April 29, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State baseball and softball teams have something in common at the top of its batting orders.
Although both teams are struggling in the Southeastern Conference, baseball''s Grant Hogue and softball''s Chelsea Bramlett have enjoyed personal success stealing bases.
Hogue leads the SEC with 28 stolen bases and is tied with Dave Klipstein for second most steals in a season in Mississippi State history. He is fifth in school history with 53 career stolen bases.
As far as Bramlett, she has already set the Mississippi State single-season record for stolen bases with 49 and her 141 career thefts are tied her for the most all-time with Iyhia McMichael.
Hogue also has a knack of getting on base as he has been hit by pitch 16 times, which also leads the SEC.
When Hogue does get on, the first thing that enters his mind is to not get picked off.
"That''s something that has happened to me a few times this year," Hogue said.
Hogue has only has two home runs and 20 RBIs so he looks for other ways to gain an advantage through bunting, stealing and the hit and run.
In their first season with John Cohen as the coach, the Bulldogs like to run on many different pitch counts.
Hogue said he doesn''t always have the green light to steal, but Cohen gives him the sign sometimes two or three pitches into a count.
"If (Cohen) thinks I can get a read, he will give me the freedom and he''ll tell me that before I get up to bat," Hogue said. "Coach Cohen does such a good job with the scouting report that he''ll let us know before the game even starts what kind of move the guy has and it depends on what day it is."
As a junior college transfer, Hogue has played at Mississippi State for two seasons and Cohen has only had him for nine months.
Cohen likes Hogue''s competitive nature and wishes he could remain with the program longer.
"I think he''d love to be here, too," Cohen said. "I think he''s going to go into professional baseball and will surprise some people. I think he''s going to have a better professional career than people realize.
"The thing I like about Grant is he has made himself, from everything I understand, into a very good player. He has manufactured a swing that has really worked for him and competes his heart out every time. He''s a great component of our club. Every time he steps on the field, the other team has to be aware of him."
Mississippi State has not experienced must success as a team during Hogue''s time, however..
After not making the postseason with 23-33 record last season, Mississippi State (21-24, 6-15) is in danger of missing out again this season.
Hogue appreciates the tradition even though he has not been a part of a winner.
"You have to keep things in perspective," Hogue said. "I''m playing at probably the greatest place to play college baseball. There have been so many people play in front of me wearing the jersey that you have to play for pride. You still have to come to the park and play."
Meanwhile Bramlett has been thrust in a similar situation as the Lady Bulldogs (24-26, 6-19) have fallen on hard times after last season''s 41-22 NCAA Regional qualifying squad.
Not wanting to take a single game for granted, Bramlett wants to give her best effort on the field.
"I look at every game possibly being my last," Bramlett said. "Being out on the field so much, you never know when an injury may occur and something that could put you out. Last year, I was out with a concussion and that made me realize that something could happen in a blink of an eye. No matter how a team is doing in general, all I can do is the best that I can to try and perform for the team."
Unlike Hogue, Bramlett said she usually has the green light to steal in any situation.
She relies on the coaches finding out all of the tendencies of pitchers and catches before putting together a plan for attack.
"The coaches might see something that I don''t see, like signals or pitch-outs," Bramlett said. "There is a lot I have to think about before I do it, but pretty much I''ll go when I want to. Coach (Jay Miller) wants me to take the extra base whenever possible so that''s what I try to do."
Miller believes having someone with Bramlett''s running ability sets up the entire offense.
"She makes our offense go," Miller said. "When she gets on, chances are she is going to score. She has been a big help the last few years, especially this year.
"She is constantly making adjustments and battles. That''s the type of kid you always look for."