MSU looks for more SEC wins against Alabama

By: 
JOEL COLEMAN
Staff Writer

Mississippi State is halfway through its Southeastern Conference schedule and somehow, someway, the No. 11 Bulldogs are just a game out of first place in the overall standings.
Plagued by injuries and adversity, MSU keeps right on winning. It has to all come crashing down at some point, right?
With Alabama (15-22, 2-13) coming to town for a three-game series starting Thursday at 6 p.m., the Bulldogs (25-14, 10-5) say they aren’t worried about all the misfortune finally catching up.
“I keep saying that it is what it is and that’s the best thing I can say about (all the injuries),” MSU head coach Andy Cannizaro said. “The guys have done a phenomenal job of taking everything day by day. It’s all hands on deck every single day.
“It’s tunnel vision and focus on what our task at hand is each and every day. We take it day by day and try to win the day. Don’t worry about the series. Win that day.”
There have been plenty of daily victories for the Bulldogs of late. MSU has won its last four SEC series and gone 10-2 in those 12 total games. It has been well-documented by this point, but it has all been done with a pitching staff littered with ailments and a lineup with two of its top hitters – Jake Mangum and Hunter Stovall – hampered by hand injuries.
Through it all, the Bulldogs are still rolling.
MSU has lost its last two games, including an admittedly uninspired performance at South Alabama on Tuesday, but Stovall says the team isn’t looking at that like its luck is about to run out.
“We try to not think of it that way,” Stovall said. “The whole season is a grind. We just go day by day and grind it out. That’s really all you can do with all the injuries we have.”
The Bulldogs will try to stay hot this weekend against a struggling Alabama squad. The Crimson Tide are one of just two SEC programs with an overall losing record. They also sit in the cellar of the conference standings. Alabama hasn’t won a league game since April 1. However, Cannizaro says State won’t take the Crimson Tide lightly.
“(Alabama) will be ready to play this weekend,” Cannizaro said. “We have to play extremely well if we want to be competitive.
“Completely throw records out of the equation. This is a very good baseball team that is capable of beating anyone on any given day. We are going to respect them just like they were in first place right now.”
Cannizaro hopes that mindset leads to yet another successful weekend for his Bulldogs. Good weekends have been common the last four weeks for MSU, even through the challenges the squad has faced, but Cannizaro knows there is still much baseball left to play, so neither he or his team can take the foot off the gas.
“We’ve been able to get off to a great start in the first half of the SEC schedule,” Cannizaro said. “We have to continue to do those things the rest of the way or all this could very easily flip-flop and reverse on us.”

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