We have a coach and staff in place that will not only get us back to where we are supposed to be, but will achieve it on a consistent basis year in and year out. Not only that, he WILL take us to where we have never been before. By that I mean big fat rings that say NCAA Champions.
I have met this man and I have looked into his eyes. If you haven't, take my word for it - he is as determined and motivated as they get. Don't think so? What about his quote the day before we opened a weekend series with Ole Miss this year where he told the newspaper that they better get us while we're down because we won't be there for long. We then went out and took 2 of 3 from a team that was supposed to wipe the floor with us. I love that fire and moxie. It is the direction this program and university is going and if you don't like it, well, I will see you when everyone else is jumping back on the bandwagon when we are booking that flight to Omaha as the favorite.
Now to this year's team. I know, I know, I was just as disappointed as you were. There were even some moments when I wanted to throw the radio across the room (and almost did).
But that is now in the past. There were some positives seen from this year's team that give me great hope for the future, even the immediate future.
An 18-year-old baby faced freshman pitcher by the name of Nick Routt emerged as the ace of the staff and ended the season as a member of the SEC All-Freshman team. And he will only get better with coaching and the experience that he received this past season. On top of that, he never got rattled throughout the entire year thanks to how even keeled he was. As a former player, I can't tell you how invaluable that personality trait is.
There was also a "never say die" attitude that was taken day in and day out by this team. They simply NEVER quit. Don't believe me, then ask Ole Miss, who we defeated twice on their home field, and even LSU, a team that we could have easily defeated twice with one more base hit or one more strikeout. Both of those teams came in ranked among the top-10 teams in the nation and both left licking wounds suffered from bites made by a bunch of Bulldogs playing like the future was already here.
And this team constantly pressured the other team any time someone was on base. Just think how much more annoying that is going to be for the other team once we get a little more talent out there. While there is already some talent on this team, trust me when I tell you even more talent is on the way. Add that additional talent to the attitude this team already has ... well, you get the picture.
Ok, I know what you guys are saying while you read this. But Matthew, it wasn't our hitting that killed us, it was our pitching. You don't think I know that? Cohen knows it too. Cohen and staff are constantly recruiting pitchers and have already recruited pitchers who are going to fill up the strike zone. Also, just for fun, they throw hard too.
And these are the kind of players that we will consistently see coming to MSU from now on. Don't believe me? Go look at the stats of the players we have already signed for next year. Also, take a look at the other schools that were recruiting many of these kids. In the future, it is going to be rare indeed when you see us having to win a battle against the Southeast Louisiana type teams for a kid. Instead, as has been the case with many of this year's signees, you will see us beating out Florida State, Florida, LSU, Alabama, and for you Ole Miss fans reading this...Ole Miss too.
The times of MSU being a doormat for the rest of the SEC are soon coming to a close. I am just as impatient as all of you and I believe, no I know, Cohen is too. I can't imagine how tough it was for him to go through a season like this. I am sure if I talked to him during the middle of the season, I could have created a sauna with the smoke that was coming from his ears. That is what leads me to believe that we are heading in the right direction.
And we, as fans, will not settle for anything less and neither will our coach. He is going to bring in the type of players that fit his attacking style of baseball. He is going to demand more from them than any normal coach would. And in the process he is going to push them harder than they have ever been pushed before. And the result will be they will go farther than they ever thought they could.
And at the end of these players three or four years at Mississippi State they will be able to look back and say I gave it everything. And maybe, just maybe, have that big fat NCAA Championship ring to reiterate that it was all worth it.
Matthew Brinson, a former Mississippi State baseball player who played at State during the years 2000-2003, is the MSU baseball columnist for GenesPage.com.