"It was a really big deal, and a big surprise (to have my number retired)," said Hunter Renfroe. "My parents came down and surprised me along with my host mom and coach. It was a great honor to meet Cal Ripken.
"This summer was a huge confidence booster for me, and that is what summer ball is for."
When asked about his summer success, Renfroe credits his approach and confidence.
"I have to make sure I have the right pitches to swing at, and that I do not swing at balls or curve balls in the dirt," he said. "I have to get the pitch count up and be a pitch selection type hitter."
Renfroe has put his summer accolades into the rearview mirror. He is now concerned with what is ahead of him and the Diamond Dogs.
"We just have to keep our head straight," he said. "We are a great team; we are just as good as we were last year, maybe better because of the older guys we have."
Mississippi State peaked last season during their SEC Tournament championship run. However, their glory was cut short in the Tallahassee Regional. Renfroe says the team will use last year to their advantage.
"We have to build off of the SEC (Tournament) win," he said. "We have to keep our heads up and get to Omaha."
Coming into this season the Bulldogs are replacing key players like first-round draft pick Chris Stratton, along with Caleb Reed, Nick Routt and Brent Brownlee. Renfroe does not expect a drop off in the pitching department.
"Our pitching staff is going to be a plus," he said. "Sixteen guys throw over 90 mph; that is unheard of. We have some young guys that will contribute and some older guys like Kendall (Graveman) and Ben (Bracewell) that will do a heck of a job in the starting rotation."
Even with senior outfielder Brent Brownlee departing to pursue a coaching career, the Bulldog outfield gained a lot of experience last season due to injuries.
"I think (our depth in the outfield) is a great thing," said Renfroe. "We had guys like C.T. (Bradford) and (Taylor) Stark get injured in key situations, and we had to bring Fully (Tyler Fullerton) from spring break for Southeastern (LA) and start the game. He did great."
While the depth and talent on this year's team are strengths of this year's team, Renfroe also believes leadership is another strong area from top to bottom.
"I believe that the juniors and seniors we have this year will step up, but you can't just have juniors and seniors, you have to have the whole team being leaders," said the talented junior.
Renfroe and his teammates are currently preparing for the upcoming 2013 season by honing their skills in the fall scrimmages.