A slumping MSU baseball squad, after being swept by the 4th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa this past weekend, will head into next weekend's battle with in-state rival Ole Miss at Dudy Noble Field needing a good showing to make the SEC Tournament.
To get into the SEC Tournament, the Diamond Dawgs need to win one more game than Arkansas (Auburn is at Arkansas this weekend) or sweep Ole Miss.
MSU, losers of their last 7 SEC games, continue to have problems coming up with the clutch hits, losing to Alabama 9-5, 9-7 and 11-4 in Tuscaloosa.
While MSU fans are not accustomed to MSU baseball coming up short so often in SEC play, the immediate and long-term future looks bright based on a combination of the current roster and the signees coming in next season.
MSU, short on right-hand hitting this season as evidenced by its 5-10 record against starting left-handed pitchers, has signed four highly touted right-handed hitters, including Brad Corley, a 6-2, 195-pound, power-hitting. strong-arm outfielder at Louisville's (KY) Pleasure Ridge Park High School, Joseph Hunter, a 6-1, 180-pound, outfielder (excellent defensive outfielder) at Germantown (TN) High School, Tyler Scarbrough, a 6-3, 180-pound, junior college All-American third baseman at Meridian Community College, and Ryan Harbuck, a 6-2, 225-pound, power-hitting first baseman at Hoover (AL) High School.
Plus, MSU is redshirting several good freshmen right-handed hitters in third baseman/pitcher Brett Cleveland (6-0, 225), catcher/third baseman Thomas Berkery (6-0, 185), and catcher Craig Tatum (6-0, 211). Tatum and Berkery both showed extremely strong arms behind the plate during fall practices. Tatum has been clocked in the low 90's. Berkery was probably the most impressive of all the freshmen hitters during the fall practices.
And don't forget excellent right-handed hitting Steve Gendron, a 6-3, 195-pound, sophomore outfielder/third baseman. Two other current right-handed hitters to watch are Winston Pearson, a 5-10, 190-pound, outfielder and J.B. Tucker, a 5-11, 192-pound, catcher/outfielder. Both redshirt freshmen have shown this year that they have some hitting ability.
The Intrigue Factor: One other signee that I haven't mentioned who could be a tremendous addition to the baseball team during the next four years is MSU football signee Justin Tyler. Tyler is a 6-4, 215-pound, quarterback signee who played at Jones County (Gray, GA) HS. A right-handed, power-hitting third baseman, Justin is considered one of the top 150 baseball players in the nation by Prospects Plus.
With the addition of those players, MSU obviously should be a much more effective hitting team against left-handers next season.
Plus, MSU should continue to perform well against right-handers with the return of several outstanding sophomore left-handed hitters; 3B/1B Brent Lewis (5-11, 203), DH/OF/1B Jon Mungle (6-1, 205), OF/DH Robby Goodson (6-2, 239), as well as 6-5, 230-pound, junior power-hitting first baseman Matthew Brinson (if he doesn't go pro after this season). MSU is also redshirting 6-2, 200-pound, freshman 1B/OF Brad Jones, a good hitter with potential power-hitting ability.
That doesn't include the left-handed hitting players that MSU signed this recruiting season such as Casey Hamilton, a 6-1, 180-pound, infielder at Boyd County High School (Catlettsburg, Ky.), highly touted Jeff Butts, a 6-0, 175-pound, outfielder at Daphne (AL) HS who was a member of the silver medal-winning 2001 USA Junior National Team, and Tyler Jones, 6-2, 170-pound, outfielder at Mobile's McGill-Toolen High School. Butts and Jones are both excellent hitters according to pro scouts that I have talked to.
Add to that mix several excellent underclassmen pitchers in sophomore LHP Paul Maholm, junior RHP Chris Young, draft-eligible sophomore RHP Jonathan Papelbon (if Chris and Jonathan don't go pro), RHP Robby Goodson, as well as three hard-throwing freshmen pitchers, Les Dykes (6-4, 195, LHP), Jamie Gant (6-1, 185, RHP), and Jacob Ociesa (6-5, 225, LHP), and one sophomore pitcher, Todd Nicholas (6-2, 208, LHP), all of whom are being redshirted this year.
MSU also signed three pitchers during this recruiting season, Brooks Dunn (6-1, 190, LHP, Vestavia Hills (AL) HS), Alan Johnson (6-1, 180, RHP, Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Ala) and Derek Atkins (6-2, 220, RHP, Co-Lin CC. Derek recently had Tommy John surgery.). All three throw their fastball in the mid to upper 80's. A pro baseball scout said he was very impressed with Dunn who he felt has a chance to be a very good college pitcher.
Then you also have veterans such as junior shortstop Matthew Maniscalco (a defensive gem), junior LHPs Steven Dowe, Joey Collums and Brian Owens, and junior RHPs Jacob Blakeney and draft-eligible sophomore Jeff Lacher.
