For Coach John Cohen’s club there is much more than a rivalry to play out this weekend in Oxford. The Bulldogs are tied for 11th in the overall SEC standings, with Alabama which owns the head-to-head tiebreak as of now. Even breaking it today leaves Mississippi State in the last available slot for the SEC Tournament.
The regular season ends with a trip to Tennessee which as of today is along with Georgia behind the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide. So however much beating the in-state rival means emotionally, there’s a larger motivation for MSU.
“We have six games left and our kids know what’s at stake every time we go out there. I think they’re looking forward to this opportunity.”
The opportunity Thursday is a rematch of last Tuesday’s meeting in Pearl, when the Rebels rolled to a 11-1 victory. Neither squad used its primary pitchers of course, so the comparison isn’t entirely exact. If anything these games which do count in SEC play have a different intensity level that again isn’t about rivalry. Where State is scrambling to shore up a SEC Tourney position, Ole Miss needs to build more NCAA eligibility margin before Hoover.
Regardless, “They’re a really good club,” Cohen said. “And I think in some way our clubs are similar. Both clubs have had their ups and downs this year, certainly they’ve played a little bit better than we have in the conference. Ole Miss is a difficult place to play, they have a really nice atmosphere there. And our kids are really excited about going there.”
Today’s interview with Cohen follows.