January 17, 2011 8:10:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Texas Rangers first baseman and former Mississippi State standout Mitch Moreland will be the featured speaker at MSU''s 14th annual "First Pitch/Meet the Team" baseball celebration Saturday, Feb. 12, on the MSU campus.
In addition to an appearance by Moreland, this year''s celebration, set for a 4 p.m. start in the Griffis Boardroom and the Palmeiro Center, will feature an informal family-style barbecue, an introduction of the 2011 MSU baseball team, and events associated with the team''s on-going "Do It For Duffy" fund-raising campaign in support of injured former MSU player Ryan Duffy.
Tickets for the event, priced at $15 for adults and $10 for youth ages 18 and under, are on sale at the MSU Athletics Ticket Office (662-325-2600) in the Bryan Athletics Administration Building and at www.MStateAthletics.com/tickets.
Proceeds from "First Pitch" ticket sales and a silent auction scheduled during the afternoon event will be donated to the Duffy family to assist with medical expenses associated with Ryan rehabilitation and recovery. Duffy, a senior on the MSU''s 2010 baseball team and a teammate of Moreland on MSU''s 2007 College World Series team, sustained a broken neck during a summer swimming accident in Florida. He is undergoing rehabilitation at his home in Malabar, Fla.
Information regarding additional fan-sponsored fund-raising events scheduled that weekend, including a 5K "Do It For Duffy" Run, is available online at DoItForDuffy.org.
A native of Amory, Moreland starred as a first baseman and pitcher for the Bulldogs from 2005 to 2007. He helped spark MSU to a 5-0 run through NCAA regional and super regional play in 2007. In his final appearance at Dudy Noble Field, Moreland picked up a save in the super regional championship game against Clemson in the 2007 Starkville Super Regional, vaulting MSU to its eighth trip to Omaha, Neb., and the 2007 NCAA College World Series.
The Texas Rangers drafted Moreland in the 17th round. Moreland signed with Texas following his junior season at MSU. He worked his way up through the Rangers'' minor league ranks and last summer received the call-up that made him the 44th MSU player to reach the highest level of professional baseball. Moreland hit .255 in 47 games last season, including a .348 mark in Texas'' postseason run to its first World Series berth. He hit .462 in the 2010 World Series, belting the Rangers'' first home run in World Series competition, a game-winning three-run blast against San Francisco.
Included in this year''s program is the presentation of the third annual DOGSBY Awards, a light-hearted presentation of special awards to Bulldog players and coaches fashioned after ESPN''s popular ESPY Awards.
MSU will open its 121st season of baseball and the third year of the John Cohen coaching era at MSU Feb. 18 when the Bulldogs play host to the University of Akron. The game is part of a six-game, three-day double-round robin baseball weekend at Dudy Noble Field featuring host MSU, Akron, and Lamar. MSU will play four games on the opening weekend and 14 consecutive home games to launch its 35-game home schedule.
The 2011 MSU baseball team will feature 15 returning lettermen, including five starting position players and nine pitchers from last
year season, along with 19 newcomers.