Dogs Host Kansas, Austin Peay in 2005 NBC Classic

There's still over five months more to wait before a man in a mask shouts 'play ball' from behind the Dudy Noble Field plate. Then again, it's never too early to make plans for another baseball season at Mississippi State.

The 2005 Diamond Dog schedule is yet to be published, but several events and dates of special interest have been finalized. Starting with, naturally, the starting weekend. State opens the season slate on the last weekend of February by hosting Eastern Illinois for a three-game set. The dates are Feb. 25-26-27, the times are TBA but obviously will be in winter daylight hours.

The National Bank of Commerce Classic is back for '05, and this fourth edition will be played on March 4-5-6. This time the field features a couple of new faces in Kansas and Austin Peay. The Bulldogs and Jayhawks have only met once on a baseball field, in 1968 in Riverside, Calif. Not only is this Kansas' first trip to Dudy Noble Field, but the first time for any major-sport team from the school to visit Starkville. This will also be the first recorded baseball game of any sort between Austin Peay and MSU.

State has a 4-6-1 record through four NBC Classics. Last year the Classic was a three-game series with Southern California played in mid-March; for 2005 it returns to the more typical three-team, round-robin format.

For '05 the academic semester features an unusually early spring break, and Coach Ron Polk is taking advantage by taking a road trip. The Bulldogs will play a three-game series at Arizona on March 11-13, in a matchup of the nation's two 'power' baseball conferences. The Pac-10 Wildcats are tentatively set to return the series with a trip to Starkville in 2006.

Like last season's set with Southern Cal, this series is scheduled for the weekend prior to the start of SEC season. And State is able to play this high-profile interleague matchup on the road when the campus is empty for spring break.

Looking further ahead, in '05 the Bulldogs will host Vanderbilt, Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, and LSU for SEC weekends; and play series at SEC West rivals Mississippi and Arkansas with trips to East foes Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia. South Carolina rotated off the SEC slate for State last year with Tennessee coming on.

Also, there are three non-conference games set for Jackson's Smith-Wills Stadium. Besides the annual Mayors Trophy game with Mississippi, the stadium has set up 'road' games for State in friendly settings with Samford and Birmingham-Southern.

Fall baseball practices at State begin September 6.


David Murray is the Editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. You can contact him by email at dawgbite@ebicom.net.

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