Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State freshman pitcher Kale Breaux shares his thoughts about returning to the Bayou State this weekend.

Growing up in Sulphur, Louisiana, left hander Kale Breaux imagined what it would be like to take the mound at LSU's Alex Box Stadium. Chances are, those youthful daydreams will become a reality this weekend as the former Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year toes the rubber for the visiting Mississippi State Bulldogs rather than the home state Tigers.

The Bulldogs enter the weekend tied for third place in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division. The second half of the league slate begins this weekend as the race to Hoover and beyond grows more interesting.

The Mississippi State pitching staff has seen some solid contributions from several newcomers including the talented southpaw from southwest Louisiana. The 5-11, 175 pounder reports that he entered his freshman season prepared for whatever the Bulldog coaching staff asked of him.

"I feel like the coaches believe in me," Breaux said. "They seem to trust me late in ball games. Not everything has gone right for me, but it's a learning experience. I am really more focused on the process than the outcome right now.

"Right now, the biggest thing that keeps me going is knowing that my coaches and teammates believe in me."

The roots of trust really took root when Breaux was summoned to the mound to close out a tight game on the road at Southern California. With the tying and winning runs both aboard, Breaux was able to secure a Mississippi State victory recording the last Trojan out on a comebacker to the mound.

"I definitely gained a lot of confidence from that," Breaux shared. "Every ball game is different and every situation is different, but I just go out there and try to spin the breakers early in the count. I am not a fastball or blow by fastball kind of guy, so I have to throw the change-up, spin breakers and just be the crafty lefty."

Coach Wes Johnson has several pieces to work with in the Bulldog bullpen. In some situations, the first year Bulldog assistant coach will elect to eat up innings with a long reliever. In other situations, the pitching guru will mix and match.

"Sometimes it's just about match-ups," Breaux said of the Bulldogs' late game strategy. "I always try to go as long as I can after I get my guy. I want to do all I can to help the team win. If that means coming in to throw a few innings or just face one batter, then I want to do my job."

The job site this weekend will be in Baton Rouge on a campus that Breaux once expected to call home. Seeing the familiar surroundings and faces of the Pelican State is something the Bulldog freshman is looking forward to.

"You know it's LSU and they have a great tradition," Breaux said. "I was committed to those guys at one point, but I am really just excited to see my family down there. It would be great to be able to play in front of a bunch of my friends and family."

The good folks from Breaux's home base will not be the only ones who experience a reunion of sorts. Many of the current LSU Tiger players have either played with or against the personable Breaux.

"I probably know over 50% of the guys on the LSU roster," Breaux said. "I know a lot of guys on their team. In fact, my two best friends Beau and Bryce Jordan, play for LSU. It would be great to play against (Antoine) Duplantis again. He is up for SEC freshman of the year with Jake Mangum. It should be a fun weekend."

Knowing some of the Tigers allows for Breaux to have an advance scouting report. At the same time, those friendly Tigers know a thing or two about how their friend in Maroon likes to pitch.

"I know what pitches they like and they know what I like to throw," Breaux said with a grin. "It's going to be a good match-up. I am going to try to help our guys with the scouting report, but our coaches always do a great job with that. Our scouting report is always on point."

Despite the competitive nature of the weekend, Breaux hopes to enjoy his time in his home state. A win in an important road series would certainly add to that enjoyment.

"It's going to be awesome." Breaux said. "I can't wait to see my grandparents and people I haven't seen in a while. I get to see my parents when they come up here to watch ball games. I will get to see my girlfriend this weekend and her mom and dad.

"I hope they all get to see me pitch this weekend and it's a great weekend. The main thing is that we're going down there to win some games and that's what I am going to focus on the most."

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