Archives

llowery

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

Connect with Author

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Stories Written by Logan Lowery

Mississippi State's Wes Rea had two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State’s Wes Rea had two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

PEARL – As a native of Gulfport, Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea couldn’t help but smile holding the most valuable player trophy from Tuesday night’s Governor’s Cup.

Rea went 2-for-4 with a double, drove in two and scored one himself against Ole Miss in the Bulldogs 8-3 victory.

“It was pretty cool,” Rea said of being named MVP. “I live two and a half hours away and a lot of my friends and family are here and that always feels good. We scored eight runs tonight and I was just a part of three of them so a lot of it goes to the guys in the dugout.”

Rea returned to the lineup Tuesday after not playing in the final two games against Missouri over the weekend.

Record attendance

A Trustmark Park record 8,496 fans attended Tuesday’s night contest in the home of the Mississippi Braves.

The previous record was set during last year’s Governor’s Cup as 8,240 attended the 2013 contest.

“It was an incredible atmosphere out here tonight,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “I want to thank all the Bulldog fans for coming out and supporting us. I looked up 15 minutes before the game and thought it was going to be an okay crowd but it seemed like 5,000 people showed up at game time.”

The Diamond Dogs have won the last two Governor’s Cups and now hold a 5-3 lead in the annual game played each year since 2007.

The victory also gave MSU an 18-17 lead over the Rebels in the Governor’s Cup/ Mayor’s Trophy series.

Godwin suspended

Ole Miss third base coach Cliff Godwin spent Tuesday night on the recruiting trail after being ejected from Sunday’s 2-0 loss to LSU.

Former Ole Miss player turned volunteer assistant Stephen Head filled in for Godwin in the third base coaches box. It was a homecoming of sorts for Head, who is a native of Raymond and a former Hillcrest Christian standout in the Jackson area.

Head lettered for the Rebels from 2003-05 before being selected 62nd overall by the Cleveland Indians following his junior season in Oxford.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoLooking back: The Diamond Dogs went 4-0 last week winning 16-2 at home over Alcorn State and sweeping an SEC road series at Missouri. MSU won a pair of 11-inning affairs 3-2 and 9-7 against the Tigers to bookend the weekend and a 6-2 victory on Saturday.

Looking ahead: The Bulldogs travel to Trustmark Park in Pearl taking on Ole Miss today at 6:30 p.m. in non-conference action in the annual Governor’s Cup.

Rankings: MSU climbed four spots to No. 20 in the latest rankings from Baseball America.

In the SEC: The Diamond Dogs are tied for third with Ole Miss in the SEC West. State hosts Texas A&M in a three-game series starting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Friday’s game will also be at 6:30 p.m. while Saturday’s finale is at 2:15 p.m. on FSN.

MVP: Freshman right fielder Cody Brown went 6-for-16 at the plate as Mississippi State’s new leadoff batter. The Biloxi native had a double, triple, three steals and drove in four runs. Brown also walked five times and scored six runs in four games last week.

Logan Lowery

Torrey Dale, right, missed the 2013 spring game due to illness and then injured his MCL early in the season, but he has worked his way back and is expected to be an integral part of MSU's defense. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Torrey Dale, right, missed the 2013 spring game due to illness and then injured his MCL early in the season, but he has worked his way back and is expected to be an integral part of MSU’s defense. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – The past 12 months have not gone as planned for Mississippi State’s Torrey Dale.

After redshirting his initial season, Dale had worked his way up to 260 pounds and was part of the second team at defensive end. But just a few days before the 2013 spring game, Dale developed tonsillitis, forcing him to miss the remainder of spring practice.

Dale dropped 40 pounds during the recovery process putting him right back at the weight he started at as a three-star prospect out of national powerhouse John Curtis Christian (La.). He made his debut against Alcorn State last season and recorded a pair of tackles against Troy before more bad news came in – a torn MCL.

The knee injury did not require surgery but sidelined Dale for the rest of the season.

“It always hurts when you’ve put in so much work to play and something unfortunate happens,” Dale said. “You get setbacks, but that’s life so what you have to do is get healthy, work hard and come back out and do it again.”

That is the approach the 6-foot-6 rising sophomore took this spring. Dale was able to get his weight back up to 245 in time for spring practice and again found himself working with the second team at defensive end.

Scrimmage success

In MSU’s three spring scrimmages inside Davis Wade Stadium, Dale notched four tackles and two sacks.

