February 15, 2019 2:42:18 PM
From Special Reports
STARKVILLE -- The nearly three-year transformation of Dudy Noble Field is finished and the Mississippi State baseball program will open the 2019 season this weekend against Youngstown State in a three-game series to christen the new "Carnegie Hall of College Baseball."
The weekend includes the unveiling of the "Thunder and Lighting" statues that will pay tribute to MSU greats Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro on Friday, as well as inducting the inaugural class of the Ron Polk Ring of Honor on Saturday.
Full details for the events surrounding opening weekend can be found at hailstate.com/openingweekend.
Redshirt junior Ethan Small will face off against sophomore left-hander Colin Clark in MSU's season opener at 4 p.m. Friday.
Redshirt freshman right-hander JT Ginn is scheduled to take the mound at 2 p.m. Saturday for MSU. He is scheduled to face off against sophomore right-hander Chad Coles.
Redshirt junior right-hander Keegan James is slated to pitch Sunday for MSU.
The Bulldogs enter the season with senior Jake Mangum chasing a couple of high-profile records, including the MSU and Southeastern Conference all-time hit records.
MSU enters the season ranked in all six major polls, including three top-15 rankings. Along with the program's ranking, MSU is slated to see as many as 10 ranked teams this season.
Ole Miss will play host to Wright State to open season
OXFORD -- The Ole Miss baseball team will kick off the 2019 season at 4 p.m. Friday against Wright State.
Ole Miss wrapped up their final intrasquad scrimmage Sunday, completing its third weekend of spring training in preparation for the season opener. Ole Miss saw 24 live-action games this offseason, including two fall scrimmages against Little Rock and Delta State. The slew of returning batters made for an exciting year at the plate, while a mix of newcomers and veterans on the mound created much competition for the three weekend positions left vacant from last year.
After a long offseason of improvement and competition, the opening weekend lineup and rotation are set, as announced by coach Mike Bianco on Tuesday.
Will Ethridge will start the season opener for the Rebels. He had a dynamic offseason that saw him lead all pitchers in earned run average in a busy fall. The junior right-hander had a team-low 0.60 ERA and a team-high 4.50 K/BB in seven starts in the fall. He also topped the stat sheet with 18 strikeouts in 15 innings.
"Will and I talked over the summer," Bianco said. "He really is the guy that should be that person. He knew he had to go out and earn it, and Will, I don't want to say arguably, left no doubt. I don't think there is an argument. He pitched better than anybody on our staff from the first intrasquad until last weekend."
Southern Mississippi will play host to Purdue
HATTIESBURG -- The Southern Mississippi baseball team will play host to Purdue at 4 p.m. Friday in its season opener at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
Junior right-hander Walker Powell is scheduled to start for Southern Miss on Friday. Senior left-hander Stevie Powers is slated to start at 4 p.m. Saturday in Game 2 of the series.
After winning the most games in a two-year period and capturing back-to-back Conference USA regular season crowns, Southern Miss will start its quest for a fourth-straight NCAA tournament berth against Big Ten Conference foe Purdue.
Under Scott Berry, Southern Miss has won 94 games in the last two seasons, including a school-record 50 games in 2017. Last season, Southern Miss went 44-18 and won the Conference USA regular season and tournament crowns.
Alabama will open season against Presbyterian
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama baseball team will play host to Presbyterian at 3 p.m. Friday in Game 1 of a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Game 2 of the series will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by the finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.
All three games can be seen live on SEC Network+.
The season-opening series against Presbyterian will feature numerous promotions for fans of all ages. On Friday, the Crimson Tide will kick off the new season with Opening Day festivities. In addition, Big Al will be at the game and available for photos from 2:30-3:30 p.m. The Friday sponsor will be The Grand at Rum Creek, with free T-shirts and food along with raffle prizes for students.
Saturday's matchup will be Kid's Day at The Joe. All kids (18 and under) can purchase a $5 general admission seat for the game. Following the final out, kids 12 and under can run the bases.
Senior right-hander Sam Finnerty is scheduled to start for Alabama on Friday. Freshman right-hander Tyler Ras is scheduled to start for the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
Alabama enters 2019 after finishing at 27-29 a season ago (8-22 in Southeastern Conference play). The Crimson Tide finished 14th overall in the SEC regular-season standings.
The 2019 campaign will be head coach Brad Bohannon's second season at the helm of the Crimson Tide.
Kimbrel era of EMCC baseball begins this weekend
MARIANNA, Fla. -- The Brett Kimbrel era of East Mississippi Community College baseball is scheduled to begin Friday when EMCC will meet Georgia-based Gordon State College at 11 a.m. before taking on the two-time reigning NJCAA Division I national champion and preseason No. 1-ranked Chipola College Indians at 2 p.m. on their home field.
On Saturday, EMCC will face Gordon State at 10 a.m., followed by a 1 p.m. CT contest against Columbia State C.C. (Tenn.).
Kimbrel served as an assistant coach for the Lions the past two seasons. The native Floridian previously spent 12 seasons as an assistant coach on Bobby Sprowl's Shelton State C.C. baseball staff. Trent Waddell, who played at Mississippi State following his EMCC playing days, and Faulkner University product Tucker Willard are the assistant coaches.
The EMCC Lions return 10 players who saw game action for last year's 13-29 ball club.
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