June 17, 2013 3:26:39 PM
OMAHA, Neb. - Welcome to third day of competition at the College World Series. For the first time in six years, Mississippi State University will be making an appearance in Omaha, Neb.
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog is your stop for extensive coverage of MSU's appearance at the 2013 CWS. The Bulldogs (49-18) will try to win its first two games in the CWS for the first time since 1985 tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2) in its first ever matchup against Indiana University (49-14).
Also feel free to follow me for live game updates on Twitter through @matthewcstevens
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES OPENER:
MISSISSIPPI STATE PROJECTED STARTING PITCHER: Trevor Fitts (0-0, 2.42), Soph., RHP - A preseason meeting between Cohen and sophomore pitcher Trevor Fitts that occurred by chance showed the Bulldogs' fifth-year coach he was doing something wrong. Fitts came to Cohen's office behind Dudy Noble Field and was chosen to represent his 34 teammates to discuss a critical issue.
"I've told this story many times, but Trevor Fitts comes to me and says. 'Coach, I need five minutes of your time,and I come representing the whole team', and I said, 'Trevor can we do this tomorrow?" Cohen said after the Charlottesville Super Regional victory. "The next morning Trevor is delivering a power point presentation on why I should, for the first time in 22 years of coaching, allow facial hair for my players."
That's when Cohen knew he had to lessen the grip on his team and adapt to coaching in a new era.
"I kept watching this presentation thinking, 'Is having my players clean shaven all the time for me or for our players?' " Cohen said. "Meaning if we're going to make them work their tails off ... and I started thinking about allowing my guys to have fun and have a good time on the bench. I suddenly realized that's important, too."
It's unknown what was included in Fitts' 10-minute presentation, but it worked. MSU had "Mustache March," where all the players attempted to grow a mustache for that month. Some of the team's more prominent players even have gone with playoff beards in the team's postseason run.
Fitts was a two-time Louisville Slugger High School All-American pitcher at Pelham High School after compiling a 31-6 career record with nine saves and 10 shutouts in 53 mound appearances. Fitts set school single-season records for pitching wins (14), strikeouts (151) as a junior that earned him the honor of Alabama Baseball Coaches Association pitcher of the year and Birmingham News player of the year.
The key for Fitts is he works off his fastball for strike one that has late movement and can run 89-91 miles per hour and got some ground balls off his slider against Oral Roberts.
Read more: http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=24869&TRID=1#ixzz2WW2pxSQV
PROJECTED STARTERS (2013 statistics):
C - Nick Ammirati, Sr., RH - .252, 23 RBI; Has thrown out 11 of 26 base runners while taking over the position from Mitch Slauter after his hand injury. Ammirati has seen his batting average dip 28 points since the Southeastern Conference tournament. MSU coach John Cohen expresses constantly he is MSU's best defensive catcher in terms of blocking and throwing.
1B - Wes Rea, RS-Soph., RH - .293, 7 home runs, 39 RBI, .992 fielding percentage; Second on the team in home runs and third in slugging percentage (.470). Had the game-winning RBI hit in Saturday's 5-4 victory over Oregon State University.
2B - Brett Pirtle, Jr., SH - .302, 2 home runs, 33 RBI; One of the more unique cleanup hitters in the country at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds. Pirtle has gotten on base in 40 consecutive games and has scored 11 runs in the postseason.
SS - Adam Frazier, Jr., LH - .361, 20 doubles, 7 stolen bases. A preseason All-America team honoree that was drafted in the 6th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 MLB Draft next month. Frazier is second on the team in average and would've been the Charlottesville Super Regional most valuable player after going 8 for 11 including a 6-hit day in game one. Frazier set the school record for hits in a single season with his two-hit day Saturday against Oregon State.
DH/3B - Alex Detx, Jr.., LH - .323, 31 RBI, .457 on-base % - Has 19 multi-hit games and his currently hitting .378 in the postseason with a .458 on-base percentage. Had two hits in Saturday's victory over Oregon State.
RF - Demarcus Henderson, Jr., RH - .276, 22 runs scored, 21 RBIs. Really has heated up in the final two months of the season. Henderson is hitting .289 in the postseason with 6 RBIs.
LF - Hunter Renfroe, Jr., RH - .358, 15 home runs, 61 RBI, .644 slugging %. A preseason All-America selection who won the C Spire Ferris Trophy and was a first-team All Southeastern Conference selection. Renfroe was also a semi-finalist for both USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and the NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy, given to the nation's top collegiate player before being selected No. 13 overall by the San Diego Padres.
CF - C.T. Bradford, Jr., LH - .293, 1 home runs, 25 RBI, .361 on-base percentage. Since suffering a severe quad/hip injury in the Southeastern Conference tournament, Bradford's bat has gone cold as he's hitting just 4 for 30 (.133) in the postseason. However, his ability defensively in the large gapped outfield of TD Ameritrade Park is still valuable.
3B/UTIL - Sam Frost, Sr., LH - .293, 10 RBIs, 7 stolen bases - The Hoover, Ala., native is hitting a career best .295 in limited duty this season, 23 starts and 47 games played. He'll be the possibly ta dynamic left-handed bat in the MSU lineup today against a Oregon State bullpen or a defensive substitution late in the game if MSU has a lead.
INDIANA PROJECTED STARTING PITCHER: Will Coursen-Carr (5-0, 1.80), Fr., LHP - The selection to the Big Ten Conference All-Freshman team has made 10 previous starts and been relatively dominant in the postseason. He threw a complete game to pick up the victory in the Big Ten tournament final against Nebraska and then picked up the win at Florida State to clinch the sweep in the Tallahassee Super Regional. The mid-week starter throughout the season for the Hoosiers was the 2012 Indiana Player of the Year by both Gatorade and the Indiana High School Coaches Association of our South Side High School in Fort Wayne, Ind.
He runs a fastball in the 87-89 miles per hour range with improving breaking stuff but his real strength is his ability to change speeds. His major weakness is his tendency to walk batters and get himself in trouble do to unearned base runners.
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.
5. The Ups and Downs of Nelson's Pillar BOOK REVIEWS