[Premium Article] Fall baseball practice is in full swing at Mississippi State and sophomore "submarine-style" right-hander Saunders Ramsey, a product of Starkville Academy, is already putting up impressive numbers."> [Premium Article] Fall baseball practice is in full swing at Mississippi State and sophomore "submarine-style" right-hander Saunders Ramsey, a product of Starkville Academy, is already putting up impressive numbers.">

MSU's Saunders Ramsey Soars with 'Submarine' Pitch

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/baseball/2003/sramsey.jpg" align="left" width="113" height="161"> [Premium Article] Fall baseball practice is in full swing at Mississippi State and sophomore "submarine-style" right-hander Saunders Ramsey, a product of Starkville Academy, is already putting up impressive numbers.

One of the top pitchers out of the bullpen for the Danville Dans of the Central Illinois Collegiate League, Ramsey made 20 appearance during the regular season while wracking up the third-most saves in the loop.

Ramsey didn't waste any time putting his "new-found" pitch, a discovery of Mississippi State assistant coach Daron Schoenrock, to work during the CICL postseason playoffs and also in his first appearance of the fall workouts at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium.

A late acquisition by Danville, Ramsey pitched three scoreless innings in relief for the Dans in the postseason tournament, while in his first stint on the mound this fall for the Diamond Dogs, the young hurler tossed two scoreless and hitless innings with four strikeouts.

"I can't say enough about our pitching coach," Ramsey said with a broad smile in reference to Schoenrock. "Evidently, Rock saw something. He wanted me to try the drop down delivery last spring and I was more than willing.

"Everything since then has been working and I'm becoming more comfortable with the mechanics," added Ramsey, who for the most part was an average college pitcher while employing the conventional delivery.

One of only a handful of players to play in three MPSA All-Star games (football, basketball & baseball), Ramsey pitched against one of his best friends and a former teammate with the Orange & Blue when MSU and Mississippi Valley State met in a non-conference engagement last spring at Dudy Noble Field.

Former SA Vols' left-hander Trey Wall pitched and played first base for the MVSU Delta Devils. Midway through the contest, Ramsey was summoned by Mississippi State coach Ron Polk to take over the hill duties.

"We're good friends, Trey and I, but when we get on the field, well, that's another story," Ramsey, 6-1, 184, stated sternly.

As it turned out, the duo broke even in their head-to-head confrontation. Ramsey retired his friend on a strikeout in the first at bat, but Walls managed to get a hit the second time they squared off against each other.

Polk had an idea that the change in delivery suggested by Schoenrock last spring would benefit the young pitcher.

"Saunders is a special young man and he has a special-type pitch," added Polk. "Coach Rock has worked with him on his delivery and Saunders has done a good job dropping down to deliver the ball," Polk said of the unique approach.

Polk pointed out that Ramsey has had a lot of success this summer at Danville and added that the MSU staff is "anxious" to see more of him during the fall workouts.

A good-natured student-athlete, Ramsey faced another former Starkville Academy teammate in the 2002 SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met, Alabama junior outfielder Travis Garner, who managed to get a hit but was left stranded.

"We could face each other again this spring," Ramsey said of the SA duo. "Travis will probably never let me live it down, but hopefully, I'll get another chance to even things up."

The gifted athlete is one of two Starkville Academy standouts enrolled at Mississippi State University. A three-sport standout like Ramsey, former SA Volunteer Will Prosser is a freshman receiver for coach Jackie Sherrill's Bulldogs.

"It's good to see Will on campus. I know how hard he's worked to get where he is in football," said Ramsey, who had a 3.4 GPA last year in civil engineering.

A real competitor, Ramsey's the kind of guy who'll work to lower his ERA while doing everything he can to raise his GPA.

"I've been blessed, no doubt, but I'd like to get better, individually, and for us to improve as a team," added Ramsey, who said it's a real honor to be on a team coached by Ron Polk.

"All the coaches are great, coach Polk, coach Russ McNickle, coach Rock and Tommy Raffo," noted Ramsey, who as a youth was the ring bearer when Raffo asked Paula Hawkins to be his wife.

"I've always been close to coach Tommy Raffo. I came out to Dudy Noble Field as a kid to see the Bulldogs. Coach Polk is amazing, the consummate coach. I grew up watching the Bulldogs," added Ramsey, whose parents Brenda Long and Sandy Ramsey are big MSU fans.

"I've had a lot of support," the rising sophomore said. "The community, the people of Starkville love their baseball and that makes a big difference."

Ramsey played Little League and American Legion Baseball with MSU sophomore infielder Josh Abraham, a former all-State whiz with the Starkville Yellowjackets.

"Josh and I have been playing baseball together a long time," noted Ramsey, who had a 3-2 record with eight saves and a sparkling 2.81 ERA this summer for the Dans who won the CICL Eastern Division title.

The Danville closer got his big chance when the Dans needed an additional pitcher and MSU outfielder Winston Pearson of Deatsville, Ala., already on the roster, recommended the up-and-coming hurler with a motion resembling Arizona Diamondbacks' Byung-Hyun Kim. A third MSU player, freshman outfielder-first baseman Brad Jones, of Sarasota, Fla., also played for the Dans.

Interestingly, MSU closer Jonathan Papelbon of Jacksonville, Fla., played last summer for Danville in the CICL, one of only 10 summer collegiate baseball leagues certified by the NCAA.

Meanwhile, Saunders Ramsey, a devout Christian and active in the FCA, goes about his work in "submarine" fashion.

NOTES: Mississippi State coach Ron Polk's Diamond Dogs launched fall baseball practice on Labor Day. ... Fans are welcome to attend MSU's practices and scrimmage games at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium. ... This year's Maroon-White Game is set Friday, Oct. 11 at 4 p.m., while the date for the 2002 MSU Baseball Alumni Weekend is Oct. 26-27.

Don Foster, a veteran newspaper writer, is the Sports Editor for the Starkville Daily News. He will be writing regular feature articles for Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi High School sports on the internet.

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