JUNIOR PITCHER TODD DOOLITTLE
Talk about your game today.
"Everytime I have thrown, I have gone longer and longer. I wanted to finish the game out, but Brooks Dunn did a great job. We had enough key hits to win."
What was working for you today?
"My fastball had a little velocity on it and I was getting it past them. I wasn't getting on top with my curveball because the mound is a little flat, but I was able to command my fastball in and out."
Winning 6 out of the last 7 is something this team can build on even if it doesn't get selected to play in a regional.
"Definitely. You couldn't ask for more, although I wish this had happened earlier in the season because we would then be heading to the SEC Tournament."
Have you thrown 130 pitches before?
"Not this year. I've thrown that number in community college and in high school for sure."
Coach Polk pulled you after you had thrown 130 pitches. Do you feel that it was time for you to come out?
"I think I still had a little left, but I didn't have much bite on my curveball. I think I could have finished it out, but I'm glad they were able to get the win."
Based on your stats, it looks like you improved each of your SEC starts. Did it feel to you like you improved each game?
"Oh yes, definitely. I built on each game and got in shape by doing the routine a started does."
SENIOR SHORTSTOP STEVE GENDRON
Do you feel, with this victory, that you guys will get a regional bid?
"You never know. Florida, who was in 9th place last year, got in and Vanderbilt, who made the SEC Tournament, didn't get in. I don't know if the NCAA will take nine SEC teams because it will be a stretch if they do but we hope they do."
Will it be tough just waiting to see what happens with next Monday's selection show?
"We are having a meeting around noon tomorrow. Coach Polk said if we win, he didn't really know what he will do. If we had lost, he said he was going to let everybody go home. I think I am just going to hang out in Starkville or go to Hattiesburg with Jeff Lacher."
You moved into the top 10 in hits in the SEC this weekend. How do you feel about that?
"I am proud that I'm up there because there are some great names on the list. I've been consistent for four years, so I guess that gets you 300 hits. Down the road, it will probably mean a lot more to me than it does now, but I'm proud that I'm on the list."
SOPHOMORE CATCHER CRAIG TATUM
What was the difference this Sunday compared to the past four Sundays when you lost?
"Pitching has been the thing that has been killing us on Sundays, but (Todd Doolittle) came out and shut them down. We also got some key hits when we needed."
Talk about how well the offense has performed in May.
"I think we have been hitting the ball pretty good since the 2nd or 3rd week of the season, but we just turned it on toward the end of the season."
Now, you guys just sit and wait to see if you are selected to play in a regional.
"It is not going to be a fun week because all we can do is sit and wait. We are only 6 and 4 in our last 10 games and it would have helped if we had been 7 and 3 or 8 and 2. But we are 12 games over .500, we have beaten some good teams, our pitching has thrown well the last couple of weekends and we have been hitting the ball. Maybe if we get in we could be a sleeper and surprise some people."
MSU PITCHING COACH DARON SCHOENROCK
As a pitching coach, what have you thought of Doolittle's progress as an SEC starter?
"I think he got a little more comfortable as he started each game, because we worked him out of the pen early in the year. The second half of the year we popped him into the rotation, which is what he did in junior college. Also, what has happened is his fastball has gained a little more life and he has been able to hold his velocity a little bit longer. We used his breaking ball and the soft stuff to set up the hitters. His fastball is sneaky on the hitters."
What made him so good today?
"What he did today that was so good was even when he was behind in the count to the hitters, he got a lot of guys out on 3-1, 3-2 counts. He came back and made some pitches in the strikezone. He did a good job of pounding the zone on a hot day."
What will he do this summer?
"He is going to go to school and take some classes this summer. He'll get back in the weightroom. He has thrown enough innings."
With your signees and the losing just one pitcher, you will have a lot of arms returning.
"Next fall with be another battle. We also have four or five guys that we redshirted and they are all going to pitch this summer. I'm anxious to see how all these guys do when they show up next fall."
