Frazier Going With The Flow

It's taken three months of work to get here, and Adam Frazier is pleased with the results. No, not of his batting average, even if it is best on the Bulldog team. It's the hair. More specifically, the mul…no, don't use that title. "It's my flow!" the shortstop corrects. "I call it flow!"

By whatever label, the locks are quite impressive flaring (or flowing) out from under the cap. Not styled exactly, as per say a Jeff Brantley in his hirsute prime. But Frazier would fit right in with an 80s euro-pop band. Or as a backup for Billy Ray Cyrus in the 90s. Fortunately few teammates have any clue what that means.

Nor, Frazier said, do they give grief on the topic. "Nah, everybody admires my flow! So not too much. The coaches might get on to me a little bit, but not too bad." Said staff has had plenty of time to get accustomed to the sophomore's look since the last haircut. Which was when, by the way?

"I don't know, I haven't cut my hair and I don't plan on it too soon. I don't know when it was, probably the first week or two of the season, I'd say."

Of course Frazier could be stuffing a mohawk under that cap and no Bulldog-body would care. Not as long as the kid is swatting the ball around at his squad-best .376 clip. Frazier has hit safely in 53 of the team's 62 games this year, including all six dates last week at the SEC Tournament. There, his 12-of-23 performance against league pitching put Frazier on center-stage as Most Valuable Player.

But this torrid stretch began before Hoover; in his dozen-game hitting streak since May 13 he has been 23-of-44. And in eight of those games he had two or more safeties. So what got into the sophomore starting three weeks ago?

"I haven't changed a thing. I'm just trying to hit the fastball early in the count, and not to miss the pitch they give me to hit. I've just been feeling comfortable at the plate lately and trying to put my best swing every at-bat."

Of course the entire Bulldog order takes that sort of approach to the plate. Frazier simply does it better than anyone here, and for that matter than most of his SEC peers. It is equally fact Frazier's efficiency stands out all the more at Mississippi State, what with season-long offensive issues. The shortstop makes no bones about what has brought the Bulldogs this far, and should carry them on into post-season play. A pitching staff which posted a collective ERA of four-plus in the first five SEC series, took over in the next five with a sub-2.00 and 11-4 record.

Meanwhile Bulldog batting was just .211 in the second-SEC-half. Then again, as Frazier reminds, sheer numbers don't matter much when just a couple of well-timed hits score all the runs needed for MSU moundsmen to work with. Besides, in that same second-half opponents combined to hit…why, .211 too.

"I'm sure when they get held to three or four hits too that has to be frustrating! I'm sure it would make anybody mad," Frazier agreed. "But I credit it to our pitching staff, we haven't done a lot until now to help them out." That was until knocking down 14 hits in a romp over Kentucky, then the nine more in thumping Arkansas. Those showings boosted squad confidence that they could deliver in the clutch at tournament time, and at Regions Park they did.

For day after day after day, at that. Not a big guy already, playing every inning of six-straight games including one electric extra frame will take a toll. It showed at Monday's weigh-in, Frazier reported. "I lost just a few pounds. Yeah, when I lose it's not good." But what Frazier can't figure is how catcher Mitch Slauter got through 55 innings and 842 pitches caught with loss of just one pound.

Wherever and whenever this sophomore season ends, Frazier will have lots of summer time to keep swinging. But instead of going to Harwich in the Cape Cod League as planned, State's standout just received a different destination. He is selected for the Team USA roster, to be coached by Tennessee's Dave Serrano. The national team has twenty scheduled games in a 30-day period, including a five-date series with the Cuban national team in Havanna and another week In Haarlem, the Netherlands.

"I was kind of at a loss for words when they told me that, I wasn't expecting it. I just can't wait to be representing our country. It's kind of a dream come true. Especially when you can play for your country you're ready to go. I'm looking forward to it for sure, I was excited to go to the Cape until that."

Before that of course is State's weekend business in Tallahassee. No active Bulldog has played at Dick Howser Stadium in a college game…but Frazier has been here before. "I kind of grew up a Florida State fan when I was little," the Bishop, Ga., native said. "They recruited me a little bit out of high school. I went there for a camp in high school so I kind of know what it's like. It's a real nice surface. But an infield is an infield and you've got to expect the unexpected."

Such as last week. And peaking of excitement… The look on Frazier's face after his spectacular fielding play against Arkansas in the SEC Tourney opener was seen on sets around the country. With State leading 3-1 in the seventh Frazier went far behind second base for a wildly-scooting ground ball, adjusting to the shifts in direction caused by a rough playing surface. He not only got to the ball but, with no time to throw, underhand-flipped with the glove to second sacker Matthew Britton for one force, then a relay and double-play.

The unexpected part? Regions Park had some quick turf-replacements for the baseball tournament after a previous soccer event, and it showed. That highlight-play required Frazier to track a ball taking some subtle shifts en route through divots and humps.

"The grass was kind of choppy but the dirt was good. They did a good job keeping it wet all week. Balls up the middle, it was kind of tough reading those." Still Frazier read them and turned them, including those ninth-inning grounders sent his way for a double-play first and then the force at second base to clinch State's championship.

Plays like that are also part of the fun Bulldogs have been having the last seven weeks, and contributed to 68 double-plays. Just part of it, though; winning has brought out the kid in these, well, kids.

"We have a lot of fun. We just try to stay loose and not worry about too much. Just hang out with each other not really think about baseball too much unless we're on the field. The locker room and the bus, it's everybody cracking jokes with each other. So we have a good time."

A good time with just about everything, including hair styles. That is if the close-cropped cuts worn by guys like catcher Mitch Slauter (tearing that mask off all the time tends to limit length) can be called a ‘style'. In fact, Frazier doesn't believe his is most mod mop on this roster. "Nick Ammirati has got a little Italian flow going on," he points out. Still it is Frazier's flopping follicles that get the most air time as he runs around the field and bases. Which raises the question, might all that hair be a, ummm, drag on things?

"It probably does. I've been thinking I've been running kind of slow lately. So it might be time to get it cut, we'll see."

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