Expectations are high in Starkville for Mississippi State.
And why shouldn’t they be? After having the best finish ever in school-history, second at the College World Series, there is a certain buzz around the Bulldog baseball team.
First they will have to navigate an always difficult Southeastern Conference.
The Bulldogs were selected to finish second in the SEC Western division by league coaches the SEC offices announced on Tuesday.
“I have really enjoyed our preparation,” MSU head coach John Cohen said at media day on Monday. “I think our kids have shown a great deal of maturity in the way in the way the came back from break. Whether we’re ready or not, it is upon us and I think our kids and our staff are ready for the opportunity.”
The LSU Tigers were picked ahead of the second-ranked Bulldogs in the SEC West.
MSU did receive four votes towards winning the entire SEC, but South Carolina received five. The Gamecocks were also picked to finish first the SEC Eastern division.
“I feel like this year it wasn’t as big of a deal letting people know what our expectations are,” junior first baseman Wes Rea said. “They already know our expectations based on how we played and performed last year and the direction Coach Cohen has this program going. It’s just something people know and there’s sort of a quiet confidence in the locker room. We go about our business the same way every day and people from the outside looking in know what to expect as opposed to us having to tell them.”
After LSU and MSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Auburn were selected three through seven in the league. Alabama and A&M tied for third place.
The East featured South Carolina the top with Vanderbilt, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri respectively.
The season starts this weekend and the Bulldogs host Hofstra for a four-game series at Dudy Noble Field.
On Tuesday pitchers Jonathan Holder and Ross Mitchell were to the initial watch list for the 10 annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award.
MSU is the only school to have two players on the list.
The award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.