March 10, 2012 1:51:20 PM
STARKVILLE - If Demarcus Henderson had accepted the six-figure signing bonus offer to play for the Houston Astros organization out of Wayne County High School, he would've been moved to the outfield.
Every professional scout that The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog has spoken to has confirmed Henderson will likely be drafted again as an outfielder in the future. The redshirt freshman, who had only played shortstop and second base in his playing career, is finding out it may be a good idea to learn the position at Dudy Noble Field while he has the opportunity.
"If I make it to the next level, my future is in the outfield so I might as well get used to it," Henderson said.
The big turnaround for Henderson has been to actually see the baseball coming out of the pitcher's hand. Henderson was redshirted last year after going through Lasik surgery to correct his vision and has responded by hitting .400 in 25 at-bats this season.
"A year ago literally he couldn't see for an entire semester," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Went to contacts and couldn't make that work. It sounds crazy when you want to talk mechanics of the game but it's as simple as he can see the baseball."
Henderson provided two hits, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in the seven-hole of the MSU lineup Friday night during the Bulldogs 5-3 victory over Mercer (11-4).
"When we have a couple of other guys out, we know a couple guys have to step up every day," Henderson said. "I was one of those guys to do the extra things to help us win."
MSU junior right-hander Chris Stratton became the second Southeastern Conference pitcher to win four games this season. Stratton (4-0) worked five innings, in relief of Mitchell, who made his first college start.Stratton allowed four hits and two runs, with a season-high five walks and seven strikeouts. All America relief pitcher Caleb Reed struck out three and allowed one hit in two innings ofwork to earn his fourth save.
"(Stratton) didn't command it the way he would've wanted but he threw great pitches when he needed to," Cohen said.
In a tied game in the fifth inning, the Bulldogs brought home a pair in the fifth inning. DeMarcus Henderson started things with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt by Matthew Britton, Brayden Jones connected for a single. An infield hit by Frazier loaded the bases. A walk to Mitch Slauter forced in a run, while a ground ball out hit by Rea brought home another.
"Our kids aren't going to be nervous in a one-run situation because we know we're going to be in a lot of them," Cohen said.
MSU (13-2) won its seventh straight game to improve to 13-2 and the two teams resume their weekend series and close MSU's season-opening17-game homestand with a 2 p.m. start Saturday and 1 p.m. start Sunday.
Mississipppi State (13-2) 5,
Mercer (11-4) 3
W - Chris Stratton (4-0) 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 7 K in 101 pitches
L - Brandon Love (2-1) 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K in 73 pitches
S - Caleb Reed (4) IP, H, 3 K
Most Valuable Player: Mississippi State right fielder Demarcus Henderson (2-for-4, R, RBI, SB).
Turning Point: 5th inning - In a 2-2 ite, the Bulldogs brought home a pair in the fifthinning. DeMarcus Henderson started things with a leadoff single. After asacrifice bunt by Matthew Britton, Brayden Jones connected for a single. Aninfield hit by Frazier loaded the bases. A walk to Mitch Slauter forced in arun, while a ground ball out hit by Rea brought home another.
Next game: Today, 2 p.m. vs. Mercer
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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