Entering the season Mississippi State head coach John Cohen was quick to tell anyone who would listen that the pitching staff was the strength of the program, but not even Cohen could have forseen Chris Stratton being as good as he was last Friday.
The Bulldog right-hander turned in a career-best 17 strikeouts against the No. 10 LSU Tigers. His efforts were good enough to earn him the honor of being tabbed the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week as well as Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week.
The Tupelo native held the Tigers to just one run on four hits all after allowing a leadoff walk in the first inning. He struck out the starting nine for LSU and a pair of Tigers struckout each time they faced Stratton.
Stratton was so dominate he had three inning where he struck out the side and had a stretch of 16-consecutive putouts, including 11 strikeouts.
"What a great way to start your conference year," Cohen said. "It was one of the greatest college pitching performances I've ever seen. To walk the first batter of the game and then come back to pitch virtually a flawless game from that point on shows Chris' maturity and growth as a pitcher."
The 17 strikeouts by Stratton ranks as the most in the SEC this season and the most by a Bulldog pitcher since B.J. Wallace rang up 19 punchouts against Nicholls State in the 1992 NCAA Mideast Regional at Dudy Noble Field.
Stratton, leads SEC pitchers with 44 strikeouts and the MSU staff with 29.2 innings pitched.
Mississippi State hosts Alabama A&M Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. before taking on fourth-ranked Arkansas in a three-game weekend series this weekend. The times are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday at Dudy Noble Field.