Living a Dream

Mississippi State lefthanded pitcher Justin Pigott grew up a fan of Mississippi State. Like every other young boy who is a Bulldog fan, he dreamed of playing for MSU. But unlike 99.99% of them, he is living that dream.

"I've been a Bulldog fan since I was born because my dad (John Pigott) graduated from here. We were going to games when I was real young," said Justin. "All I knew was Mississippi State, really."

That and playing baseball, something he's been doing just about as long as he's been a fan of MSU.

"I started playing baseball when I was 6. I played t-ball. I started pitching when I was seven," said the 5-11, 179-pounder. "One of the coaches saw that I was left-handed, so he told me that he was going to teach me how to pitch."

Early on in his career playing college ball wasn't something he gave any thought to. In fact, he thought of himself as your everyday average pitcher.

"In little league I was an average pitcher. I threw a lot of strikes, but I wasn't any kind of dominating force," said Justin, who throws his fastball in the 84 to 86 miles per hour range now.

Then he developed his changeup.

"I threw a changeup when I was nine. (My coach) didn't want us throwing curveballs, so I threw a changeup," noted Justin.

He continued to improve as a pitcher and became the ace of the staff of one of the top programs in the nation - Picayune High School.

"When my sophomore year came around I became a starter and ended up being the ace by the end of the year," said Justin, who helped lead his team to a 2nd place finish in the state championship series. "It kind of hit me then that maybe I could do this. That was a dream come true because I didn't think I would be any good in high school."

His junior season was even better, not only for him but for his team as a whole. Picayune went 35-3 to win the state championship. Nationally, they ended up 4th overall. Individually, Justin was 13-0 with a 1.60 ERA. Playing college ball, once a dream, was now fast approaching reality.

"During my junior year I realized that maybe I could do this in college. I was receiving letters from a lot of junior colleges," said Justin. "And I think Alabama might have sent me a letter. Mississippi State and Southern Miss, also."

He advanced from letters to the all-important recruiting calls that every high schooler hopes will occur.

"I remember that day (when college coaches could call). I was in Gulf Shores (Alabama) in a souvenir shop. That night, Mississippi State and Alabama called. I think maybe Southern, too," said Justin. "It really surprised me that people were actually interested in me playing college ball for them."

Two of the three continued to recruit him throughout the summer and into the fall, one moreso than the other.

"It was really Southern and Mississippi State that were really recruiting me hard. Actually, it was more Southern than anybody else," noted Justin. "I wanted to go to Mississippi State, but in the fall they always focus on fall practice really hard and don't talk to anybody much. And that was the time when Southern was hitting on me hard and I didn't know if Mississippi State was even interested. I was really close to going to USM. I had visited there and they had offered me a scholarship. I was about a week from committing."

Then what he had dreamed about for so many years suddenly came true.

"Mississippi State contacted me about visiting them and I decided to visit. When (MSU head) Coach) (Ron) Polk talked to me the morning of the last day of the visit and offered me I went ahead and committed right then," said Justin. "Everything on that weekend was perfect. And I just knew that was the place. It was definitely a dream come true."

And the dream continues to this day.

"Even now it's a dream, especially with me getting a (SEC weekend) start," said Justin. "I had no idea that this would happen."

What has happened is Justin has gone from being a reliever to a starter who just earned the SEC Pitcher of the Week honor, an honor shared by just a few Bulldog pitchers over the course of the past 21 years.

"(MSU fan) Mrs. Debbie Wade called and told me that I'm the SEC pitcher of the week. I didn't really know what to think," said a humble Pigott. "When (MSU baseball media relations director) Joe Dier said that since 1985 there have only been 18 pitchers from MSU who have gotten SEC pitcher of the week, that is when it hit me."

Justin earned the honor after throwing just 83 pitches in a three-hit, complete-game victory over the Florida Gators this past Saturday. With the victory, his record went to 5-0 with a 0.94 ERA.

What he has accomplishment is nothing short of remarkable when you consider that he was pegged for relief duties at the beginning of the season and hadn't even started a game his entire MSU career, not even a midweek game.

"This year I was thinking I was going to be a reliever. With (Mike) Valentine and Brett (Cleveland) having a great year (last season) and me having had a pretty good year, we had a pretty good mix of different type pitchers here," said Justin. "I was really excited about that because I had a blast being in late inning situations. We went 18-0 (to start the season) and our bullpen was doing great, then our starting pitching started struggling a little bit. Then the Saturday of the South Carolina series I was down in the (bullpen), thinking I might have to go in and pitch. (The coaches) told me to stop throwing, that they might start me Sunday. The next morning I was really nervous. But when I got ready and got out there I felt really good. I was hoping to go five innings just to give us a chance. I ended up going 6.3 innings and giving up 13 hits."

And, as we all know, he followed that up with his amazing performance against Florida.

Could things be any better for this Bulldog fan?

"Playing for Mississippi State has been everything that I thought it would be and even more. It's kind of hard to put in words," said Justin. "You dream things as a kid and half the stuff never comes true. But just that this has happened and that God has given me the opportunity to do this, that just motivates me even more. A lot of kids would like to be in my position and I just don't want to waste (the opportunity). I could sit here and not work hard, but I have really worked hard. I have been given abilities from the High Power and I'm doing the best that I can."

And Mississippi State baseball is definitely reaping the rewards of his hard work and God-given abilities.

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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