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A first for MSU: Stratton becomes only Bulldog picked SEC Pitcher of Year

May 29, 2012

Mississippi State ace pitcher Chris Stratton was voted the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year by the league coaches. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

A Mississippi State first was announced by the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday morning when right-hander Chris Stratton was chosen as the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Stratton, who was also added to the All-Conference first team, was joined by a pair of fellow Bulldogs in receiving honors with Kendall Graveman and Jonathan Holder being picked to the All-Defensive team and All-Freshman team, respectively.

The team was voted on by the league coaches.

“This is a special group of kids that I get to work with every day,” said MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson. “It is all about these kids because I haven’t thrown the first pitch.”

As the league’s best hurler, Stratton carries an SEC-best 11-1 record with a league-low 2.21 earned run average. The Tupelo native has sparkled over State’s last 24 games with a 1.21 ERA. He also amassed 123 strikeouts this season, fifth in the nation. Stratton becomes the first Bulldog pitcher to be on the league’s first-team since Paul Maholm made the list in 2003.

Graveman is the first player in school history to be selected to the SEC All-Defensive Team after leading all starting pitchers on the staff with a .971 fielding percentage. For the season, Graveman is 4-4 with a stellar 2.92 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 86.1 innings of work.

With his presence on the mound, opponents have attempted only five stolen bases off of the Alexander City, Ala., native.

“In the fall, we give awards and Kendall was our Gold Glove winner on the mound so it is nice for the rest of the league to see the same things we see,” Thompson said. “Kendall has just been great for us this season and I feel strongly that if you asked the guys who they would want on the mound other than Stratton they would say Kendall.”

Holder has a school-record streak of 27.1 innings pitched without allowing a run this season. As a freshman, he has a 2-0 record in 23 appearances with a team-high nine saves.

“No, I’ve never seen anything like it, that’s the simple way to say it,” said Thompson. “Usually there is a certain amount of adversity you face in order to truly perform at a high level. Last week, he made four appearances and a runner reaching third in the championship game was as much adversity as he has faced this season.”

With the league honors behind them, the Bulldogs hit the road to Tallahassee, Fla., for the regional hosted by Florida State. MSU opens play this Friday against Samford at 11 a.m.

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