Coach Polk and Jeff Butts Talked About Their Win

On a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, before 805 fans at Dudy Noble Field, Mississippi State defeated Mississippi Valley State 14-7 behind the three-hit, four-RBI performance of junior outfielder Jeff Butts.

Hitting stars - Jeff Butts 3-for-5 with 4 RBI; Joseph Hunter 3-for-5 with 3 RBI. Brad Corley, Brad Jones and Brian LaNinfa all had two hits apiece.

Pitching stars - Winning pitcher Brooks Dunn allowed no runs on 2 hits and 1 walk in 4 innings of work. He struck out 4. Brett Cleveland threw 1 inning, allowing no runs or hits and striking out 1. Mike Valentine threw the final inning, allowing no runs on one-hit and one-strikeout.

Jeff Butts

Although you guys didn't really hit the ball that well the first game, you have really come on the last two games.
"The first game we were kind of anxious and after that we kind of settled down and everybody started getting into a little bit of a rhythm."

It was really cold today, but you still hit the ball well.
"The cold bothered me a little bit, especially during BP (batting practice), but it was one of those days that you have to go out and battle and try and hit the ball hard. I was just fortunate enough to do that today."

Coach Ron Polk

You hit the ball well today. In fact, this is the second game in a row where your team hit the ball really well.
"The competition level is going to pick up this weekend. Austin Peay is a great ballclub, from what we hear. The won their conference last year. And Kansas, two years ago, went to Baton Rouge and swept (LSU) to open up the season. And they have between 15 and 16 games under their belts. So, I'm glad that we swung the bat well."

What are your team's plans for Wednesday and Thursday?
"We are going to play a 9 or 10 inning scrimmage game tomorrow, which I normally don't do once we start the season, but we still have a couple of questions to decide in regard to redshirting our pitchers. Then, we will practice Thursday and get ready for an interesting and exciting Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

It was good to see Brett Cleveland back on the mound after injuring his knee a few months ago.
"Brett has recovered tremendously. I never dreamed that he would be pitching the first week of the season. He is just four months away from knee surgery. He tore his ACL when he stepped out of his shower. He has worked his tail off and has lost some weight. It looks cumbersome with the knee brace, but it doesn't seem to bother him."

You played Ed Easley at catcher against Eastern Illinois and third base against Mississippi Valley. Is that how you are going to use him this year?
"We have (Thomas) Berkery, (Michael) Rutledge and Easley (at third or catcher). We can mix and match with them. All three of them are going to play a lot. And, if Jeffery Rea goes down (due to an injury), then Berkery can go to second. If Kateon goes down, Rutledge can go to short. Due to that, I have to keep those guys going. We don't have a heck of a lot of depth in the infield, but by having two catchers that can play third and one that can play second, that really helps."

Who are your starting pitchers for this weekend's games?
"AJ (Alan Johnson) on Friday, (Todd) Doolittle and (Josh) Johnson."

Josh Johnson has had three straight outings, including two scrimmages, where he had one bad inning each game. Are you concerned about that?
"He's still young. He just overthrows sometimes and gets the ball up. He'll be alright."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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