"What we did last year was not Mississippi State baseball. I know that everybody on our team knows that. I also know that everybody on the team will work hard next year to be better because, to be honest, it was very embarrassing to not get to post-season, especially being at Mississippi State where we have the tradition of Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro and Jeff Brantley and all those other guys. At Mississippi State, you have to at least get to post-season, otherwise it is a disappointment. For us, the goal is Omaha, period."
The football team also had a disappointing season. They are doing something to correct that with most of them coming in for the first summer session and dedicating themselves to making sure that it doesn't happen again. Do you feel the baseball players are showing the same amount of dedication?
"I do. I saw their faces at the end of the year when we didn't get in it (the regionals) in our meeting with coach Polk. It is a motivation factor for next year. I wish it wasn't like that, I wish it didn't have to be a motivation factor, but that is the way it is. We didn't play ourselves into a regional. Next year, we have to go to post-season, we have to go to a regional, we have to go to Omaha. That is why I signed with Mississippi State, to go to Omaha.
"I have been working hard all summer. And I know that a bunch of other guys, who I talked to before they left, were going to work hard this summer. We ought to be pretty dadgum good next year."
Considering a lot of great players are returning and some great signees are coming in, there is definitely valid reasons for you to make that statement.
"Being up here working camps, I have talked to coach Rock and coach Polk about who we signed, they are pretty big on all our signees and think a bunch of them have a chance to step in and make contributions the first year. But it's not just that, we also have some hosses that we redshirted last year."
Yeah, talk about guys like Jamie Gant, Jake Ociesa, Craig Tatum, Brett Cleveland, Todd Nicholas, Les Dykes, Thomas Berkery, Brad Jones, and the other guys who were redshirted.
"At the beginning of the fall Jamie Gant was struggling with his control. By the end of the fall, he was spotting 91 and 92 (mph) with a good curveball.
"I have been told that Todd Nicholas is playing in front of about a 1,000 every night, which is what he needs because he got a little nervous his freshman year playing in front of a big crowd. He is throwing real well from what I have been told.
"Saunders Ramsey has 6 saves and a 1 and 1 record right now.
"From what I understand, Craig Tatum is throwing everybody out in the Valley League. He has a cannon but everybody knew that when he signed. His hitting has drastically improved. He was over swinging a little bit. Everybody wants to hit the ball out of the yard but it is different up here in SEC baseball. Craig learned that during the spring and started hitting missiles. I should know because I was over at first base when he hit three rockets right at me. He got out every time, but my hand was hurting that day. He is going to hit the ball (for power) before his career is over, I promise you that.
"Thomas Berkery has a great arm behind the plate and he can also play third base. In my eyes, I see he and Craig competing for the starting catching roll.
"Ociesa could have very easily stepped in and pitched for us last year. He throws the ball straight down hill and has a little late movement on it which makes it hard to hit. He throws his fastball in the 86-88 mile per hour range.
"I talked to coach about Brett Cleveland. He said that Brett could get a lot of innings next year starting in the mid-week games. He is also a hitter, hitting a little over .500 in his high school career."
Matthew, I know you need to get back to working out before you go back to working the camp. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
"Yes sir, happy to do it."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.