March 5, 2009
Hawaii won''t be all fun and games for the Mississippi State Bulldogs if they don''t playing good baseball.
MSU coach John Cohen wants his team to have a good time, but he hopes it takes the baseball side of the trip seriously when it plays a four-game series against the University of Hawaii.
Cohen plans to enjoy himself, but he admits there will be a few anxious moments.
"It will be historical for our players and beautiful for our players, but it will be a challenge," Cohen said. "It will be a good Hawaii club. There are a lot of distractions, and I want our kids to be really concerned about baseball. Hopefully we''ll be able to get some work done there."
Cohen is concerned most being between time zones, getting back late Sunday, getting the players back to class Monday, getting ready for a day-night doubleheader with Valparaiso on Wednesday and preparing for the first Southeastern Conference series against South Carolina the next weekend (March 13-15).
Cohen almost sounds like a coach who would rather not have to make the trip, especially with all the potential distractions.
"For all the things a Hawaii trip brings, the expense and everything, you would think you could just stay within the great 48, but we agreed to this four years ago," Cohen said. "It will be a great experience for them, but it is a little bit of a nightmare for coaches."
The No. 26 Bulldogs (7-1) bused to Birmingham, Ala., and were scheduled to catch a flight early Tuesday.
MSU and Hawaii (3-5) begin the series at 10:35 tonight. They will continue the series at 10:35 p.m. Friday, at 5:05 p.m. Saturday, and conclude it at 6:05 p.m. Sunday.
All games are scheduled will be broadcast on WFCA-FM 107.9. Some of the action will be joined in progress due to basketball commitments.
The Bulldogs have schedule several activities on the trip, but junior pitcher Ricky Bowen understands baseball will be the focus.
"We are there to play hard and win," Bowen said. "That''s the main goal. I think we do get to have a little bit of fun. We''ll get to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial and we''re having dinner with the alumni. We''re looking forward to being around Mississippi State fans from all sides of the world."
This will be MSU''s fourth visit to Hawaii for baseball. Cohen was on the last team to make the trip in 1989.
Bowen has already asked Cohen what to expect.
"(He) said it was different and the prices are inflated a little bit," Bowen said. "He has given us a little bit of a hint about it, but not too much. We''re anticipating some warm weather. I''m looking forward to seeing what it''s like."
Cohen knows that some Bulldogs will be able to handle the Hawaii experience better than others.
He would like to keep the players indoors as much as possible, but he realizes that will be close to impossible in Hawaii.
"Hawaii is all about being outdoors," Cohen said. "That''s a problem because you want them to have that experience. You have all of these neat things, then you have a switch. Once you hit the baseball field, you switch that thing on and it doesn''t go off until you get done with the baseball. You hope that can happen, but some kids are more mature. This will be a good test to find out a little more about our club."
Bowen (0-0, 4.91 ERA) will start on the mound in the series, but MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson said the Bulldogs will go with Tyler Whitney (0-0, 0.00 ERA) in the opener. Whitney has started one game this season and was scheduled to start the third game of the Nicholls State on Sunday, but that game wasn''t played.