Mississippi State graduated two catchers following its run to the College World Series finals in 2013.
Junior College transfer Cody Walker saw the opening as an opportunity to play right away. Walker joined junior Zack Randolph and freshman
in an opening competition to be the Bulldogs starting backstop.
“I knew there were two other guys that were going to be here and that’s good competition,” Walker said. “Just because there’s competition doesn’t mean you’re going to run from it. Not only does it better them but it betters myself as well. At the end of the day, no matter who is back there we’re going to get it done.”
Walker had his opportunity in 18 games during the spring including six starts behind the plate. He hit .222 with two doubles and five runs batted in.
The 5-foot-9, 204-pounder collected his first hit at the Division I level on Feb. 28, a moment that he still recalls vividly.
“Looking back on it, it’s something I’ll always remember,” Walker said. “It was awesome. It was against Michigan State. It’s a feeling I can cherish and look back on.”
Walker also drew a 12th inning walk with the bases loaded against Tennessee to force in the game-winning RBI on May 11th to push MSU into second place in the SEC West.
A native of Columbus, Ga., Walker was once the hero of the 2006 Little League World Series where he hit the game-winning two-run homer against Japan in the championship game to give Columbus a 2-1 victory.
From there Walker went on to win back-to-back state championships at Columbus High School before moving on to Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) High School. As a sophomore, Walker batted .350 scoring 29 runs and driving in 25. He earned a Gold Glove as a catcher as well as first team All-ACCC and All-Central Division honors.
“There’s a huge difference,” Walker said of transitioning to the Southeastern Conference. “Obviously you have talent in junior college but at this level in the SEC, everybody can play. The entire roster of 40 guys and the 27 man roster all can play. The talent level – pitching, hitting, defense – is at a whole other level to where I was.”
Walker received scholarship offers from both Alabama and Auburn but it was the Diamond Dogs success and work ethic that led him to Starkville.
“This is a really good baseball program,” Walker said. “You start in the fall and that’s where it all begins. You start from the moment you step on campus until you leave. You’ll be at the field as many hours as you can and leave your heart out there. At the end of the day, you’re going to be better for it.”
Walker spent his summer playing for the Santa Barbara Foresters in the California Collegiate League, where he hit .214 with a pair of doubles and seven RBI.