Junior starting pitcher Alan Johnson
You looked like you felt pretty good today after being off for a while.
"It was good to be back. I got a week off and let my arm rest. I came back today and felt like the old arm from last year. Hopefully, the rest of the season will go like today did."
Were you able to do much bullpen work this past week?
"Yeah, I have been on a regular throwing program. They just gave me a weekend off to help me get my arm strength back."
This was a very well-played series with Southern Cal.
"It was a great series. I know our pitching did extremely well. Sometimes you expect more hitting than happened this weekend, but we've scored runs all year. I know pitching has off-days sometimes, so I know hitters do too."
This was a pretty good test the weekend prior to the SEC weekends.
"I'm thrilled that USC came in and played us. They have a great team and gave us great competition. I know when we go to LSU it is going to be tough."
What made their pitching so effective?
"Friday night, they threw a guy that was throwing low to mid-90's and he was spotting up real well. He had real good deception. The guy yesterday was also very effective and spotted up real well. He used his off-speed pitches and we didn't have that many lefties in the lineup."
Sophomore catcher Craig Tatum
What made their pitching so effective this weekend?
"The pitcher they threw on Friday night could beat almost anybody in the SEC. He doesn't show any emotions and comes right after you. I don't know if there is any pitcher besides (Vandy's) Sowers that is any better than him (in the SEC). (Saturday) the guy wasn't throwing more than 78 (miles per hour). It's kind of hard to wait back on someone throwing that slow. Everybody wanted us to go to the opposite field, but, when a guy is throwing that slow, it is hard to wait that long. Today, I thought the guy threw hard enough but was leaving a lot right down the middle. His slider wasn't very good. He didn't throw as many changeups, thank goodness.
"They didn't hit us hard all weekend, really. They got four chink runs and a balk on Friday. Yesterday, they got it off a little chink hit into left. Yesterday, we wouldn't have won anyway since we didn't score."
The MSU pitching was good. It was the hitting that didn't really come through Friday and Saturday.
"We left a lot of runners on the first two days. They scored almost all of their runs with two outs both days."
You threw out a couple of runners today. That has to make you feel good.
"Our pitchers, except for Lacher, are very quick to the plate. If they give me a chance, I think I have a chance to throw the runners out. Most of the time, they weren't straight stealing; they were just hitting and running. They weren't trying to get a great lead, so I had a better chance to throw them out."
They play a lot of small ball. In the SEC who would you compare them to?
"Probably Tennessee. They have some good hitters. The catcher is a good hitter and the three-hole hitter is a good hitter. Other than that, they got some chink hits."
Freshman relief pitcher Josh Johnson
All the pitchers have now had a chance to pitch a couple of times. Do you feel you are all comfortable with where you are pitching?
"Yes sir, we are kind of getting more in our roles, now. Coach Rock still doesn't know exactly what he is going to do with each one of the guys. He is doing some experimenting."
Are you feeling comfortable enough to go in anytime during SEC games?
"Yes sir, I'm feeling comfortable, although, when I get out there, I'm still a little jittery because it is a lot bigger situation than Caledonia High School (laugh). After the first one or two batters, and I get off to a good start, I'm good to go. I'm sure, as the season goes on, I'll get more settled in."
Is playing Southern Cal perfect preparation for the upcoming SEC season, which starts next weekend?
"Yes sir, it does. Southern Cal is going to be very successful. They have played some good ballclubs. Schools like Stanford, schools that seem to appear in the College World Series every year. Their record doesn't indicate how good they really are."
Sophomore outfielder Joseph Hunter
Talk about today's game.
"We did a better job of hitting the ball today. Our main goal today was to get runners in. We had been leaving a lot of runners on base the last couple of games. Today, we got on the board quick, which is important against a good-hitting team like USC. Our pitching has done well all week."
It seemed like Brad Jones' triple really got the fans fired up.
"It is nice to get the fans behind you. It gives you a nice pick-me-up."
This kind of competition probably gave you the perfect competition for the upcoming SEC season.
"Yeah, they are an extremely good team. We talked about them being a good team in the SEC. I think playing them will go a long way toward preparing us for Tennessee and the rest of the SEC weekends.
"But I really think we should have probably won all three games. Our pitchers did a good enough job. If we had hit the ball like we should have, we could have won all three."
Have you faced many pitchers as good as their Friday night starter, Ian Kennedy?
"No. Coach Polk told us they call him the Iceman because he shows no emotions. He reminded me a lot of Mark Pryor because he is so loose and fluid with his arm and hides the ball so well. From what I have heard, he was (throwing) in the mid-90's and he doesn't even look like he is throwing hard."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.