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SMITH COLUMN: MSU baseball has a chance to be special

February 10, 2013

There's potential for Mississippi State to have a very special baseball season.

Over the last couple of years, the Bulldogs have experienced more and more success under coach John Cohen.

MSU won the Atlanta Regional two years ago and got within one win of making the school's ninth trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Last season, the Bulldogs won the Southeastern Conference Tournament before having their postseason come to an end at the Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional.

The momentum from the past two years has created quite a buzz this preseason and State has been ranked as high as No. 5 by Baseball America.

It remains to be seen whether this year's Bulldog edition will meet those type of expectations. If MSU is good enough to be ranked fifth in the country, then it will be one of the teams that have a chance to make it to the CWS in June.

Between now and then, there will be 55 regular season games played and however many postseason outings it takes for the Bulldogs to accomplish their goal.

MSU held its Fast Pitch/Fan Day celebration at the Palmeiro Center Saturday and the interest the program has generated is evident. There were hundreds of fans in attendance for the event.

Cohen introduced various aspects of the baseball team and support staff, then he had a visit with former Bulldog Tyler Moore of the Washington Nationals.

Following the festivities inside the Palmeiro Center, the fans were treated with a scrimmage. Even though the weather was a little cool, it turned out to be a nice day for MSU to be showcased.

The key for the Bulldogs to be successful this season will be how the coaches mold this collection of very good talent and find a way to get consistency throughout the squad.

There must be a measure of confidence brought by the players every single day. The baseball season is a grind and there can't be many off days. If one person had a bad day, then it can throw the entire operation off course.

At this time, there does not appear to be a Bulldog like Chris Stratton did last year, that will take the baseball as a Friday night pitcher and have a chance to be dominant.

There's a nice collection of arms available, but it remains to be seen if someone can emerge to be the No. 1 guy for MSU.

Cohen likes what Kendall Graveman, Evan Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren, Brandon Woodruff and others bring to the mound. As of yet, he has not announced what a starting rotation will look like.

The 2013 season begins on Friday with the first of three games against Portland.

Cohen believes this will be a great early test for the Bulldogs and may provide an indication of just how good they can be.

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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