What are your plans for Brad Corley next season?
"We are going to get him more innings next season. We are going to talk to the USA team if he happens to make that team and let them know that we want to get him on the mound in the trials. If he goes to the Cape Cod league, we are going to request the same thing."
How much does it help the coaching staff to not only see the progress this team made the last two weekends but also see the tangible evidence with wins?
"What they did was keep the same preparation. That is the way Coach Polk has always done things. We didn't change anything or panic. We just kept preparing and practicing like we always do. Our defense has also been good these last couple of weeks. Plus, the last 6 or 7 games, we finally got a few breaks here and there."
Have you kept up with your pitching signees to see how they are doing?
"Yes, we have checked in with them from time to time. I think all of them will pitch this summer with the exception of Paul Faulkenberry. I think he may slow it down a little bit and build some strength back up. (John) Lolar will pitch with the Dulins team out of Memphis and Mitch Moreland will pitch one more summer in American Legion ball (with the Tupelo 49ers)."
When you talked to them did they tell you what they have heard about their Major League Baseball Draft status?
"They are all possible draftees, but I think we are going to get them in school."
MSU HEAD COACH RON POLK
The defense of the team has really gotten better the last two weekends.
"I don't think we were challenged this weekend as much as we were last weekend against Arkansas. Gendron made a couple of tough plays and Berkery made a really tough play but we didn't get the call at first base."
You bring back a lot of players next year from this team.
"We will get Jon Mungle back next year. Losing him really hurt us. We'll have Bunky Kateon and Michael Rutledge next year after losing them to injuries this year. Todd Doolittle is a good returner for next year. I think the pitchers that struggled this year will pitch in the fall and get better. We have to keep Craig Tatum. That is a key in the draft. I've talked to him and he understands that my blessings are with him, but, at the same time, I hope he will come back. If now, we hope to have Ed Easley, the catcher (signee) from Olive Branch (High School), here next year. If we do, then, starting next year, it could be a very good real run. We also signed 6 others that we feel like can help us in a very short period of time."
What is the team schedule for the coming week?
"I will meet with the team at Noon Monday. I may release them after we meet. I've already met with nine of them this weekend. That leaves me 16 to meet with Monday. It is kind of a mini exit meeting with each one of them. If I release them like Florida did last year, I'll have them watch (the NCAA Regional selection show) and if we are selected, then they will get back here."
What do you think your chances are of being selected for a regional?
"I think we have a chance. A lot depends on what happens around the country. We don't need too many upsets. Our RPI was 30 if Boyd Nation was right. It could well go down or we might go down to 35.
"But, really, I need to wait until I talk to (NCAA selection committee member Skip Bertman) and a couple of other people on the committee to get a feel about what they think. They are probably going to say that they put (non-SEC Tournament participant) Florida in the (NCAA) tournament and they could do the same thing for us."
If you do get selected, is there any benefit to not playing in the SEC Tournament?
"You won't get any of your players injured, but I would rather be in the SEC Tournament. That would almost assure us of being in the regional and it would give us a chance to keep the pitchers sharp."
Do you think, since this is a Baseball Committee and not actually the NCAA, do you think, because you are so well-respected by baseball people that that gives your team a better chance of getting in?
"(Former MSU AD) Charlie Carr is a friend of mine. Skip Bertman is a good friend. But I don't know who the rest of the members are."
Two years ago, you were on the bubble and didn't make the NCAA Regionals. Do you think this year's team is better than that team?
"That year they picked Washington over us and they had an RPI of 57 and we were something like 32. But, I didn't think we were a great ballclub back then and I think this team is better than that one."
With MSU, Auburn and Alabama out of the SEC Tournament, how do you think it will be received in Hoover, Alabama this year?
"Geographically, it will hurt because you have the two flagship universities out. Plus, we are like a suburb of Birmingham. But, it will be good for Vandy and Arkansas and other teams that don't get in it every year."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.