April 17, 2012 10:18:51 AM
STARKVILLE - Without further ado:
Item No. 1 - Mississippi State baseball news - Bulldogs face Gov Cup game in Pearl tonight
Without much tangible evidence to support his claim, Mississippi State University baseball coach John Cohen is convinced this is the time his club will shine.
Coming off getting swept for the first time this season at South Carolina, MSU (21-15, 5-10 in Southeastern Conference), is facing what is arguably its most important stretch of the 2012 season when momentum will need to built as the second half of league play begins.
"We are so darn close right now," Cohen said. "We are. I know that sounds crazy but we are going to make a run."
MSU has only two hitters hitting over .300, are 2-9 away from Dudy Noble Field and can't figure out who is taking the baseball for the series finale game.
Cohen believes his team can go 9-6 in the final 15 SEC contests, which consists of series versus University of Tennessee, University of Mississippi, University of Florida, University of Alabama and University of Kentucky, can get the Bulldogs into NCAA Regional consideration before the conference tournament begins in Hoover, Ala.
"We have a great opportunity to finally start playing the way we're capable of," Cohen said. "I've already spent more time talking to trainers and doctors than I ever have in my coaching career."
Tonight's matchup with Ole Miss in the annual Governor's Cup game in Pearl at the home of the Double-A Mississippi Braves, represents the start of the opportunity Cohen is talking about. The Rebels (24-12, 7-8) are ranked 20th in the latest ratings percentage index giving MSU a chance at its fifth victory vs. RPI Top 50 school.
"Our kids have an appreciation for beating Ole Miss in everything especially our sport so they'll do everything they can in this game," Cohen said.
MSU right-handed freshman Brandon Woodruff has still yet to allow a single hit as a collegiate starting pitcher. Woodruff (0-0, 2.70) was pulled from the 2-0 victory over South Alabama University last week while still throwing a no-hitter through six completed innings.
"We want to take care of his arm and to tell you how stupid I am is that I didn't even know the situation in the game right there," Cohen jokingly said. "I know we did the right thing there. He is such a mature young man he absolutely knows how his body works and he understood that he didn't have anything left."
Woodruff, who was a fifth round selection by the Texas Rangers in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, allowed just one walk and struck out eight USA batters in just 67 pitches. The prize high school product in the Magnolia state last year said he'd never been taken out of a game with a no-hitter still intact but did confirm he asked out after the
"I was expecting to go just three or four innings tonight and stretched it out tonight a little bit," said Woodruff.
Tonight he'll have the opportunity to record his first collegiate start against the hated in-state rival and quickly make a name for himself in his first season in Starkville.
"He has earned this opportunity and could be a factor for us on Sunday if things go well for him (tonight) in an extremely important game for
us," Cohen said.
Woodruff will face freshman right-hander Sam Smith as he will be making his seventh start of the season and 10th appearance of the year. Smith has posted a 2-2 record with 23 strikeouts and only five walks allowed in his 30 innings this season.
Item No. 2 - Mississippi State tennis news - Talking with Bulldogs men's tennis team
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog will be talking with with MSU head coach Per Nilsson today and one of his better players this season Malte Stropp about the upcoming Southeastern Conference Tournament that will be hosted during Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville, Miss.
MSU has earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament after winning the Western Division for the second consecutive season. The Bulldogs will play the first match of the day at 11 a.m. Friday at the A.J. Pitts Centre.
Two years ago, Stropp was named the 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year along with the 2011 ITA Southern Region Rookie of the Year after never playing on hard court sufaces in his life before coming to Starkville. Now in the 2012 season, the Bulldogs junior from Germany is just a notch below MSU's top player Artem Illyushin but has been a consistent winner in his singles matches this season. Stropp is 15-7 this season in the No. 3 position on the team in singles competition.
Item No. 3 - Mississippi State softball news - Smith named SEC player of the week
After leading her team to an undefeated week, including a series sweep at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University senior catcher Ka'ili Smith was named Southeastern Conference softball player of the week Monday. The All-SEC candidate joins junior teammate Jessica Cooley (March 5) as a 2012 recipient of the weekly award, marking the first time in over eight years that the Maroon and White have had two players pick up the nod in the same season.
"This is a team award because I would not have been honored had we not won this past week," Smith said. "I would like to credit my teammates for their performance in the four games as well as my coaching staff for their work in helping me develop as a player."
The Kapolei, Hawaii, native hit .615 (8-for-13) over the past seven days, helping move the Bulldogs to third place in the competitive Western Division. During that stretch, the Hawaiian Hammer racked up six RBIs, six runs, two walks, two doubles, a triple, a stolen base and a .923 slugging percentage. Before this season, 14 of the previous 16 MSU players to be named SEC Player of the Week have gone on to earn All-SEC honors.
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.
3. The Ups and Downs of Nelson's Pillar BOOK REVIEWS