MSU head coach John Cohen, second from left, sees his team ranked No. 5 in the nation by Baseball America. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
There hasn't been this amount of buzz around the Mississippi State baseball team in a long time.
The 2013 Bulldogs have garnered a good amount of preseason recognition. The team was ranked by most every poll in the preseason.
Mississippi State is ranked as low as 18th in one poll and as high as 5th by Baseball America.
The word "Omaha" has been synonymous with the program. For the Bulldogs, it's all about getting better in practice and not buying into the preseason hype.
"You're just going to get into cliches and one game at a time things," MSU head coach John Cohen said at baseball media day on Friday. "That's how you have to look at it. There's no College World Series, there's just practice today. Are we going to get better, make quality pitches and defend the field? All of those things have to happen today and if you keep doing that for four to five months, positive things happen. The neat thing about this club is we don't have to address that with this group, they understand the grind of playing college baseball. I don't hear our kids talk about that in practice."
The players have taken the same stance as their coach on preseason recognition.
"We like, especially when that No. 5 came out in that one poll," Bulldog junior shortstop Adam Frazier said. "We like that a lot. (It's) better than the 16 and 17. We know that doesn't mean very much. Coaches do a good job of letting us know that doesn't mean much. All it is, is a little recognition before the season. I guess it gives you some expectations of what everybody else is seeing in you. We like it but we don't really look into it too much or talk about it."
Cohen and his coaching staff are proud of the preseason hype and want the players to soak it in. They don't want it to make their club become complacent.
"There's a lot of excitement in the air," Cohen said. "Obviously with the rankings coming out, some folks have had us at 20 or 16, and Baseball America had us at No. 5. That's fun for our players, it's fun for the fans, but there's not a lot of discussion about that within our daily work. Our kids know that you're really not trying to defeat the polls, you're really not trying to defeat an opponent, you're trying to defeat the game, and the game is going to try to punch you in the mouth at every opportunity."
program among pitchers
Since Cohen arrived at Mississippi State, he has wanted to get the older guys involved in helping the younger guys.
In 2013, it looks like it will be possible.
"From the moment I got to Mississippi State, this is what we have wanted to create is having a mentor situation," Cohen said. "(We want to) have the older guy instructing the younger guys."
It was seen last year with Caleb Reed mentoring Jonathan Holder. This year it looks like the sophomore will be doing the mentoring.
"Not only has Jonathan embraced that, he has taken some of our younger players we have put in that role also," Cohen said. "He has become a mentor even as a sophomore. The reason he's doing that is because Caleb Reed mentored him."
For Cohen, many of the Bulldog pitchers have a role. They can't all be the ace of the program and anchor down that starting position on Friday night.
Many have embraced that.
"I can't even explain to you how nice it is to have guys who really embrace their role," Cohen said. "In the college game, there are so many kids who are mentally insistent on 'I've got to be a starter for my future and beyond.' We have so many kids on our pitching staff that just say 'hey what's going to help us get to the next level and I'll do it.'"
to Dudy Noble Field
Dudy Noble Field is one of the larger fields in the country.
There has been some work done on the left field wall. They have straightened the left field fence, but it really hasn't made the ballpark any smaller.
"It really has not changed much," Cohen said. "It really hasn't changed much in batting practice. I think we did that for two reasons. I think it may a very, very, very large ballpark into a very large ballpark. If you look at the dimensions right now, they really haven't changed. Down the line, (it) hadn't changed, to the left centerfield gap, it hasn't changed and in the middle, it's changed a little bit. Could it blow out 30 miles an hour on opening day and have 10 home runs hit? Yeah, it's possible. We just haven't seen a whole lot of that."
TV times announced
for SEC baseball
The Southeastern Conference issued a release Friday of all of the league matchups will be seen on television.
The Bulldogs will have eight games on TV.
MSU and LSU will be on CSS Saturday Mar. 16. The Saturday Mar. 23 game between the Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats can be seen on FSN.
MSU's Saturday April 13 game against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, will be seen on FSN.Â
MSU's final two games of Super Bulldog Weekend against Auburn on Thursday April 18 and Friday April 19 can be seen on ESPNU and CSS respectively.
The Bulldogs travel to Nashville, Tenn., in late April. Saturday's April 27 game can be seen on CSS.Â
MSU's Friday March 3 game against Alabama will be seen on ESPNU.
When the Bulldogs head north to face Ole Miss, the Sunday May 12 will be televised by CSS.
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