ECC First-Piitch Banquet Features MSU Coach

First-year Mississippi State University head baseball coach John Cohen will be the featured speaker for the third annual First-Pitch Dinner scheduled Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, at East Central Community College in Decatur.

The program begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in Mabry Memorial Cafeteria. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for ages 12 and under.

Diamond Warrior head coach Neal Holliman, who is in his third year at the helm, invites the public to attend the annual pre-season activity and meet the new Bulldog head mentor.

"We are extremely excited to have Coach Cohen visit our campus and serve as guest speaker for our annual First-Pitch Dinner," said Holliman, who led the Diamond Warriors to the 2007 state title in his first year. "This is always a great night for our fans, parents and players to come together and experience the excitement for the upcoming season. We usually have about 275 in attendance and we are sure this year will not be any different with such a noted speaker as Coach Cohen joining us for the evening."

Over the past five years, Cohen has become a "hot commodity" on the baseball speaking circuit and has shared his baseball knowledge with more than 100 groups over the past five years, according to the MSU Web site.

Cohen was selected to lead the MSU baseball program on June 7, 2008. He served the previous five years as head coach at the University of Kentucky.

Cohen, who was tapped the 2006 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation and, led Kentucky to a pair of NCAA Regional appearances in their last three seasons. He also led the Wildcats to their first-ever Southeastern Conference Championship in 2006.

During his five-year tenure at UK, Cohen's teams compiled a 175-113-1 (.607) record and posted a pair of 44-win campaigns – the most wins in school history.

The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native served as an assistant baseball coach at the University of Florida for two seasons prior to taking over the Kentucky program. He was head coach at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., from 1998-2001 and led the Demons to two Southland Conference titles. He received conference coach of the year honors following the 1998 and 2001 championship season. He began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of Missouri, where he served from 1992-97.

Cohen was a standout for the MSU Bulldogs from 1988-90 under legendary coach Ron Polk. The Bulldogs advanced to an NCAA Regional during each of Cohen's three years on the squad, capped by a berth in the 1990 College World Series. In 1989, he helped lead the Diamond Dogs to the SEC Championship. Cohen finished his career ranked in the top 10 in several statistical categories at Mississippi State.

He received first-team All-SEC honors as a senior and was chosen by the Minnesota Twins in the 22nd round of the 1990 Major League draft. He spent two years in the Twin's minor league system prior to beginning his coaching career.

He was a two-sport athlete at Tuscaloosa Academy from where he graduated in 1986.

Cohen and his wife Nelle have two daughters – Jordan Baker and Avery Lawson.

ECCC begins its 2009 baseball season by hosting Bevill-Fayette Community College in doubleheader action getting under way at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4 at the Clark/Gay Baseball Complex.

To purchase tickets or for more information contact ECCC Head Baseball Coach Neal Holliman, 601-635-2111 or call toll free, 1-877-462-3222, ext. 374. His e-mail address is

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