent (Brownlee) are going to be out there. I think Mitch Slauter has solidified himself behind the plate. I think the infield is set with (Matthew) Britton, (Adam) Frazier, (Daryl) Norris and (Wes) Rea are set. I wouldn't say they are set in stone because there are a lot of guys on their heels that are hungry, too.
"There are also a lot of guys that we would have liked to have played last weekend. But I like what we had out there, so I think you will see the same thing this weekend. I think you will see (Nick) Ammirati catch some this weekend. I also think that Taylor (Stark) and Hunter (Renfroe) bring different strengths to the table and I feel good about both of them."
Did Trey Porter surprise you how well he hit?
"He didn't surprise me because we saw that in the fall (practices) and we have seen it in the spring (practices). He is a kid who is living his dream, a dream a lot of other kids in Mississippi have. He is a walk-on who just wanted a chance. He feels like he is on life support everyday he comes out here. He thinks he may get cut everyday he's out there. He's not, but he still just outworks everybody else in the weight room, on the field. The guy hits two home runs last weekend and he comes to batting practice and is hitting every ball up the middle. He's not trying to hit home runs. Those are the kind of kids you pull for. He wanted the chance and he's making the most of it."
He is a walk-on. He had one offer, from Belhaven. How did a guy like that get overlooked by all but Mississippi State?
"In recruiting, a lot of it is timing. I went down to see a hitter and a pitcher on another team that just happened to be playing Porter's team. I go down there to watch a double-header and Trey Porter goes off. And you are sitting there going wow! This guy didn't have any offers and the next thing is I'm talking to him and he tells me just give him a shot. All he wanted was a shot and that's what we gave him."
What are your thoughts about true freshman Matthew Britton?
"I just told somebody that, and I don't want to put pressure on him, he is going to play this game a long time. He has plus-speed, a plus-arm, plus-range and he can hit. And he is a hard worker."
Do you plan on playing Frazier and Britton at both second base and shortstop?
"They are both comfortable at either short or second. And I think you can them at either-or, you can flip a coin. They have their own strengths at either position."
Mitch Slauter and Wes Rea are two others that were playing for the first time.
"I think one of the things that stands out about Slauter is not just way he swung the bat and caught but the way he worked our pitchers and how well he worked with Coach Thompson. This was his first real game and I thought he and Coach Thompson really worked well together. And he handled our pitchers tremendously well. I also think he handled the umpires tremendously well, too. Those are things that people don't see. I thought he was tremendous in the way he communicated with the umpires. The guy caught 22 innings and he scores the winning run and he's going crazy. (He catches) the last strikeout the game and he's going nuts. He's still got energy. He plays at a high level and I think our team feeds off of that.
"Wes Rea squared up a few balls that I thought had a chance to get out of the park. He's got tremendous power, but he also knows his strikezone. He dissects pitches. He's not just a big, strong guy who stands up there and swings as hard as he can. He works at it. Coach (Nick) Mingione has worked hard with him at first base. And he showed how well he handles his hands and moves his feet. You saw why he had so many offers to play offensive line. He's a big kid who is also a good athlete."
This coming weekend, who else do you expect to play other than the ones you played this past weekend?
"I think you will see Nick Ammirati behind the plate. Hopefully, you will see Sam Frost play some. You really want to get all of the guys some playing time. So, hopefully, you will. We have four games this weekend instead of three.
"One of my mentors had a saying that the cream will rise to the top. And it always does. The more guys you play, sooner or later some guys start separating themselves."
Tournament Schedule This Weekend:
Friday, February 24
Saturday, February 25
Sunday, February 26
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.