MSU Players and Coach Quotes

Mississippi State baseball players Chad Crosswhite, Connor Powers and Nick Routt and head coach John Cohen talk about their doubleheader sweep of Nicholls Saturday afternoon.

Head Coach John Cohen

How do you play baseball in this kind of weather? It had to be very tough on the players.
"It's all about what you are used to. When you are at Kentucky you are used to doing this a lot. And we have had some days like this in practice where our kids had to play in it. But the difference in a game and practice is in practice you have activity all the time where in a game you can really slow down and be inactive. So, it's tough. You have to be mentally tough."

What are your thoughts about your offense today?
"The offensive part of it wasn't great. We had a runner on third base two times with less than two outs and we don't make contact. We did make good contact in some key situations but got out, but that's going to happen."

Nick Routt pitched really, really well in his outing.
"Routt didn't deserve to give up a run today. He was that good today. We were two plays from a shutout. If we catch the ball in right - and I believe (Ryan) Collins is one of the best defensive outfielders in the league - and Frankie (Rawdow), who is going to be a great defender too, turns that double play then he gets a shutout."

What are your impressions of Routt after his first two outings of the season?
"He got to the 80-pitch mark (earlier than he should have) because we had the 24-pitch inning due to us not making the plays behind him. He's begging to stay in the game and we want to be cautious, but he makes it look so easy we kept sending him out there. We probably threw him a couple of more pitches than we wanted him to, but he's a guy who is more of a distance guy. He's better later in the game so we felt comfortable with him.

"I think he's going to be special. He really gets his fastball to both sides of the plate. His changeup is very, very good. The breaking ball is going to get better. If we can get 20 pounds on that guy, I think he has a chance to be one of the premier guys in the league."

You say that about him, but I think of pitchers like that as having tremendous velocity. He doesn't have that kind of velocity right now.
"There's a little bit of (Paul) Maholm in there, though. Like Maholm was when he was a freshman, he can go get an 87 to 88 miles per hour fastball. It's not 90 yet, but he throws his fastball in with more conviction and more velocity than he does with his normal fastball. But you are right, his fastball is 82 to 85 right now until he needs to go get an 87 to 88."

Do you think he will gain velocity if he gains those 20 pounds?
"There is no question. He just has to get more strength in his lower half which can come from the weight room. And with conditioning and understanding how to create an effortlessly delivery with more power I really think it will happen."

Connor Powers had a great day hitting the ball despite the cold weather.
"He's used to that cold weather due to where he was born and raised. And he's really good when there is a part of the ballpark to create an angle with your barrel. When the wind is blowing that way, he's really good at creating that angle and that's exactly what he did. The hardest ball he hit the entire day was when he hit it to the pull side right into the teeth of the wind."

Relievers Chad Crosswhite and Greg Houston performed well late in both games.
"What those guys have been able to do is come and throw it in the strike zone. They both attack the strike zone and that's what we love about both of them. That's the whole deal when you are a reliever - you can't give guys advantage counts. And both of them have a second pitch. Greg's is more of a changeup while Chad's is more of a slider. And when they are finishing that fastball and getting extra life at the end of it it really ties guys up."

Junior First Baseman Connor Powers (6-for-8, 2 HRs, 7 RBI)

Talk about your day today.
"Luckily my teammates got on base in front of me and certain situations predicted certain pitches and I was lucky enough to get something to hit. I hit them and we executed and it was a good day for everybody."

How were you able to hit so well on such a cold, wet, windy day?
"(Laugh) I'm from Chicago. In high school we played in this up until the middle of April. And every once in awhile in May there would be a day like this."

Were you seeing the ball well today?
"Coach Cohen preaches effortlessly swings and putting the head of the bat on the ball. And whatever happened, happened."

Senior RHP Chad Crosswhite (Save, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO)

You earned your second save of the season. What are your thoughts about your role as a relief pitcher?
"I like it. It's a new role that I've never really had before. I like the way they have confidence in me. And nothing really fazes me like it did as a freshman because I've been around some situations. But I think we have a lot of guys in the pen like (Justin) Bussey, (Greg) Houston who have really stepped up. And we have (Nick) Routt who has done phenomenal."

Do you pitch differently in relief than you do as a starter?
"Yeah, if you know you are only going to pitch two innings, you can go out and give it all you have in those two innings. If you are starting, it's not that you have to pace yourself, but you know you have to go at least five innings. So, yeah, it's a totally different mentality between starting and relieving. But I've done both and I like doing both.

"I'm just happy that we are winning. It's a lot of fun."

What is the mentality of this team so far this year?
"I think this year we just never give up. I think with Coach Cohen it's attack, get after them from start to end. And today was a big challenge for us because it was freezing out there, absolutely freezing. And I think tomorrow we are going to get five inches of snow, so it will be another challenge. But Coach Cohen always says we love challenges."

Freshman LHP Nick Routt (Win, 6 IP, 7 H, 3 unearned runs, 0 BB, 6 SO)

You had a very good fall, but it appears you have really stepped it up a notch during the season.
"To come off the break and not play the same team for 30 straight games helps. And our hitters are a lot tougher to face."

Coach Cohen compared you to former Bulldog pitcher Paul Maholm. Paul, who is now a Major League Baseball pitcher, was one of those guys who really challenged hitters just as you do. Do you feel good about where you are right now?
"I feel pretty good, but I still have a long way to go. I have to get better at locating because I'm still missing spots and I'm lucky they are flying out or grounding out."

What is your mentality when you are on the mound?
"When I get on the field I'm all business and want to get the job done. I just like to challenge the hitters and most of the time they are going to hit it and our defensive guys are going to make the plays. A couple of times today they didn't make the plays but the weather could have played a part in that."

Did the weather not bother you today?
"(Laugh) I'm kind of used to it."

How can you ever get used to playing in this kind of weather?
"You just have to learn how to keep your body warm. Keeping your hands warm for the pitches is important. You can't lose feeling in your hands because you won't be able to pitch the ball well."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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