Sam Frost returns to his hometown for baseball competition as the Mississippi State Bulldogs participate in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., beginning today. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The city of Hoover, Ala., is known for its shopping opportunities and nice places to have dinner.
When Sam Frost returns to his hometown this week, he will be searching for something that can't be found in a store or a restaurant.
Frost and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are wanting to play well enough at Regions Park to bring a Southeastern Conference Tournament championship back to Starkville.
"There's nothing I'd like more than to get a ring this week," Frost said. "The SEC Tournament is the biggest attraction every year and it draws the biggest crowds at Regions Park. To win this tournament is almost like a national championship."
Frost remembers his mother allowing him to leave school early as a young boy to go watch some of the action of the SEC Tournament.
It was a dream of his to be able to play in that stadium and now he gets that opportunity with MSU.
"That's where I wanted to be my whole life," Frost said. "I'd go watch the college teams and I'd go watch the (Birmingham) Barons play. It's somewhere I've always seen myself playing."
One thing Frost doesn't see himself doing often is shop, but he can see why people like Hoover as a place to satisfy that urge.
"From what I've heard from all of the girls in Mississippi, that's the place to go," Frost said. "You have the (Galleria) mall and the Summitt out on (Highway) 280 where there are a bunch of stores. A lot of the guys like to go over there and shop for shoes.
"It's not a huge town, even though some people think it is. We have all of the chain restaurants. It's just home for me."
Frost was a two-year starter as a middle infielder at Hoover High School, which is located near Regions Park.
In helping the Buccaneers to a 32-13 record and a berth in the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs as a senior, Frost hit .389 with 42 runs scored, 31 runs batted in, 17 doubles and eight home runs in 45 games. He was voted the team's Most Valuable Player and was selected to the All-Birmingham Metro, All-Over The Mountain and All-Birmingham Metro Academic teams.
Frost helped Hoover to a 29-18 mark as a junior and the Class 6A State Championship.
Since joining the Bulldogs, coach John Cohen said Frost understands his role and performs it well.
"He's a very athletic kid, has got tremendous quickness, and he's got arm strength," Cohen said. "He can do the short game and can play any position on the infield.
"Sam has been a great player and great leader for us. He is almost a straight A student in mathematics at Mississippi State so we love Sam and everything he does for us."
Cohen said Frost, now a junior, is one of the few members of the squad that has experienced success in the postseason as MSU won the Atlanta Regional last season.
Frost only played in 40 out of 63 games last season, but did get 38 at-bats and contributed seven hits with one of those being a double. He had much better numbers as a freshman with a .248 batting average, eight doubles, a triple and 13 RBI.
So far this season, Frost is hitting .227 with 25 hits, six doubles, 15 RBI and has stolen seven bases in 10 attempts.
Frost said the Bulldogs are all trying to do a job, whatever that may be.
"We all rely on each other," Frost said. "When the coaches ask me to get a bunt down, the whole team is counting on me to get a bunt down. We're just trying to do everything we do to help the team."
As far as the prospects of MSU winning the SEC Tournament, Frost believes it's hot enough to make a run.
The Bulldogs take a 34-21 record to Hoover after sweeping the Kentucky Wildcats over the weekend.
"Our pitchers always pitch well and they pitched well against Kentucky," Frost said. "We have quality players and we try to do what the coaches say, have quality at-bats and things started to click for us."
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