Add those players to the mix and you have solid pitching (starting and relief), good right-handed hitters, good left-handed hitters, better than average power and good defense. Combined, those ingredients make for an excellent Ron Polk-coached baseball team the next few seasons.
TRACK AND FIELD
MSU track hosted the SEC Tournament this past weekend in front of record crowds. MSU's men performed well, scoring 35 points and placing 9th in the meet. The points were the most since 1989 when they scored 50 and placed 5th. The women scored 13 points and placed 12th in the meet. The points were the most the women have scored since 1995.
Several members of the track team will now compete in the NCAA Championship track meet later this month. It is very likely the MSU men, as a team, could wind up placing in the top 10 in the nation during the meet.
With very few seniors on the teams (10 of 55 roster spots were held by seniors this season), and several All-American signees, Garland Martin, and Jamel Ashley, already in the fold, look for the track team to be even better next year.
Martin won the NJCAA indoor 60-meter hurdles as a sophomore at Wallace State Community College. Ashley anchored the junior college national championship 4x100m relay team at Wallace State last season. He also finished second in the nation in both the 100 and 200 meters last season.
Here is what Coach Schmidt said about Martin and Ashley.
"Martin is one of the premier hurdlers in the country. He should score points in both the SECs and NCAAs. We are really pleased to have him. The coaches feel that Jamel is one of the best sprint prospects in the nation. He will definitely fill some spots where we lose people after this year."
Several other signees could also make an impact next year: Scottsboro (Ala.) High School star Lauren Johnson (13 individual state titles), and Cordova, Tenn., cross country star Michelle Kinney (won the state championship during her sophomore campaign and took the regional championship twice). One track athlete that hasn't been announced but will very likely sign with MSU is lady shot putter Nicola Wilson. Nicola has one of the top 10 shot put throws in high school this year. The rumor is MSU will annouce several other signees that will have an immediate impact on the team next season.
Track and Field has never looked brighter at Mississippi State.
MSU's golf teams concluded their seasons this past weekend at their respective NCAA events. The men's golf team, which has all 7 of its team members back next year (5 freshmen, 1 sophomore, 1 junior), should show great improvement next season. The women's team is almost in the same situation with 6 of its 7 team members returning next season. Their roster this season included 3 freshmen, 2 sophomores, 1 junior and 1 senior.
The softball team lost out at the SEC Tournament Saturday. They earned an invitation to the NCAA Regional-3 in Lafayette, Louisiana. MSU, seeded 5th, will face 4th ranked and second seeded Arizona State, a team they defeated earlier in the season. Six other SEC teams also earned bids.
Other softball news: Two softball team members, senior Kellie Wilkerson and sophomore Iyhia McMichael earned first-team All-SEC honors, while six members of the 2001 team won 2002 Academic All-SEC accolades this past Tuesday. The 6 raises MSU SEC-leading total to 48 over the five year period that the award has been given out. The players that earned the award were four current players -- Brooke Best, Jennifer Jessup, Jennifer Nelson and Kasey Whitehead -- as well as two former players -- Anna Joyce Lott and Robyn Schlagheck.
The men's tennis team advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round before losing to Auburn Sunday. With all but 1 of their players returning next season, including 8th ranked Romain Ambert, they should be even better next season.
I have added a second chat room to Gene's Page. It is exclusively for Gene's Page premium site members only. Unlike the other chat room, I will sign up each person. The chat room address will be given out later. Please contact me at my email address, email@example.com, if you are interested in my signing you up for the premium chat room.
The chat room also has a users manual I would advise each of you to read. To access it, click here.
It also has a link to a quick reference guide that quickly helps you understand what each link on the chat room does. Click here to access the reference guide.
I hope you enjoy the new chat room.
UPCOMING CALENDAR EVENTS
Mary Ann has added all of the spring and summer Bulldog Celebration and other MSU events to the calendar that she has been notified of. If you don't see yours on the calendar, please email her at the email address listed below.
If you have a MSU related event coming up and you don't see it listed on the Gene's Page calendar, email Mary Ann your information and she will post it on the calendar. We purchased the calendar for your use, so please don't hesitate using it. Mary Ann's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.
Have a great Bulldog week!
Archived Monday Morning Coffee Break Articles:
May 6, 2002
April 29, 2002
April 22, 2002
None for April 15, 2002
April 8, 2002
April 1, 2002
March 25, 2002
March 4, 2002
Feb. 25, 2002
Feb. 18, 2002
Feb. 11, 2002
Feb. 4, 2002
Jan. 28, 2002
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Dec. 31, 2001
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Dec. 10, 2001
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Nov. 26, 2001
Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 12, 2001
Nov. 7, 2001
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 email@example.com.