DALE

DALE

“Spring is a time where you can put it all out there,” Dale said. “You don’t have to worry about putting in a game plan or anything, you can just go hard. If you go hard you’ll find your way onto the field. Spring is a big deal for everybody because that’s where you earn your playing time.”

Dale is one of eight defensive linemen the Bulldogs signed in 2012 and will be an integral part of the defense this fall.

“I feel like our D-line could be the best in the country if we all work hard,” Dale said. “We’ve got the mindset now where we all know what we want and are all going on the same mission to be the best and get to where we want to be.”

Dale heads into the offseason hoping to make up for lost time. He is striving to get his weight back up to 260 and stay part of David Turner’s rotation on the defensive line.

“I’m working hard to get on the field and make a statement,” Dale said. “That’s what I came here to do. Unfortunately, I’ve had some setbacks but I’ll keep pushing and fighting to do what I came here to do and that’s play.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

COHEN

COHEN

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

No. 24 Mississippi State travels to Missouri for the first time in school history this weekend but Columbia is a very familiar setting to Bulldog coach John Cohen.

Cohen cut his teeth in the coaching profession for six years with the Tigers, first as a graduate assistant from 1992-94 and then as an assistant coach under Tim Jamieson from 1995-97 before landing his first head coaching gig at Northwestern State.

“My kids were born there and I have a degree from the University of Missouri,” Cohen said. “That part of it is neat until we throw a pitch, and then we’re playing another SEC weekend that’s very, very important to us.”

First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. tonight followed by a 2 p.m. start on Saturday. The series finale will be at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The two programs have met just twice previously on the diamond with the Bulldogs winning both. MSU outlasted the Tigers 2-1 in 17 innings during last year’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Former catcher Mitch Slauter finally ended the affair with an RBI single in the bottom of the 17th after State had stranded 19 runners.

The Diamond Dogs other victory in the series came in the 2003 NCAA Starkville Regional, 10-5.

Preston Brown’s injury will force him to miss his third straight SEC start on the mound. The sophomore right-hander will not make the trip.

“Hopefully he can rehab to the extent to where maybe we can get him back later on in the season,” Cohen said. “That’s a tough blow to our pitching staff because that was a guy who was pitching it well.”

Junior right-hander Trevor Fitts will take the mound tonight for Mississippi State with sophomore southpaw Ross Mitchell pushing his start back to Saturday. Sunday’s starter will be determined by which pitcher has not been used during the previous two games out of the bullpen.

Rough stretch

The Bulldogs (23-15, 7-8) are attempting to bounce back from consecutive SEC series losses. State was swept at LSU and lost two to Ole Miss at home last weekend. Cohen’s club struggled offensively on both weekends but got some confidence back with a 16-2 victory over Alcorn State Tuesday night.

Missouri is 17-18 on the year and 6-9 in conference play having won last weekend’s series at Kentucky. The Tigers lost at Missouri State 9-0 Tuesday night and have been shutout twice in their last three outings.

“We’re playing a good Missouri team that’s playing well right now,” Cohen said. “We’re excited about that opportunity. In watching their series against Kentucky, they’re a really solid club that can do a lot of things well. Hopefully we’ll go up there and play well because this is the time of year you need to start playing well.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

–––––

SCHEDULED PITCHERS

Tonight: MSU RHP Trevor Fitts (2-2, 3.29 ERA) vs. MU RHP Brett Graves (3-2, 2.67 ERA)

Saturday: MSU LHP Ross Mitchell (5-3, 2.15 ERA) vs. MU RHP John Miles (2-4, 5.25 ERA)

Sunday: MSU TBA vs. MU RHP Eric Anderson (2-2, 3.15 ERA)

LOGAN LOWERY

LOGAN LOWERY

STARKVILLE

Spring practice is in the books for Mississippi State football.

There were not as many questions concerning the Bulldogs as there may have been in years past, with 18 starters returning from last year’s team that went 7-6 and won the Liberty Bowl.

The two most pressing quandaries I had about MSU heading into spring practice still remain. I do not know who will replace Gabe Jackson and Charles Siddoway on the offensive line nor do I see a clear solution to the Bulldogs’ placekicking problem.

