Veteran Jeff Butts Helps Team Stay On Course

Veteran Mississippi State outfielder Jeff Butts has seen it all during his four-year career at State. Because of that, he understands the highs and lows of the game of baseball.

The Bulldogs started off the season with 18 straight wins and moved up to number 1 in the national rankings. Then, they hit a slump where they lost 8 of 15.

"You know you aren't going to go undefeated the entire season," said Jeff Butts. "Coach Polk tells us all the time that there is never an easy game and that every game will be a battle. You know you will go through a spell or hit a little slide. That's just the way baseball is. You can't play perfect baseball the whole year."

As one of the seniors on the team, what did he tell the other players to help keep their confidence up during those 15 games?

"When you go through spells like that, you just hope that it won't last long. You make some adjustments and get out of it quick. We have a veteran team, so we tell everybody keep playing .... keep working and keep playing." said the lifetime .292 hitter coming into the season. "The good thing about baseball is you don't have to sit around for a week or four or five days before you play. You get to go out the next day and play."

Despite the recent losses, the team's record is still a very respectable 28-9 which has allowed the Bulldogs to be ranked 15th in the nation. And it also gives them the opportunity to keep an eye on the same goals as they had coming into the season.

Jeff talked about those goals.

"We set a lot of short-term goals but our main goal is to host a (super) regional," said Jeff, who has played in regionals all three of his years at State, but none a Super Regional. "We would also like to go to the SEC Tournament and repeat. That was a short-team goal. But our main goal is to host a regional because we know if we are going to reach the (College) World Series we pretty much have to host. We started off great, but we then hit a little slide, so we know we have to play some solid baseball to reach that goal.

"We know it's not going to be easy to do that and that we have a lot of work to do. But at the same time, we still have our eyes on the goal and we are willing to do everything that we need to do to get there."

The first thing they need to do is have success against the Arkansas Razorbacks, a team that is 8-7 in the SEC and a half a game ahead of the Bulldogs in the standings.

But Jeff realizes it won't be an easy task.

"This is the SEC. There is not an easy win in the SEC. Arkansas is going to be a good ballclub," said Jeff of the 12th ranked Razorbacks. "They got off to a good start and have a good record. They have some good pitching. Their Friday night guy, Nick Schmidt (6-2, 2.27 ERA), is a big lefthander who is a solid pitcher. We just have to be ready to put the ball in play and try and get some productive at-bats."

They get their chance to do that Friday night beginning at 6:30 when Bulldog lefty Brooks Dunn (6-2, 3.96 ERA) takes the mound.

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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