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SMITH COLUMN: MSU baseball shows promise for bright future

June 6, 2012


This statement may not mean much right now, but the future of Mississippi State baseball looks very bright.

The season for the Bulldogs came to an abrupt and disappointing end last weekend down at the Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional.

Even though MSU was only able to win one of the three games played at the tournament hosted by Florida State, it can be considered a successful season.

The Bulldogs were able to take their season one step further in 2011 as they won the Atlanta Regional and went on to compete against Florida at the Gainesville Super Regional, but this season has its own set of noteworthy accomplishments.

MSU won 40 games in a season for the first time since 2005 and it won the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship. That's a couple of positive things to build on.

There are some experiences the Bulldogs went through during the year that will be a benefit on down the line.

Matthew Britton, Wes Rea, Demarcus Henderson, Tyler Fullerton, Brandon Woodruff, Ross Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder are freshmen or redshirt freshmen that played vital roles for MSU during the season. We also tend to forget that Adam Frazier, the SEC Tournament Most Valuble Player, is only a sophomore.

If those Bulldogs are able to improve from 2012 to 2013 as they were able to do this year, they should continue to develop into very good players.

It's going to be tough for MSU to replace pitchers like Chris Stratton and Caleb Reed.

Stratton was a starter that gave the team 11 victories and was the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year, while Reed was solid out of the bullpen with nine saves. Reed was a senior on the staff, while Stratton, a junior, was drafted in the first round (20th overall pick) by the San Francisco Giants on Monday. He is expected to sign a contract very soon.

The Bulldogs appear to have plenty of arms to fill the void. Holder has proven he can be effective in a closer role, while Kendall Graveman, Evan Mitchell, Woodruff and others can be plugged into starting spots. MSU head coach John Cohen and pitching coach Butch Thompson have done a good job of molding the staff and that can be expected to continue.
A huge question mark going into next season will be the consistency of the offense.

There were some games during the season where the Bulldogs gave enough run support to win games, but there were others (a 2-0 loss to Central Arkansas in the regular season and 5-0 loss to Samford in the regional come to mind) that they didn't get anything done.

With a year to learn and grow, State's offense should make strides to round more into the form needed to produce enough scoring to win close games.

Although the Bulldogs are down that they weren't the fifth team out of the SEC to play in a super regional this weekend, they can be encouraged that their best baseball may be ahead.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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