Lotterhos Knows the Way

In 1998, the Mississippi State Diamond Dawgs earned the right to advance to the College World Series after knocking off regional host Texas A&M in the final and deciding game, 11-5. One of the heroes in that contest was second baseman Chris Lotterhos.

Despite a strong showing in the regional, the Bulldogs faced some long odds after falling behind to the homestanding Aggies 5-0 in a game that would punch one school's ticket to Omaha.

Bulldog Ace Jeremy Jackson started the contest on very little rest and lasted just 2 and a 1/3 of an inning.

In the bottom half of the second inning the Maroons of Mississippi State fought back to tie the score 5-5. Not known as a power hitter, Lotterhos, the Bulldogs' second sacker highlighted the frame with an unexpected two run homer. The blast chased Aggie starting pitcher Chris Scarcella as the Bullies went on to put up 11 unanswered runs to cruise to the regional title.

Despite the fact that the post-season format has changed, Lotterhos has a very good idea of what the current Bulldogs are doing to get mentally prepared for this weekend's super regional.

"The main thing is to stay balanced and to be even keel," said Chris. "It's important not to get too caught up in the excitment. You want to avoid being geared up too high and wanting to press when you get out there."

Chris played for the Bulldogs during the Pat McMahon era, but over the years he has become very familiar with Coach Ron Polk's approach to coaching baseball games.

"Coach Polk is obviously a baseball legend," said Lotterhos. "I think one of the things that sets him apart is his managing style. I don't think he varies from a regular season game early in the season to regional time. Baseball is about a balance of emotion and Coach Polk does a great job of keeping himself and his team focused on what's at hand."

Chris fashions himself as a dedicated follower of the MSU baseball program. He is impressed with the balance of the current team.

"It's a well balanced team," explained Chris. "They have gelled together, which is a key component. I have seen a lot of teams that have a lot of stars or standouts, but they just don't gel. It looks like the chemistry on this team is pretty good."

The talented Lotterhos took a very unique path to Starkville. The talented second sacker originally signed with Ole Miss and he learned an important lesson in team chemistry first hand before transferring.

"It was just a situation that is pretty rare at the college level," said Chris. "You had an SEC coach and his son playing on the same team. It was a battle for Coach Harrison. He had to balance the love and dedication to his son and the team. How good was I going to have to be to beat out his son at second? It was a tough situation for all of us, so after an interview with Coach Harrison after the season I decided that it was better for me to move on to the other school in Mississippi, which now I consider my home."

It is clear that Dudy-Noble field is a part of Chris, so much so he left a part of himself near the outfield grass.

"I buried my glove at second base," said Chris. "I used to wear a Lane Frost bull riding glove in my back pocket every game at Mississippi State. I am a huge Lane Frost fan just because he used to be a world class bull rider. He was a Christian guy and he died in the act of bull riding. A bull speared him through the heart. They made a movie about him called Eight Seconds.

"He has been one of my inspirational on Earth heroes and I had one of his original bull riding gloves that one of the managers at State gave me. My last night Travis Chapman, myself and a few other players went out there and buried that glove deep in the hole at second base about six feet in the ground."

For Lotterhos the decision to become a Bulldog had a very far reaching impact on both he and his family.

"My biggest memory is just the first week of having a Bulldog uniform on after leaving Ole Miss," said Chris. "I know you may expect to hear about the homerun I hit in the regionals or my first start, but that transition was it for me. Having to leave behind a lot of friends and family was very emotional especially with my dad being a huge football alumni that played with Archie at Ole Miss."

"It all was kind of built up and the news and the e-mails were all on me, but it was a decision that I made with the help of family and friends. I had to listen to God's path for me. I got to play in the College World Series and move on the next level for a little while. It all worked out for me."

Once Chris got comfortable in his new digs, he wanted to contribute on the field.

"Coach Case and I had a talk and I told him that if he put me in for one consistent weekend he would never take me out," said Chris. "Coach McMahon started me that weekend early in the season and I started at second the rest of the year."

Chris and his teammates gave Bulldog fans some memories to cherish with their play in the 1998 College World Series. The winding path of the Lotterhos saga made for some difficult moments, but in the end Chris made the most of it all.

Shortly after Chris' playing days at MSU were over his family wrote a letter to the Bulldog Baseball Family. Enclosed is an excerpt from that letter dated July 6th, 1999.

Two years ago our son, Chris, decided to leave the Ole Miss baseball program. Once he was granted a release, he came to Starkville to visit with Coach Pat McMahon during the 1997 Regionals. We met with Pat McMahon in his office and after the visit my wife, Carolyn, and I said to each other, "He is the kind of coach we want our son to play for."

From the Left Field Lounge, as we stood atop one of the highest points overlooking a crowd of almost 10,000, Chris got this gleam in his eye and said, "This is what I want to be a part of." That night Chris decided to transfer to Mississippi State. We told him that his family would support him 100 percent if that was what he wanted. Chris never looked back from that moment on. He became a part of the "best college baseball program in America."

After starting and selling two successful baseball instructional schools, Chris and his father-in-law started a company which sells booths to beaches, water parks and cruise lines that allow partons to walk through and have sunscreen applied to their body in a fashion that is similar to car washes. The company is currently servicing eleven states.

Chris and his wife live in Tennessee and they have one daughter.

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