Justin Malone and Jocquell Johnson did not participate in any team drills this spring so it is hard to pinpoint what their roles will be on the offensive line. Jamaal Clayborn and Ben Beckwith took most of the reps as first team guards while Damien Robinson received most of the work at right tackle.

Will State stick with that setup, or will Malone and Johnson factor in that mix this fall?

It would be hard for the field goal kicking to go anywhere but up after dreadfully inconsistent 2013. The Bulldogs were just 10 of 21 on field goal tries last season, with Devon Bell making 6 of 14, Evan Sobiesk going 3 of 6 and the departed Taylor Earhart making his only attempt.

Bell was removed from the equation entirely this spring and will focus strictly on punting and kickoffs leaving the team with only walk-on options. Sobiesk battled Westin Graves for the job but the duo combined to go just 6 of 14 in three scrimmages inside Davis Wade Stadium.

That should be a major cause for concern for Mississippi State fans.

The good news is the Bulldogs were able to escape the spring without any major injuries. Senior defensive tackles Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones both missed the spring with foot injuries which created an opportunity for some of the younger defensive tackles to gain quality reps.

This spring was also huge for Nick James. After redshirting his true sophomore year last fall, James has trimmed down and played with a tremendous motor in every spring practice I saw. I expect him to be a huge contributor for MSU’s defensive line in 2014. If there was a most improved trophy for spring, I’d have to hand it over to him.

Another player who caught my eye is redshirt freshman Gabe Myles. The former Starkville High School quarterback spent last season practicing in the secondary but made the move to slot receiver this spring and has several spectacular plays. Jameon Lewis will still get most of the reps there in the fall but Myles proved to be a valuable understudy and has a bright future ahead.

Fans have a lot to be excited for in 2014 as the Bulldogs open a newly renovated stadium and attempt to make their fifth consecutive bowl appearance…and I haven’t even mentioned Dak Prescott’s name until now.

Logan Lowery (logan.lowery@ journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at InsideMSUSports.com

ZUPPARDO

ZUPPARDO

By Parrish Alford and Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

Rick Ray added one final piece to his 2014 class at Mississippi State on Wednesday by signing Jones County Junior College forward Johnny Zuppardo.

The 6-foot-9, 240-pounder took an official visit to Starkville over the weekend and committed to the Bulldogs on Tuesday. Zuppardo also had offers from Washington, Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, Iona and Kent State.

The former St. Stanislaus standout began his career at Arkansas State where he appeared in 24 games as a true freshman averaging 1.3 points and one rebound. From there Zuppardo transferred to Southern Miss where he was forced to sit out the 2012-13 season due to transfer rules.

Zuppardo helped lead the Bobcats to the NJCAA National Championship this past season averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He earned was selected to the NJCAA All-Tournament team.

Zuppardo is the fourth member of the MSU signing class joining fellow forwards Demetrius Houston and Oliver Black along with guard Maurice Dunlap, who all signed in the fall.

Smith chooses Rebels

Ole Miss basketball has signed Terrence Smith, a 6-foot-4 guard from Tennessee-Martin, to a postgraduate scholarship, Rebels coach Andy Kennedy announced on Wednedsay.

Smith, a native of Russellville, Ala., is scheduled to graduate from UTM in May.

Smith averaged 14.6 points and 2.8 assists on a Skyhawks team that wen 8-23. He shot 42.9 percent from the floor, 43.8 percent from 3-point range.

Wednesday was the first day of the spring signing period for basketball.

The Rebels also signed Rod Lawrence, a 6-4 wing from South Plains (Texas) Community College.

Lawrence averaged 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 31 minutes a game last year while shooting 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Thomas commits to Bulldogs

Mississippi State football added another playmaker to its 2015 fold as three-star athlete Deddrick Thomas became the Bulldogs 10th commitment.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder from Memphis is rated as the No. 16 prospect in Tennessee and the nation’s 52nd-best at the “athlete” position according to 247Sports.com. The latest commitment has the Bulldogs’ class ranking 10th nationally.

Thomas also had offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Marshall, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Ohio, Ole Miss, South Alabama, Southern Miss and Troy.

Thomas is expected to be a slot receiver in college.

Last season, Thomas helped lead Central High School to an 8-4 record and into the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state playoffs.

ZUPPARDO

ZUPPARDO

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Rick Ray added one final piece to his 2014 class at Mississippi State on Wednesday by signing Jones County Junior College forward Johnny Zuppardo.

