January 27, 2014 9:36:32 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State will begin the 2014 college baseball season ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll presented by Baseball America.
The organization's preseason Top 25 poll, which was released Monday morning, has the Bulldogs as the second-highest ranked Southeastern Conference school in the rankings. Last year Baseball America had MSU fifth in its preseason poll before the Bulldogs made it back to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. for the first time since 2007.
Earlier in December, MSU was ranked No. 2 program in the country by Collegiate Baseball
in the first preseason poll for the upcoming season.
MSU returns 19 letter-winners from the 2013 edition that posted a 51-20 overall record, won a postseason tournament for the third-straight season and advanced to the CWS Championship Series for the first time in program history. Included among the returnees are five of the nine starting position players as well as All-American pitchers Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder.
"I think the older kids understand this is the deal," MSU coach John Cohen said Sunday. "I think certainly this isn't a shock to our kids. It's a great compliment and it does create a little bit of buzz around your program and we're a program that depends on our fans to show up. All of those things are compelling factors that help our program. Our kids do also matter that nothing matters until you suit up and play on the field."
Eight Southeastern Conference teams (South Carolina 7, MSU 8, LSU 9, Vanderbilt 10, Alabama 21, Florida 23, Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 25) were a part of the preseason poll, which was the most of any league. For the third time in five seasons, Virginia will be at the top of a preseason college baseball poll as the Cavaliers return return eight starters from a team that lost to MSU in the Charlottesville Super Regional last spring. The next two members of the top 10 are a pair of schools MSU defeated in the College World Series in Oregon State and Indiana. Cal State Fullerton and North Carolina State, with projected No. 1 draft pick Carlos Rodon leading their pitching staff, round out of the Top 5. Florida State, South Carolina, MSU, LSU and Vanderbilt complete BA's Top 10.
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. Deep into Whale Evolution BOOK REVIEWS