The 6-foot-9, 240-pounder took an official visit to Starkville over the weekend and committed to the Bulldogs on Tuesday. He signed a national letter of intent today.

Zuppardo also had offers from Washington, Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, Iona and Kent State.

The former St. Stanislaus standout began his career at Arkansas State, where he appeared in 24 games as a true freshman, averaging 1.3 points and 1.0 rebound per game. From there Zuppardo transferred to Southern Miss, where he was forced to sit out the 2012-13 season due to transfer rules.

Zuppardo helped lead the Bobcats to the NJCAA National Championship this past season by averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was selected to the NJCAA All-Tournament team.

Zuppardo is the fourth member of the MSU signing class, joining fellow forwards Demetrius Houston and Oliver Black along with guard Maurice Dunlap, who all signed in the fall.

COHEN

COHEN

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Following Sunday’s lopsided loss to in-state rival Ole Miss, Mississippi State coach John Cohen was disgusted with his team’s approach and performance.

The sixth-year coach vowed to outwork every other college baseball team in the second half of the season starting on Monday.

“It’s takeover time for the second half of the season,” Cohen said following Sunday’s loss. “I think we can still play well. There’s a lot left out there for us. There are things like (Sunday) where we’re not representing ourselves very well. We’ve got to move forward and not let that happen.”

Mississippi State responded in a big way Tuesday night in a 16-2 rout of Alcorn State.

The Diamond Dogs dropped to No. 24 in the latest Baseball America poll, falling seven spots after losing its second straight Southeastern Conference series. MSU is 23-15 overall and 7-8 in the SEC, which is tied for fourth in the Western Division.

After finishing as the national runner-up at the College World Series last year, the Bulldogs were ranked as highly as No. 2 in the preseason but have underachieved thus far in 2014.

Bulldogs shave

To get their attention, Cohen had every player shave their facial hair before returning for practice on Monday’s practice.

“Our ultimate goal is to win a national championship, and that’s every year here at Mississippi State,” said first baseman and team co-captain Wes Rea. “I kind of felt like we were getting lackadaisical a little bit, and we had to re-evaluate how bad we wanted to be here and how blessed we are to play in this environment that the people of Starkville create for us.”

State was at 8-7 in conference play at this point last season but won two of their final three SEC series in the month of May to get hot heading into the postseason. Rea is hoping for a similar path this time around.

“We’re a game behind where we were at this point last year, and look how that turned out for us,” Rea said. “We’ve had some problems but we put them behind us. From a long-term standpoint, we’re not far off from where we need to be.”

Offensive outburst

Mississippi State responded in a big way Tuesday night in a 16-2 rout of Alcorn State. The Bulldogs had 15 hits led by Alex Detz, who went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs.

Rea was 2-for-4 with an RBI while Matthew Britton was 2-for-5 with a double.

The Diamond Dogs travel to Missouri this weekend.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

baseball_icon_greenSTARKVILLE – No. 24 Mississippi State continues its run through the Magnolia State facing its third consecutive in-state opponent as Alcorn State travels to Starkville tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs (22-15, 7-8) split last week’s games against Southern Miss and Ole Miss by winning an extra-inning affair from each.

MSU is 12-0 all-time against Alcorn State outscoring the Braves 181-34 in the series. ASU was able to keep things close a year ago and nearly pulled the upset in a 7-6 decision.

The Braves are 6-32 on the year and are just 2-22 on the road this year. Alcorn State dropped a SWAC series at home to Alabama State over the weekend.

Neither team has announced a starting pitcher.

Logan Lowery

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoLooking back: The Diamond Dogs split with in-state opponents last week winning a pair of extra-inning contests but also losing their second straight SEC series. MSU defeated Southern Miss 4-3 in 11-innings last Tuesday in Pearl but were outscored 23-9 by Ole Miss losing two of three on Super Bulldog Weekend.

Looking ahead: The Bulldogs host Alcorn State tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Rankings: State fell seven spots down to No. 24 in the latest Baseball America poll.

In the SEC: The Diamond Dogs travel to Missouri for the first time in history for a three-game series. Friday’s opener is set for 6 p.m. followed by a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start.

MVP: Derrick Armstrong has continued his tear at the plate going 8-for-13 during the week with three walks and three stolen bases. The senior outfielder from Columbia, Tenn., has raised his batting average to .356 on the year and has had five straight multi-hit games.

Logan Lowery